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Recognizing Your Own Progress Through Grief

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Just checked the mail and found from Hopsice the newsletter for Jan/Feb 2012 on Recognizing Your Own Progress through grief. All of our jouneys are so individual, and no time factor can be placed on this journey, and I know I will be affected by this episode for the rest of my life........but so comforting to read....that yes progress is occuring......it is almost like this newsletter was written just for me. Marty will you be posting this? Figure you will. Thanks Dave

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Dave, I'm so pleased to learn that this piece from HOV's newsletter spoke to you in such a meaningful way, and I am happy to post it here:

Recognizing Your Own Progress through Grief

How do you know you're making progress in your mourning? Remember that change isn't always obvious and dramatic; it is a process that takes place over time. The grief experience is different for everyone; it doesn't happen all at once or at the same rate of speed. And unless you're aware of the clues to recovery and their significance, your progress through grief may be so subtle and so gradual that you will not notice it at all.

If you can recognize certain changes in attitudes, feelings and behaviors in yourself, you can measure your own progress through grief. Become aware of your own healing. Notice when you are able to

∙ Drive somewhere by yourself without crying the entire time.

∙ Get through a day without feeling tired all the time.

∙ Concentrate on a book, movie or television program.

∙ Not think of your loved one for a period of time, however brief.

∙ Get through a few hours or days nearly free of pain.

∙ Return to a daily routine.

∙ Eat, sleep and exercise normally again.

∙ Participate in a religious service without crying.

∙ Accept invitations from friends and family.

∙ Listen to music you both loved without crying.

∙ Be more aware of the pain and suffering of others around you.

∙ Be more patient with yourself and with others.

∙ Notice others in like circumstances, and recognize and accept that loss is a common life experience.

∙ Reach out to another in a similar situation.

∙ Realize that the sometimes thoughtless comments of others stem from ignorance, not malice.

∙ Find something to be thankful for.

∙ Be patient with yourself through grief attacks.

∙ Feel confident again.

∙ Accept things as they are without trying to recapture the way they used to be.

∙ Think less about the past.

∙ Look forward to the day ahead of you.

∙ Reach out to the future less fearfully.

∙ Stop and notice life's little pleasures, the splendor of creation and the beauty in nature.

∙ Catch yourself smiling and laughing again.

∙ Feel comfortable spending time alone.

∙ Remember your loved one less idealistically— as less perfect, with more human than saintly qualities.

∙ Review both pleasant and unpleasant memories without being overcome by them.

∙ Reinvest the time and energy once spent on your loved one.

∙ Remodel your personal space: rearrange furniture; change colors and textures of walls.

∙ Re-make your personal image: change your hairstyle, make-up or clothing.

∙ Explore new foods, new places and new things.

∙ Feel more in control of your emotions and less overwhelmed by them.

∙ Feel freer to choose when and how to grieve.

∙ Talk about your loss more easily.

∙ Feel less preoccupied with yourself and your loss.

∙ Feel a renewed interest in giving love and receiving it.

∙ Look back and see your own progress.

∙ Notice that time doesn't drag as much; the weekends aren't as long.

∙ Notice that the good days outnumber the bad; the mood swings aren't as wide; the time between upsets is greater.

∙ Plan the future more effectively.

∙ Think more clearly and feel more in control of certain aspects of your life.

∙ Make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences.

∙ Feel open to new and healthy relationships while maintaining old ones.

∙ Discover abilities in yourself you haven't developed before or didn't even know you had.

∙ Fill some of the roles once filled by your loved one, or find others who can fill them.

∙ Recognize that loss has played an important part in your life, and that growth can be a positive outcome.

∙ Identify how this experience has changed you for the better: what you've learned, what you've become, and how you've grown.

∙ Share the lessons you have learned through loss with others.

At some point in your grieving process, you may feel the need to channel your pain, as well as the time and energy once devoted to your relationship with your loved one, into something productive and meaningful. As one who truly understands the grieving process, you may feel ready to reach out to others who are suffering the pain of loss. Once you've found your own way through the first year of grief, you will have a great deal to share with other grievers: you can identify with their struggles, empathize with their sorrows and doubts, and offer valuable information and support.

Hospice of the Valley was founded by volunteers, and to this day volunteers at Hospice of the Valley are considered vital members of the team. Volunteers in the Bereavement Office assist staff members with office tasks, special projects, sending condolence cards and preparing bulk mailings. Through periodic telephone calls over a thirteen-month period following the death, they offer compassion, understanding and support — as well as referrals to appropriate resources — to bereaved individuals whose family members were Hospice of the Valley patients. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at Hospice of the Valley, you are encouraged to contact the Bereavement Office, at 602-530-6970 or 602-530-6971.

by Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC, Bereavement Counselor

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Marty, I don't think you missed anything on this list. It is very helpful. I copied it to my desktop as a point of reference occasionally and it helps to see some of the progress I have made since Bill died. Thanks, Mary

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Yesterday I had great plans, tot ake the kids and show them off at work......but alas something better happened! they arrived to the ranch....saw the animals and I couldnt get them to leave the animals alone, it was fabulous! watching a 5 and 2 1/2 yr old chasing chickens, laughing when they were feeding the horses, being mauled with kisses from 4 dogs, getting swatted by cats, and visiting with the cowboys next door, while they were roping there calves! We laughed and wrestled, great pics were taken of me holding them upside dowm over mud puddles, you know all the stuff Uncles are to do to harrass them ( my Uncles were fond of doing that to me, but it was over the toilet!).The 2/12 yr old taught me about the crescent moon, the was present, HOW DOES SHE KNOW ABOUT SUCH THINGS!!! The kids were muddy, leaves in the hair, house a mess, but well wirth the memories of oneof the best days of my yr.......good way to finish it out, tomorrow they are wanting to go horse back riding.........one of my first times back on a horse, since this began.......guess Mikes way to get me back on one!

The only thing missing was seeing Mikes smile at this fun.....but know he was present egging me on.......

Before the kids arrived,there was a knock on my door.....an older man, looking for his lost dogs, He stated " My wife died on 12/9/11 and I cant bear the thought of loosing these dogs" It was intersting to me to share my story with him, and told him that I havent been on a horse since this began. His statement was " it is time for you to do that" i smiled, with teary eyes.....and then his dogs came right around the corner of my place, safe and sound! Small dogs, in Coyote territory....safe.....a good day! Did someone send him to my door for a reason?? another lesson? Was surprised that he has already packed up his house and will be leaving the area in the next few days, to return back to be around his kids back east......kinda sudden move.......but one I can respect......no family here at all, and his kids want him there.....I get it, wish him well!

Well need to hold on to what a nice day yesterday was......and use that memory as I deal with getting my stress and burnout under control.

Best Wishes...Dave

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It's great that you had a good day...now when you have a bad day you can remember that the good days happen to and it'll help you keep going and give you hope for another good one. :)

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Hi All,

I just read this and noticed that there are several parts of it that I can not do yet... It has been six years for me and I am still not half way yet... shelley

I feel that there is something wrong with me because I think I should be farther along... I am not doing well enough I need to get moving faster...

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Shelley, dear, when you read a list like this, it's important to remember that it is just a guide. Remember that each person's grief journey is unique to that individual, just as your entire life story is unique to you. No one else has walked in your shoes, no one else has your unique personality, no one else has lived your life as you have lived it. You've been here long enough for most of us to know that you have made remarkable forward progress under some very difficult and challenging circumstances, and for that we are very, very proud of you. Don't let a list like this one be the sole measure of your particular progress!

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Shelley, I can pretty much guarantee that I will probably never be able to say I do all that is on it well....even if I had not lost Bill and gone through an horrific chapter for 4+ years. 2 years, 6 years, whatever. I doubt any of us will. It is just a guideline...to give you an idea of things we struggle with and an idea of changes over time. I KNOW you have made great progress...I have seen your posts. I think you might pat yourself on the back and be proud of yourself. This is tough stuff.


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Thank you for posting this. Tonight has been a really bad night for some reason so I decided to come to the sight. Reading your post has helped me realize that I have made progress. It is just times liked tonight that I feel like I am going backwards. I know it has lot to do with the holidays and his birthday that just past. No matter how much I try to prepare certain things just hit me like a ton of bricks and I feel so lost.

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Shelly, you don't have to have EVERYTHING on the list to show marked progress, even SOME of those things mark progress! It's been 6 1/2 years for me and I STILL can't focus like I could before, STILL can't read a book, and STILL don't sleep in my bed. Have I made progress? Yes, tons! Do I still miss George and think of him often? Yes. But I didn't slam my car into a tree like I felt like doing at first, and I've somehow survived the last several years, I've somehow kept this place running by myself and the bills paid, in spite of losing my jobs TWICE and I know I'm a survivor...even if I lose my home and don't get a good full time job, I will survive somehow. The fact that I've done all of this by myself, without George, while mourning and missing him, is nothing short of a miracle to me. I don't cry often, I think I'm too tired. But my heart aches sometimes. I can watch a movie now. I don't pour over his pictures/cards, etc., it's still too painful. I don't know if I ever will be able to. I wanted to do a scrapbook of his life and I still haven't been able to start it. Maybe someday. It's still too painful. I love that man as much as I ever did, I just try not to think about it too deeply for fear I couldn't handle it. I haven't become an alcoholic or drug addict, they haven't hauled me off to an asylum, so I guess I'm doing okay.

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