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Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong

06/03/2016 02:20 pm ET | Updated Jun 07, 2016

After nearly seven years of personal experience surrounding loss, I can tell who is going to read, share and comment on this article and it’s not necessarily the audience I’ve intended. Those who have walked the horrific road of loss will shake their collective heads “Yes” at many of my points below and share with pleads for the rest of the Western World to read, learn, evolve and embrace these concepts. Unfortunately, my words will fall short for my intended audience because the premise does not yet apply to their lives...yet. In time, my words will resonate with every human on the face of this earth, but until a personal journey with loss takes place, my words will be passed over in exchange for articles about gorillas and fights over public bathroom usage.

There is nothing sexy or exciting about grief.

There is nothing that grabs a reader with no personal interest to open my words and take heed to my writing.

I’m here to say that the West has the concept of grieving all wrong.

I’d like to point out that we are a culture of emotionally stunted individuals who are scared of our mortality and have mastered the concept of stuffing our pain. Western society has created a neat little “grief box” where we place the grieving and wait for them to emerge fixed and whole again. The grief box is small and compact, and it comes full of expectations like that range from time frames to physical appearance. Everyone who has been pushed into the grief box understands it’s confining limitations, but all of our collective voices together can’t seem to change the intense indignation of a society too emotionally stifled to speak the truth. It’s become easier to hide our emotional depth than to reveal our vulnerability and risk harsh judgment. When asked if we are alright, it’s simpler to say yes and fake a smile then, to be honest, and show genuine human emotion.

Let me share below a few of the expectations and realities that surround grief for those who are open to listening. None of my concepts fit into societies grief box and despite the resounding amount of mutual support by the grieving for what I write below, many will discount my words and label us as “stuck” or “in need of good therapy.” I’m here to say those who are honest with the emotions that surround loss are the ones who are the least “stuck” and have received the best therapy around. You see, getting in touch with our true feelings, embracing the honest emotions of death only serve to expand the heart and allow us to move forward in a genuine and honest way. Death happens to us all so let’s turn the corner and embrace the truth behind life after loss.

Expectation: Grief looks a certain way in the early days. Tears, intense sadness, and hopelessness.

Reality: Grief looks different for every single person. Some people cry intensely, and some don’t cry at all. Some people break down, and others stand firm. There is no way to label what raw grief looks like as we all handle our loss in different ways due to different circumstances and various life backgrounds that shape who we are.

Expectation: The grieving need about a year to heal.

Reality: Sometimes grief does not even get started till after the first year. I’ve heard countless grieving people say year two is harder than year one. There is the shock, end of life arrangements and other business matters that often consume the first year and the grieving do not have the time actually to sit back and take the time to grieve. The reality is there is no acceptable time frame associated with grief.

Expectation: The grieving will need you most the first few weeks.

Reality: The grieving are flooded with offers of help the first few weeks. In many cases, helping the grieving six months or a year down the line can be far more helpful because everyone has returned to their lives and the grief stricken are left to figure it out alone.

Expectation: The grieving should bury the dead forever. After a year, it is uncomfortable for the grieving to speak of their lost loved one. If they continue to talk about them, they are stuck in their grief and need to “move on.”

Reality: The grieving should speak of the dead forever if that’s what they wish to do. When someone dies, that does not erase the memories you made, the love you shared and their place in your heart. It is not only okay to speak of the dead after they are gone, but it’s also a healthy and peaceful way to move forward.

Expectation: For the widowed - If you remarry you shouldn’t speak of your lost loved one otherwise you take away from your new spouse.

Reality: You never stop loving what came before, and that does not in any way lessen the love you have for what comes after. When you lose a friend - you don’t stop having friends, and you love them all uniquely. If you lose a child and have another, the next child does not replace or diminish the love you had for the first. If you lose a spouse, you are capable of loving what was and loving what is....one does not cancel out or minimize the next. Love expands the heart, and it’s okay to honor the past and embrace the future.

Expectation: Time heals all wounds.

Reality: Time softens the impact of the pain, but you are never completely healed. Rather than setting up false expectations of healing let’s talk about realistic expectations of growth and forward movement. Grief changes who you are at the deepest levels and while you may not forever be in an active mode of grief you will forever be shaped by the loss you have endured.

Expectation: If you reflect on loss beyond a year you are “stuck.”

Reality: Not a day goes by where I am not personally affected by my loss. Seeing my children play sports, looking at my son who is the carbon copy of his Dad or hearing a song on the radio or smell in the air. Loss because part of who you are and even though I don’t choose to dwell on grief it has a way of sneaking in now and again even when I’m most in love with life at the current moment. It’s not because we dwell or focus, and it’s not because we don’t make daily choices to move forward. It’s because we loved and we lost, and it touches us for the remainder of our days in the most profound ways.

Expectation: When you speak of the dead you make the griever sad, so it’s best not to bring them up.

Reality: When we talk about our lost loved one we are often happy and filled with joy. My loss was six and a half years ago and to this day, my late husband is one of my favorite people to talk and hear about. Hearing his name makes me smile and floods my mind with happy memories of a life well lived. It makes the grieving sadder when everyone around them refuses to say their name. Forgetting they existed is cruel and a perfect example of our stifled need to fix the unfixable.

Expectation: If you move forward you never loved them or conversely if you don’t move forward you never loved them.

Reality: The grieving need to do what is right for them, and nobody knows what that is except the person going through it.

Expectation: It’s time to “move on.”

Reality: There is no moving on - there is only moving forward. From the time death touches our lives we move forward, in fact, we are not given a choice but to move forward. However, we never get to a place where the words move on resonate. The words “move on” have a negative connotation to the grieving. They suggest a closure that is nonexistent and a fictitious door we pass through.

Expectation: Grief is a linear process and a series of steps to be taken. Each level is neatly defined and the order predetermined.

Reality: Grief is an ugly mess full of pitfalls, missteps, sinking, and swimming. Like a game of shoots and ladders, you never know when the board might pull you back and send you down the ladder screaming at the top of your lungs. Just when you think you’ve arrived at the finish, you draw a card that sends you back to start and just when it appears you’ve lost the game you jump ahead and come one step closer to the front of the line.

Expectation: The grieving should seek professional forms of counseling exclusively.

Reality: The grieving should seek professional forms of counseling but also the grieving should look strongly towards alternative modes of therapy like fitness, art, music, meditation, journaling and animal therapy. The grieving should take an “active” part in their grief process and understand that coping comes in many different forms for all the different people who walk this earth.

Expectation: The grieving either live in the past or the present. IT is not possible to have a multitude of emotions.

Reality: The grieving live their lives with intense moments of duality. Moments of incredible happiness mixed with feelings of deep sadness. There is a depth of emotion that forever accompany those who have lived with a loss. That duality can cause constant reflection, and a deeper appreciation of all life has to offer.

Expectation: The grieving should be able to handle business as usual within a few weeks.

Reality: The brain of a grieving person can be in a thick fog, especially for those who have experienced extreme shock, for more than a year. Expect forgetfulness, a reduced ability to handle stress and grayness to be commonplace after a loss.

I’ve just scratched the surface above on the many areas where grief is misunderstood in our society.

One hundred percent of the people who walk this earth will deal with death. Each of us will experience the passing of someone close that we love or our personal morality. It is about time we open up the discussion around death, dying and grief and stop the stigma that surrounds our common bond. Judgment, time frames, and neat little grief boxes have no place in the reality that surrounds loss. Western culture asks us to suppress our pain, stuff our emotions and restrain our cries. Social media has given many who grieve the opportunity to open up dialogue, be vulnerable on a large scale level and take the combined heat that comes with that honesty. As a whole, society does not want to hear or accept that grief stays with us in some capacity for the rest of our lives. Just like so many other aspects of our culture, we want to hear there is a quick fix, a cure-all, a pill or a healthy dose of “get over it” to be handed out discreetly and dealt with quietly.

The reality is you will grieve in some capacity for the rest of your life. Once loss touches you-you are forever changed despite what society tells you. Stop looking at the expectations of an emotionally numbed society as your threshold and measuring stick for success. Instead, turn inward and look at the vulnerable reality of a heart that knows the truth about loss. With your firsthand knowledge escape the grief box and run out screaming truth as you go. If we make enough noise maybe someday societies warped expectation will shift to align with reality.

Follow Michelle E. Steinke on Twitter: www.twitter.com/OneFitWidow

 

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Originally posted by Dianne, Michael’s mom, thought I would include this insightful post on this thread. Thanks Dianne for sharing.

64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief

I wish someone had told me . . .

1.     No matter how prepared you think you are for a death, you can never be fully prepared for the loss and the grief.

2.     You can plan for death, but death does not always comply with our wishes or plans.

3.     “Stop avoiding and be present”.

4.     “Dying is not like you see on TV or in the movies.  It is not peaceful or prepared.  You may not have a spiritual or meaningful moment . . . It’s too real”.

5.     A hospital death is not always a bad death.

6.     A home death/hospice death is not always a good death.

7.     “There will be pressure from others to move on, even minutes or hours after a death, and this can lead to regrets”.

8.     “Death is not an emergency – there is always time to step back and take a moment to say goodbye”

9.     Death and grief make people uncomfortable, so be prepared for awkward encounters.

10.                        You will plan the funeral while in a haze.  If you aren’t happy with the funeral you had, have another memorial service later.

11.                        When people offer support, take them up on it.

12.                        People will bring you food because they don’t know what else to do.  Don’t feel bad throwing it away.

13.                        People will say stupid, hurtful things without even realizing it.

14.                        People will tell you things that aren’t true about your grief.

15.                        Death brings out the best and the worst in families, so be prepared.

16.                        There is no such thing as closure.

17.                        There is no timeline for grieving.  You can’t rush it.  You will grieve, in some form, forever.

18.                        “There will always be regrets.  No matter how much time you had, you’ll always want more”.

19.                        Guilt is a normal part of grief.

20.                        Anger is normal part of grief.

21.                        “The pain of a loss is a reflection of love, but you never regret loving as hard as you can”.

22.                        Grief can make you question your faith.

23.                        Grief doesn’t come in 5 neat stages.  Grief is messy and confusing”.

24.                        Grief makes you feel like you are going crazy.

25.                        Grief can make you question your life, your purpose, and your goals.  And that isn’t always a bad thing.

26.                        We all grieve differently, which can create strain and confusion between family members and friends.

27.                         “However badly you think it is going to hurt, it is going to be a million times worse”.

28.                         You may find comfort in very unexpected places.

29.                        “You should go somewhere to debrief after care giving”.

30.                         “The last 24 hours of their lives will replay in your mind”.

31.                        Trying to protect children from death and the emotions of grief isn’t helpful.

32.                        “It’s sometimes necessary to seek out new ways to grieve on your own, find new guidance, if the people who are supposed to be supportive simply haven’t learned how”.

33.                         “You grieve your past, present, and future with that person”.

34.                        Big life events and milestones will forever be bittersweet.

35.                        Grief triggers are everywhere – you will see things that remind you of your loved one all over the place, and it may lead to sudden outbursts of emotion.

36.                        “You lose yourself, your identity, meaning, purpose, values, your trust”.

37.                        Holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays will be hard forever.

38.                        People will tell you what you should and shouldn’t feel and how you should and shouldn’t grieve.  Ignore them.

39.                        “The grief process is about not only mourning the loss, but getting to know yourself as a different person”.

40.                        There is no normal when it comes to grieving.

41.                        Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

42.                        “It is normal to feel numb after it happens.  The tears will come. They come in waves”.

43.                        Grief can make you feel selfish and entitled, and that’s okay (at least for a while).

44.                        Meeting new people, who never knew the person who died, can be hard and sad.  But eventually it can be nice to “introduce” them through stories and photographs.

45.                        The practice of sending thank you notes after a funeral is a cruel and unusual tradition.

46.                        “People love to judge how you are doing.  Watch out for those people”.

47.                        You can’t compare grief or compare losses, though people will try.

48.                        Any loss you grieve is a valid loss, though people will sometimes make you feel otherwise.

49.                        “Just because you feel pretty good one day it doesn’t mean you are cured of your grief”.

50.                        There are many days when you will feel totally and completely alone, whether you are or not.

51.                        Grief can make you do stupid, crazy things.  They may be what you need at the time time, but you may regret them later.  Cut yourself some slack.

52.                        Grief can make you a stronger person than you were before.

53.                        Grief counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy or weak.

54.                        It is okay to cry sometimes.

55.                        It is okay NOT to cry sometimes.

56.                        “Time does NOT heal all wounds”.

57.                        “Grief re-writes your address book”. Sometimes the people you think will be there for you are not.  People you never expect become your biggest supporters.

58.                        “You don’t get over it, you just get used to it”.

59.                        It is okay to tell people when they are not being helpful.

60.                        Watch your drinking– alcohol can quickly become an unhealthy friend.

61.                        You will have to face your emotions eventually – you can avoid them for a while, but they will catch up with you in the end.

62.                        Talking isn’t the only way to express and process emotions.

63.                        You will never go back to being your “old self”.  Grief changes you and you are never the same.

64.                        Nothing you do in the future will change your love for the person who died.  Eventually you will begin to enjoy life again, date again, have another child, seek new experiences, or whatever.  None of these things will diminish your love for the person you lost.

 

 

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I have been on my journey of grief slightly over a year now...I lost my son, Jesse, October of 2012...

During this time, while many have been helpful, there are always those who just don't know how to respond, or ignore you because they can't deal with it or worse start telling you how to manage your grief...and they don't have a clue...

The following advice on how to help someone in grief by Dr. Alan Wolfelt really spoke to me on how to help those of us in deep mourning....especially the listening of stories, told and retold...

His idea of truly being a companion to those in grief is what I have needed in my own journey through losing now my second son....

" To companion our fellow human beings means to witness and learn as opposed to playing the 'scientific expert.' My 11 tenets of companioning the bereaved are as follows:

  • Companioning is about honoring the spirit; it is not about focusing on intellect.

  • Companioning is about curiosity; it is not about expertise.

  • Companioning is about learning from others, it is not about teaching.

  • Companioning is about walking alongside; it is not about leading or being led.

  • Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.

  • Companioning is about discovering the gifts of sacred silence it is not about a filling every painful moment with talk.

  • Companioning is about listening with the heart. It is not about analyzing with the head.

  • Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about judging or directing those struggles.

  • Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain; it is not about taking away or relieving the pain.

  • Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing order and logic.

  • Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.

You’ll note that a central role of the companion to the mourner is related to the art of honoring stories and being taught by the true expert—which is the person going through the experience.

Yes, I realize that the art of honoring stories sounds soft to scientists, but the good news is that it seems to work, and I plan to keep on teaching about the long-held understanding that telling and re-telling personal stories of love and loss are essential elements of supporting people in grief."

Jesse David's Mom,

Just read your posting on "Companion". Thank you for sharing. The past two days, have been grueling. I have been in a very dark place. The pain and hurt have been intense. More than any other time. Tears invite themselves...remain for untold time. Early part of the week, I did well. I'd cry, dry my eyes and continue with "Yana Projects." I've not return to them for some days now. I know this will get better as time passes. So hard though--when you lose a child, you lose a piece of yourself. I'm merely trying hold on aware of that piece never will be restored.

Today's Daily Word, offered a message: "Let GO. Let God." I attempt to do just that; and ask for His guidance and support and comfort, as I cannot do this alone. And, I appreciate all on this site bringing words of comfort to ease the pain as well.

I shall make a copy of your "Companion" and refer to it often. My prayers go out to you and your family. We, in time, will heal. The heart will hurt, but the hurt will lessen (at least this is what I tell myself).

May God be with you.

Barbara

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ayanna, I love and miss you dearly. Your human spirit was filled with courage and hope. And, I shall display those same attributes in kind. Continue to sit on my shoulder and help in my guidance, please. Love. Love. Love you much.

Mommy (You're my Earth Angel...Now Heaven's Angel

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Jesse David's Mom,

Just read your posting on "Companion". Thank you for sharing. The past two days, have been grueling. I have been in a very dark place. The pain and hurt have been intense. More than any other time. Tears invite themselves...remain for untold time. Early part of the week, I did well. I'd cry, dry my eyes and continue with "Yana Projects." I've not return to them for some days now. I know this will get better as time passes. So hard though--when you lose a child, you lose a piece of yourself. I'm merely trying hold on aware of that piece never will be restored.

Today's Daily Word, offered a message: "Let GO. Let God." I attempt to do just that; and ask for His guidance and support and comfort, as I cannot do this alone. And, I appreciate all on this site bringing words of comfort to ease the pain as well.

I shall make a copy of your "Companion" and refer to it often. My prayers go out to you and your family. We, in time, will heal. The heart will hurt, but the hurt will lessen (at least this is what I tell myself).

May God be with you.

Barbara

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ayanna, I love and miss you dearly. Your human spirit was filled with courage and hope. And, I shall display those same attributes in kind. Continue to sit on my shoulder and help in my guidance, please. Love. Love. Love you much.

Mommy (You're my Earth Angel...Now Heaven's Angel

Barbara, you may like this article from Guideposts...it is from a Mom of the Columbine shootings:

http://www.guidepost...-victims-mother

Here is a poem I wrote for Jesse early on:

Hopes and Dreams Lost

Today I touched what you left behind,

Oh, so many memories attached to it all.

I gently rub my fingers across the last shirt you wore,

And try to inhale your remaining scent embedded in the fabric.

Packing and sorting your life, your hopes and dreams that will never be...

What am I searching for among this earthly stuff?

Perhaps trying in vain to recreate that which is lost,

And I want to pretend so hard that yesterday never happened….

I remember the words of Jesus, “In my house are many mansions…”

Prepare my heavenly place next to you, oh so close,

Where you will always be within the reach of my embrace…

Your Mom forever…

**************************************************************

Prayers to you...

II Cor 5:1

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I found this Article written by David Kessler who is a grief counselor mentored under Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I find these stories of how consciousness and the spirit continues after our physical death provides me some measure comfort and reassurance of seeing both of my sons when it is my time.

 

***************************************************************************
 
What We Can't Explain at the End of Life: Who and What You See Before You Die
 
When a loved one is dying, chances are he's experiencing more than we can see. Grief expert David Kessler offers insight into what your family member is going through—whether you can understand it or not.
Article By David Kessler

http://grief.com/ 
 

Throughout my years of working with the dying and the bereaved, I have noticed commonly shared experiences that remain beyond our ability to explain and fully understand. The first are visions. As the dying see less of this world, some people appear to begin looking into the world to come. It's not unusual for the dying to have visions, often of someone who has already passed on. Your loved one may tell you that his deceased father visited him last night, or your loved one might speak to his mom as if she were there in the room at that time.

It was almost 15 years ago that I was sitting at the bedside of my teacher, Elisabeth Kübler Ross', when she turned to me and asked, "What do you think about the deceased visiting those on their deathbeds to greet them?" I replied quickly, showing my knowledge back to her: "You're speaking of deathbed visions, most likely caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain or a side effect of morphine." She looked at me and sighed, "It will come with maturity."

I thought to myself: "Maturity? What did maturity have to do with anything?" Now, years later, I look at the events we still can't explain that happen at the end of life and realize what Elisabeth was saying. It would be arrogant to think we can explain everything, especially when it comes to dying.

 

My mother died when I was still a preteen. My father remained an incredible optimist his whole life, even when he was dying. I was busy trying to make sure he was comfortable and pain-free, and at first didn't notice he had become very sad. He told me how much he was going to miss me once he was gone. And then he mentioned how much he was saying goodbye to: his loved ones, his favorite foods, the sky, the outdoors and a million other things of this world. He was overcome by sadness I could not (and would not) take away from him.

My father was very down-hearted for the next few days. But then one morning he told me my mother, his wife, had come to him the night before. "David, she was here for me," he said with an excitement I had not seen in him in years. "I was looking at all I was losing, and I'd forgotten that I was going to be with her again. I'm going to see her soon." He looked at me as he realized I would still remain here. Then he added, "We'll be there waiting for you." Over the next two days, his demeanor changed dramatically. He had gone from a hopeless dying man with only death in front of him to a hopeful man who was going to be reunited with the love of his life. My father lived with hope and also died with it.

When I started compiling examples to include in my book Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die, I was surprised by how similar they were. In fact, it was hard to pick which ones to use because they were all so much alike. Now I realize the very thing that makes them repetitious is also what makes them unique. As someone who has spent most of my life writing, teaching and working with the dying, I can't prove to you that my father's vision was real. I can only talk about my experience as a son and about countless other occurrences that take place every day. I used to believe the only thing we needed to alleviate was the suffering of the dying by providing good pain management and symptom control. I know now that we have more—we have the "who" and "what" we see before we die, which is perhaps the greatest comfort to the dying.

Some interesting and unexplainable items about deathbed visions:

 
Visions people experience at the end of life are remarkably similar.
 
The dying are most often visited by their mothers. It shouldn't be too surprising that the person who is actually present as we cross the threshold of life and take our first breaths once again appears at the threshold as we take our last breaths.

 

- Hands passionately reaching upward to some unseen force is witnessed in many deathbed encounters.
- Visions mostly occur toward a corner of the room.
- Those family members at a deathbed are not able to see the vision or participate in the conversation.
- Visions usually occur hours to weeks before death.
- Visions don't seem to appear in other frightening situations where death is not likely, such as stuck in an elevator, lost in a foreign city or lost hiking.
- Unlike traditional healthcare, the law treats a dying person's last words as the truth.
 

Comment from a user on this article:
 

Article Comment posted August 3, 2014 by user
2 days ago

 

About two months before my father passed away, he had a very clear and detailed deathbed vision. I was visiting him in the hospital on a Sunday and we were both reading the Sunday paper. I was sitting in a chair by his side. I glanced up from the paper to see that he had laid his paper and his chest and was intently looking at something on the wall slightly beyond the foot of his bed. I asked him what it was that he saw, and he responded "don't you see her?". I replied that I didn't, but pressed him for more information. I asked, "is it anyone you know?" and his response was that he didn't know her but that she was very pleasant looking. He went on to describe her in vivid detail; she was an older woman with long silver hair, glasses, and wearing a sweater. In her hands she held a book. At one point, my father spoke and said, "look at her now, she's as tall as the room!".

 

I got up and walked across the front of his bed, but his gaze never broke from what he was staring at. I walked out into the hallway and then came back into the room. I asked my father if the woman was still there and he said she was. He then added, "she watched you as you went out of the room". This made me realize that my dad was very much aware of everything going on, including the fact that I had just walked out of the room. I told him I was going to the cafeteria and would be right back. When I returned a few minutes later, my dad informed me that the lady had left with me and had also returned with me. I sat down and said nothing more on the subject to him. I left for the evening and he didn't mention the woman again.

 

The following day, I met his doctor in the hallway and shared the experience with her. She was quite candid in her response, stating that while I would not find evidence of these deathbed visions in any medical journal, that in her experience they were quite common. She said" prepare yourself, because the end is near for him".

 

Two months later, my dad passed. I was sadly not with him at the moment of death, but when I came to the hospital, I noted that he had a look of incredible peace on his face, almost a smile. I had never seen that look on his face ever. I can only surmise that he was indeed accompanied at the moment of transition by an angel or some other spiritual being. These deathbed visions are very comforting and a phenomenon that mere science cannot explain.
 
 
Article retrieved August 5, 2014
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Who-and-What-You-See-Before-You-Die

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Laurie,

I know Renea and I plan on attending the Compassionate Friends meeting here in Carson City at the end of the month. They only meet monthly, but one time is better than "no times." It will be good to meet others in person. This site is fantastic, but I think I also need the comfort in person. Thank you for the reminder...:)

And you are so right about "honoring stories." That seems to be the most helpful for me. I want others to see Brooks as I saw him...always giving...always caring...always smiling. I had him for 24 years, but I want others to have him for longer. You have been a Godsend Laurie...thank you.

Wade

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Wade,

Do forgive me. Prior to going to bed, I returned to my quote to read and mull over. I noticed when sharing with you,

I did from memory and omitted (which to me) were important words, "from the hand." Allow me to requote if I may:

If we have have been pleased with life...we should NOT be displeased with death, since it comes from the HAND of the same MASTER.

Sorry for the boo boo :(

Barbara

Good night all!

Barbara

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Books I have found especially helpful

Grief

A Grief Observed
C.S. Lewis
"And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness."

Entering the Healing Ground
 In the Healing Ground¸ author Francis Weller, offers a new vision of grief and sorrow. He reveals the hidden vitality in grief, uncovered when the heart welcomes the sorrows of our life and those of the world. We are ripened in times of loss, made more human by the rites of grief. Through story, poetry and insightful reflections, Francis offers a meditation on the healing power of grief. 

http://www.amazon.com/Entering-Healing-Ground-Grief-Ritual/dp/0983599920/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416234798&sr=1-1&keywords=entering+the+healing+ground 
 

Life After the Death of My Son: What I'm Learning
Dennis Apple
Life After the Death of My Son shares a glimpse of the unspeakable pain, helplessness, frustration, and eventual healing that Dennis and his wife, Buelah, have experienced since losing their son. Using excerpts from his journal—which he began the day after Denny died—Dennis explores the dark, lonely road of grieving for a child. He discloses his anger and disappointment with God, discusses his frustrations with friends and family, and shares how he’s dealt with the grief attacks, which continue to sneak up and surprise him. His painful, yet promising story offers comfort and connection to those walking similar paths. Dennis is now a grief counselor.

Understanding Death

 

Diane Komp

In the early years of her practice, Dr. Diane Komp reported to the bedside of dying children out of duty. But one day the scene that followed changed her life. Just before seven-year-old Anna died, she mustered the strength to sit up in bed and cry: “The angels–they’re so beautiful! Mommy, can you see them? Do you hear their singing? I’ve never heard such beautiful singing!” Then she lay back on her pillow and died, reports Komp in her book Images of Grace (Zondervan).

 

A Window to Heaven

http://www.amazon.com/Window-Heaven-When-Children-Death/dp/0310589703

Images of Grace (collection of her three books)

http://www.amazon.com/Images-Grace-Diane-Komp-M-D/dp/0310206995/ref=pd_sim_b_2/191-0573981-4935032?ie=UTF8&refRID=0MTGK0B6MFWP3BCNSMKK

 

Final Gifts
Patricia Kelley and Maggie Callanan
"Dying people often interact with someone invisible to others— talking to them, smiling or nodding at them. Sometimes, more than one invisible person is involved. The unseen person’s identity often is clear to the dying. Generally they recognize someone significant from their lives— parent, spouse, sibling, friend— who is already dead. There is often a sense of pleasure, even of joyful reunion, in seeing that person again."

http://www.amazon.com/Final-Gifts-Understanding-Awareness-Communications/dp/1451667256/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416234339&sr=1-1&keywords=final+gifts+understanding+the+special+awareness+needs+and+communications+of+the+dying

 

On LIFE after DEATH
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
"After sitting at the deathbeds of children and old people for many years, listening intently to what they are conveying to you, you will recognize that they know when death is approaching."

http://www.amazon.com/Life-after-Death-revised/dp/1587613182/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416234210&sr=1-1&keywords=On+LIFE+after+DEATH

 

On Children and Death: How Children and Their Parents Can and Do Cope With Death
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Chapter 3 on sudden death was especially helpful.

"One couple shared the story of their eight-year-old girls who died by a freak accident during a trip overseas....After the death of their little girl, they found "evidence" that their little daughter had prepared things to leave behind, as little messages of love.

http://www.amazon.com/Life-after-Death-revised/dp/1587613182/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416234653&sr=1-2&keywords=on+children+and+death+elisabeth+kubler-ross

 

Special Topics

 

Premonitions can occur when a loved one is close to death, even accidental. Here is one book I found on this topic. It is written by Erin Linn who lost her 6 year old son, Micheal. Talking with many bereaved parents, this topic would surface quietly. It is still very relevent today though it was published in 1991.

 

Premonitions Visitatations and Dreams

Erin Linn, published 1991.

Collection of real stories by the author. Recommended by Compassionate Friends

http://www.amazon.com/Premonitions-Visitations-Dreams-Erin-Linn/dp/B0071QOXMW

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Laurie,

Thank you for creating this thread. I've never seen the list on companioning before. I shared it on my facebook page because I thought it was perfect. I also have watched one of the videos. I think it is so helpful to have all these things in one place. Thank you for sharing all you do.

Shannon

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  • Guilt becomes a powerful companion as you blame yourself for the death of your child. Rationally you know that you were not to blame—you most certainly would have saved your child if you'd been given the chance.
  • You feel great sadness and depression as you wrestle with the idea that everything important to you has been taken from you. Your future has been ruined and nothing can ever make it right.

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I found a book that has been helpful for both my husband and I. It is:

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

by Martha Whitmore Hickman

Thank you for supplying other resources. I found I could do some work myself in the Companioning area with my husband.

Jill

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I found a book that has been helpful for both my husband and I. It is:

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

by Martha Whitmore Hickman

Thank you for supplying other resources. I found I could do some work myself in the Companioning area with my husband.

Jill

Jill, thanks for sharing the book, I will have to look it up on Amazon...

Jesse David's Mom,

Laurie

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gallery_312988_263_236531.gif

 

 

Very touching post someone left for me on this image:

 

God bless you Jesse David's mom. I am Brian's mom, Chris, love love this angel and the love you have for your son, as I do mine..I believe we will get up and breathe and do our duties...then go Home too. I remind myself, as well as others, to...breathe...John Brian mums is with David, Brian told me "mom, im free, its Amazing"...before the Dr. gave me words I couldn't understand.

 

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Over the Rainbow Bridge

True story about Cory Enebrad who passed at age 9 from cancer. Book was highly recommended by Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

 

post-312988-0-00531200-1419017256_thumb.

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"When loss is a story, there is no right or wrong way to grieve."

 

SIDS death

Grief and its Integration

 

By PATRICK O’MALLEY JANUARY 10, 2015 1:16 PM January 10, 2015 1:16 pm

 

By the time Mary came to see me, six months after losing her daughter to sudden infant death syndrome, she had hired and fired two other therapists. She was trying to get her grief right.

 

Mary was a successful accountant, a driven person who was unaccustomed to being weighed down by sorrow. She was also well versed in the so-called stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To her and so many others in our culture, that meant grief would be temporary and somewhat predictable, even with the enormity of her loss. She expected to be able to put it behind her and get on with her life.

 

To look at her, she already had done so. The mask she wore for the world was carefully constructed and effective. She seemed to epitomize what many people would call “doing really well,” meaning someone who had experienced a loss but looked as if she was finished grieving. Within a few days of the death of her daughter she was back at work and seemed to function largely as before.

 

The truth of her life was something else. Six months after her baby’s death she remained in deep despair. She was exhausted from acting better than she felt around co-workers, friends and family. As is so often the case, she had diagnosed her condition as being “stuck” in grief, believing that a stubborn depression was preventing her from achieving acceptance and closure.

 

Was she in denial, she wondered. She also wondered if she was appropriately angry. The bottom line was that she knew she was depressed — a psychiatrist had prescribed an antidepressant — and that is what she wanted me to treat.

 

Earlier in my practice, I would have zeroed in on that depression. Was there a family history? Had she been depressed before? Was the medicine helping? What were her specific symptoms? Knowing the answers might suggest why she was stuck. Or I would have reviewed the stages of grief, as she had, looking for one in which the work remained incomplete.

 

But I had begun to operate differently by the time Mary showed up, which was 10 years after my own loss. My firstborn child had also died before he was a year old. It was why Mary had chosen me.

 

In our first session I put Mary’s depression aside. I asked her to tell me the story of her baby rather than describe the symptoms of her grief. Though she was resistant, she eventually started to talk.

 

Like most other things in Mary’s life, the baby, whom she named Stephanie, was planned. Mary was delighted with her pregnancy and had wonderful dreams for her daughter. After a routine delivery, Mary stayed home with Stephanie for the first three months. Returning to work had been difficult, but Mary was comfortable with the child-care arrangement, and managed to balance motherhood with her busy professional schedule.

 

Then Mary told me about the Saturday when she went to check on her napping daughter and found that Stephanie wasn’t breathing. She began C.P.R. as her husband called 911. There were moments of surreal focus as she and her husband tried to save their baby. Then this woman, so accustomed to being in control, had to surrender her daughter to an emergency crew. Her husband drove as they followed the ambulance to the hospital.

 

She described the waiting room in great detail, down to the color of the furniture. When the hospital chaplain walked in with the doctor she knew her baby was gone. She and her husband were taken into a room where they held the baby for the last time.

 

At this point in her story Mary finally began to weep, intensely so. She seemed surprised by the waves of emotion that washed over her. It was the first time since the death that the sadness had poured forth in that way. She said she had never told the story of her daughter from conception to death in one sitting.

 

“What is wrong with me?” she asked as she cried. “It has been almost seven months.”

 

Very gently, using simple, nonclinical words, I suggested to Mary that there was nothing wrong with her. She was not depressed or stuck or wrong. She was just very sad, consumed by sorrow, but not because she was grieving incorrectly. The depth of her sadness was simply a measure of the love she had for her daughter.

 

A transformation occurred when she heard this. She continued to weep but the muscles in her face relaxed. I watched as months of pent-up emotions were released. She had spent most of her energy trying to figure out why she was behind in her grieving. She had buried her feelings and vowed to be strong because that’s how a person was supposed to be.

 

Now, in my office, stages, self-diagnoses and societal expectations didn’t matter. She was free to surrender to her sorrow. As she did, the deep bond with her little girl was rekindled. Her loss was now part of her story, one to claim and cherish, not a painful event to try to put in the past.

 

I had gone through the same process after the loss of my son. I was in my second year of practice when he died, and I subsequently had many grieving patients referred to me. The problem in those early days was that my grief training was not helping either my patients or me. When I was trained, in the late 1970s, the stages of grief were the standard by which a grieving person’s progress was assessed.

 

THAT model is still deeply and rigidly embedded in our cultural consciousness and psychological language. It inspires much self-diagnosis and self-criticism among the aggrieved. This is compounded by the often subtle and well-meaning judgment of the surrounding community. A person is to grieve for only so long and with so much intensity.

 

To be sure, some people who come to see me exhibit serious, diagnosable symptoms that require treatment. Many, however, seek help only because they and the people around them believe that time is up on their grief. The truth is that grief is as unique as a fingerprint, conforms to no timetable or societal expectation.

 

Based on my own and my patients’ experiences, I now like to say that the story of loss has three “chapters.” Chapter 1 has to do with attachment: the strength of the bond with the person who has been lost. Understanding the relationship between degree of attachment and intensity of grief brings great relief for most patients. I often tell them that the size of their grief corresponds to the depth of their love.

 

Chapter 2 is the death event itself. This is often the moment when the person experiencing the loss begins to question his sanity, particularly when the death is premature and traumatic. Mary had prided herself on her ability to stay in control in difficult times. The profound emotional chaos of her baby’s death made her feel crazy. As soon as she was able, she resisted the craziness and shut down the natural pain and suffering.

 

Chapter 3 is the long road that begins after the last casserole dish is picked up — when the outside world stops grieving with you. Mary wanted to reassure her family, friends and herself that she was on the fast track to closure. This was exhausting. What she really needed was to let herself sink into her sadness, accept it.

 

When I suggested a support group, Mary rejected the idea. But I insisted. She later described the relief she felt in the presence of other bereaved parents, in a place where no acting was required. It was a place where people understood that they didn’t really want to achieve closure after all. To do so would be to lose a piece of a sacred bond.

 

“All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them,” said the writer Isak Dinesen. When loss is a story, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no pressure to move on. There is no shame in intensity or duration. Sadness, regret, confusion, yearning and all the experiences of grief become part of the narrative of love for the one who died.

 

********************************************************************

 

Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth.

 

This is an essay from Couch, a series about psychotherapy at nytimes.com/opinionator. Some details have been altered to protect patient privacy.

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Trudi Harris

Deathbed Visions

 

Trudi Harris was a Hospice nurse for more than 22 years and former president of the Hospice Foundation for Caring. She shares her patient's end of life stories.

http://www.guidepost...ife-after-death
 
Columbine Mom shares Experience with Angels

 

From the Guideposts web site, a mom of one of the victim's from the Columbine shootings shares her supernatural experience with angels.
http://www.guidepost...-victims-mother

 

 

gallery_312988_2_157360.png

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Compassionate Friends Meeting: Speaker Carol Kearns. She is a grief counselor who lost her little girl Krissie at age 8. Carol was mentored under Elizabeth Kubler Ross

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Rabbi Harold Kushner

 

Author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," Rabbi Harold Kushner offers his perspective on coping with personal tragedies.

His own son, Aaron, was diagnosed at 3 years old and was afflicted with a rare and baffling disease and would not live beyond his teens. "I couldn't make sense of what the doctor was saying," Kushner remembers. "After all, we didn't deserve to be punished."

 

Aaron suffered from progeria, or "rapid aging."

 

 

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This is one of my favorite songs by the late Rich Mullins who passed away in a tragic accident, September 1997. 
 


This image is from an old bookmark that came from my grandmother's bible. It helped me especially in the first raw grief when those moments would come where I felt I fell off a cliff...and lay at the bottom broken...
 

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