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Another gem from our friends at What's Your Grief?

Is "Deathiversary" Actually a Word?

Deathiversary . . .crapiversary . . . angelversary . . . death anniversary . . . whichever you prefer (and many more options abound) none ever feel quite right to me.  And as much as I want a word, something to easily explain to people why there is a cloud hanging over me on a certain day of the year, it feels almost appropriate that there is no real word for a date marking the creation of a hole in the universe.  Read on here >>>


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Widower's Grief


Advice For Grief Recovery

Posted: 09 Aug 2017 04:19 AM PDT

My friend Fred Erwin wrote what he would share with people if they were grieving. His words are filled with wisdom, truth, and compassion. These are his thoughts with a few of my own. 
Pay attention to your grief.  
It is right for us to grieve because people we love have died. They died too soon, and they died before we were ready. They died before we had learned all we could from them. They were an important part of our lives, and their absence leaves a hole.
Grief will last for longer than you expect.
Grief will bring many emotions and physical sensations as we move through the days, weeks and months—shock, sorrow, loneliness, despair, rage, depression, aches, chills, discomforts and more. Do not hide from any of them. And if you have any unresolved grief from the past, that will probably come back.
Death is a physical event and grief is the appropriate physical response.
Gather with family and friends and share stories about the one who died. You know much about the person’s life, but you do not know everything. Sharing with others fills in the gaps and brings new insights and understanding. We hear stories we never knew. Be honest in your sharing because everyone has weaknesses and flaws. This is the time to acknowledge the fullness and contradictions of your loved one's life.
The biggest danger with grief is to fear or deny it because then psychological problems begin.  
Allow yourself to cry when you feel like crying, and weep when moments move deeper. People expect those who are grieving to be emotional and you have their permission to grieve now. They won’t be as understanding if you put grief off for five or twenty years. 
Be prepared for visitations from the departed, whether this happens in dreams, visions, or simply feeling their presence when you see their possessions or smell a familiar scent. This can also be a time for you to complete unfinished business. If there is something you always wanted to say to the one who died, now is an excellent time.
Find relief in the rituals and prayers of your tradition, whatever they are.  
Many people have walked the path of grief before us. They bear witness to the fact that people survive grief, that they patch their lives back together, and that they are able to find happiness again.
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Dear all

Dear Marty

Do you have any suggestion of articles about grief and resillience? I am a bit confused about resilience, I've been targeted with that word/advise which to me doesn't make sense with what I'm going through.

So, I would like to learn more.

Thanks in advance. 

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Worst Grief

Sometimes when we’re feeling bitten hard by grief, or just snarky, we try to prove that we are hurting the most, that our grief is the worst that anyone has ever experienced. In the entire world. Ever.
I’ve lost a wife in her 40s, three beloved pets (well, one not so beloved), both parents (one to dementia), all my grandparents, a friend to AIDS, two to murder, several to cancer, one to suicide, and a number of young friends to car accidents. As I walk among the tombstones in my private cemetery, it would be hard to put them on a scale of the worst because they each hit me hard in different ways.
The severity of grief depends upon who died, the quality of our relationship with that person, the circumstances of death, the volume and frequency of death in our lives, and what else was going on at the time.
No death is simple. Every death carves its own canyon of unimaginable sorrow.
A wife who dies in her 40s seems more tragic than a wife who dies in her 80s. One death, after a long life of adventures, is expected, while with the other death we also mourn all the years ahead that were lost.
Many of us feel closer to one parent than another, so one parent’s death affects us more. But what if one parent was abusive to the other, or to us? Should we feel any grief for a parent who abandoned us when we were young?
Do we grieve close friends we have chosen more than relationships we were born into?
I have not lost a child, but I imagine that this might be among the worst losses of all because we are supposed to protect them. If they died from something like cancer, then there are also our feelings of injustice for a child dying, anger at cancer, and guilt for not having taken care of them, even if there was absolutely nothing more that we could have done.
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale measures the impact of changes in our lives. On it, the death of a spouse is at the top with 100 points. Divorce is second at 73. The death of a close family member is 63, and I’m guessing that losing a child is included here since I don’t see it listed separately. Losing a job has 47 points.
Even good changes are stressful, like getting married (50) or buying a house (31), because we have to make major adjustments in our life. If several changes happen at the same time, good and bad, the stress points add up. When our total is over 300, we are at a high risk of breaking and becoming ill.
Perhaps the first death of someone close is the worst, because not only has someone died, but our childhood belief in the innocence of life may also disappear. Dylan Thomas wrote about this. Maybe the third death in a month unravels us more because it tips our fragile balance over to the dark side and it seems that everyone we love is either dying or dead. If we’re retired and our spouse is gone, the death of our best friend or pet might be what causes our Tower of Resolve to fall.
Besides who died and our relationship with them, there is the how.
Was the death from a slow and painful illness? Was it sudden or peaceful? Was the death a suicide or deliberately caused by someone else? These things can make us question whether goodness exists in the core of every person.
I find myself mourning the death of good people I don’t know because the world doesn’t have enough compassionate people, just a lot of the angry, too-busy, and self-absorbed. Do we ever get used to people dying and taking parts of us away? Is there a limit to our endurance?
Perhaps the worst grief is the one where we never forgive ourselves.
Posted by Mark Liebenow at 6:24 AM 

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I would think losing a child would measure higher than a "close family member" but I've learned not to compare loss...losing parents might rate high for one person, lower for another, depending on their relationship, how entwined their lives were, how close they were.  There may be a rule of thumb, but there's a high number of exceptions for every rule it seems.  Every contributory factor seems to weigh in.

I found this article I got today to be interesting...it helped me understand for the first time why my mom chose the most expensive casket she could ill afford for my dad, but came home and immediately discarded all of his clothes...  https://whatsyourgrief.com/grief-greed-families-fight-material-possessions/

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 Posted by Teresa TL Bruce on her blog today, 09/18/2017

The Seven-Year Glitch: When Grieving Gets Easier

It — That Day — snuck up on me this year. Granted, I’ve had a lot on my mind the last month:

  • Waiting for the birth of my first grandchild in another state
  • Helping my daughter recover from the birth of her daughter
  • Rushing home to prepare my house for Hurricane Irma’s attack on my state
  • Cleaning up after Irma smacked Florida up one side, across the middle, and up the other side as well
  • Juggling the usual stuff — editing, writing, paying bills, tending to family needs …

Some residents displayed humor in the aftermath of massive cleanup following Hurricane Irma. In worse-hit areas, there’s not much to laugh about as residents try to reassemble their lives. (photo by Teresa TL Bruce, TealAshes.com)

So it makes sense that I felt distracted while attempting to work last week. I missed my precious baby granddaughter (and her parents) while I dealt with Irma issues. Even so, I’m usually better able to tune out distractions while polishing prose — whether my clients’ or my own.

As that long, long week drew to an end, realization hit me. All at once, I understood what kept my attention blowing aside, why my mind felt muddled, where the eye of my inner storm hit a wall:

In a handful of days I would complete my seventh year as a widow. I once again faced the anniversary of my husband’s unexpected death. Read on here >>>

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I’m pretty sure when a doctor prescribes medication to a patient they’re supposed to discuss the potential side effects with them.  By pretty sure I mean this seems to make sense to me but I’m actually not 100% sure what the rule is because I avoid taking medication at all costs.

It just seems like good practice to warn patients about all the weird symptoms they’re likely to experience as a result of a medication, treatment, or therapy.  That way they don’t show up at your office in a week all like “well, my acid reflux is gone but I haven’t gone to the bathroom in a week.” Or, in the case of emotional exploration and certain therapy, saying “What’s going on doc?  I feel like a basket case!”

My current outlook has me contemplating this and feeling a bit remiss.  Since our inception, we’ve discussed many ways to explore, express, and seek therapy for grief, but we’ve never provided the disclaimer that sometimes some of these things may initially make you feel worse.

On some level you probably already understood healing means opening wounds and poking around.  It’s why we avoid thinking and talking about the things which force us to feel the sting of being scared, angry, guilty, hollow, and small.  We avoid the road that leads into darkness because we aren’t sure it will ever open onto a sunny path.

Maybe we should have warned you that when we asked you to explore your grief, we were really asking you to dive into the pain and keep swimming.  We were asking you to tolerate it, sit with it, and even embrace it.  Perhaps we should have clarified, many of the methods we recommend – journaling, art, therapy, etc – have the potential to make you feel miserable before you feel better.Side Effects

I remember someone talking about being in couple’s therapy, I can’t really remember who, but they said it’s kind of a nightmare.  For an hour they are forced to open up in a way they never have before.  Theoretically, things like honesty, communication, and truth are positive, but anyone who’s been in a relationship knows they can also sometimes lead to pain.  It makes total sense for a couple to leave these sessions feeling like crap, unable to recognize any progress in their capacity to communicate, empathize, and cope which (in theory) ought to happen in the long run.

The same sometimes holds true with individual therapy, sometimes you wander down emotionally dark alleys, admit truths, and accept the unacceptable.  Some days you might leave feeling refreshed and invigorated and some days you swear you’re never going back again.  Oftentimes the burn means it’s working – read this article on whether it’s time to break up with your therapist and if the answer is no, stick with it. 

Then there are the areas of creative, artistic, and expressive coping – journaling, art, writing, photography – these can be just as frustrating.  I’ve had a few people ask me if I think writing this blog has been cathartic and I think ultimately the answer is ‘yes’…but every so often I feel like the further in I dig here, the worse I feel.

Some days there are just no words or pictures to express how I’m feeling, and some days the words and pictures are right but troubling.  In my journal, I have at least a dozen opening paragraphs on a dozen different topics.  I write a paragraph, I stop writing, I look into space, and I think “no I don’t have the energy to explore this today”.  I’m not a writer so I don’t know if this is what writer's block feels like, but I am an avoider so I can say with complete certainty that I’m avoiding.  In order to write honestly it means admitting things and right now I’m just not in the mood.  My frustrated self tells me I’m better off lounging on the couch watching The Real Housewives of God Knows Where….but deep down I know I’m not.

My mother died many years ago and honestly it wasn’t even close to being the first time I felt the pangs of despair and hopelessness.  I’m not new to the game, I’ve experienced several different shades of anxiety and depression since my early 20s.  I know the frustrating feeling of “nothing I’m doing is working”. I know what it’s like to stand at the bottom of a pit without a ladder.  But I also know the only way to get out is to start digging.  To keep the things I know to be helpful even when I feel like I’m getting nowhere.

So this is my disclaimer to you, dealing with grief sometimes comes with a few emotional side effects.  The sting of sadness, guilt, shame, and despair – often these mean it’s working.  Don’t give up, keep trying, and call me in the morning.

Hey, you, make our day.  Subscribe to 'what's your grief' to receive posts straight to your inbox.

Edited by MartyT
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I like "What's Your Grief" and it's very handy having those articles sent directly to our email!

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BORROWED HOPE by Eloise Cole

Posted by The Compassionate Friends on October 16th, 2017

Lend me your hope for awhile,

I seem to have mislaid mine.

Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily.

Pain and confusion are my companions.

I know not where to turn.

Looking ahead to the future times

Does not bring forth images of renewed hope.

I see mirthless times, pain-filled days, and more tragedy.

Lend me your hope for awhile,

I seem to have mislaid mine.

Hold my hand and hug me,

Listen to all my ramblings.

I need to unleash the pain and let it tumble out.

Recovery seems so far distant,

The road to healing, a long and lonely one.

Stand by me. Offer me your presence,

Your ears and your love.

Acknowledge my pain, it is so real and ever present.

I am overwhelmed with sad and conflicting thoughts.

Lend me your hope for awhile.

A time will come when I will heal,

And I will lend my renewed hope to others.

~ Eloise Cole

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Beautiful.  It's so important to extend hope to those newer to this, they can't see it yet.  At my senior site there is much laughter, and kinship.  I look around and MOST of them are widowed.  

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