The kids slept in a bit today, and so did I. My husband awake, already working, and making breakfast.
“I decided to make blueberry muffins this morning!”
He’s the cook in our home. I like to cook, but it doesn’t seem to come naturally, or even with lots of practice, for me. But we’re lucky because he’s a flawless cook. I used to crave eating out, but his meals are so good, I tend to crave certain dishes he makes as much or more than favorite restaurant meals these days.
When we were cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, he asked, “What did you think of the muffins? I think the recipe from the One Girl cookbook recipe is the best.”
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart. Don’t scratch for answers that cannot be given now. The point is to try to live everything. Live the questions for now. Perhaps then, someday far into the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. – Rainer Maria Rilke (German-Language Poet)
When life turns difficult, a common way of trying to get around the pain is to try to think our way out of the situation. The problem with this is that it assumes the process of effectively dealing with emotional upset and spiritual challenges is linear, sort of like a Betty Crocker recipe, in that one step necessarily follows another in order to get the desired outcome. The truth is that the process of inner healing is inherently non-linear and is often contradictory. When things do get better and our inner struggle eases for a while, we often don’t know how or why we feel better, we just do. Have you ever gone to sleep with a problem on your mind and awakened not troubled by it anymore? As the saying goes, “What a difference a day makes!” Nothing about your problem changed, you just went to sleep.
Our mood and therefore our perspective change constantly, and that has much to do with the way we process the problems that come our way. Sometimes we wake up feeling great and ready to face the day’s challenges. On these days, problems that come up don’t bother us too much. We process them easily because we approach them from a positive perspective and keep moving along. The very next day (or even hour), we may feel totally different. The world seems to be spinning in the wrong direction and it seems that everyone is working against us. In addition to affecting the way we handle the daily problems that arise, our moods and our perspective affect the way we handle the big problems in our lives. This is especially true regarding the way we process grief, the pain involved in losing someone or something very important to us. Continue reading “The Irony and Inconsistency of Grief”→
Beyond the veil, a whole new existence awaits you. A dimension that has endless possibilities with no limitations. You are a part of all that is good.
Within this new dimension, you’ll be able to connect to those you’ve loved and have lost, due to physical death. You’ll realize that your family and friends who are in spirit never really left you. All those special people who you thought were gone, are very much a part of you, and you are a part of them. The deep love and appreciation you feel for your loved ones is felt by mere thought. Your connection is endless to all of Gods gifts that you cherished.
Animals are greatly appreciated for their unique wisdom and for their devotion to those they love. They are a part of you, just as you are a part of them. There is no real separation when love
is felt and given from the heart.
The beauty inside us will radiate with joy and pure emotion. We realize that God’s blessings never cease to exist. We feel more alive now than ever before, with no more death or disease to face. Continue reading “Beyond the Veil”→
Those of us in grief counseling find ourselves spending considerable parts of our days with people who are grieving significant losses in their lives in one way or another. Many, if not most, of our clients entered treatment, in large part, due to the fact that they felt so isolated in their grief.
For centuries, ours has been a culture that has not condoned discussion of death, loss or grief. Not so many years ago the dead were brought into the home of the family for a period of time immediately prior to the funeral. In another era, widows were not accepted and were expected to wear only black for the year following the death of their spouses. Not so terribly long ago, the public acknowledgement got even smaller in the form of a black ribbon adorning one’s clothing.
Today, most of the general population is more comfortable if we do not discuss grief or loss at all. This occurs simultaneous with a time in history where people are losing jobs they have held for twenty, thirty, forty years or more, homes are being foreclosed on, the divorce rate remains elevated, the marriage rate declines, and newscasts are full of incidents of mass casualties in our country. Continue reading “A Call to Service”→
No one should walk the road of grief alone. Yet every day, adults and children must cope with the pain of grief by themselves. Alone. Grief can be a very frightening and overwhelming experience filled with an array of emotions and feelings. This article will explore our reactions to grief as well as offer advice for coping with day-to-day struggles.
Grief affects us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Grief is similar to a roller coaster ride in the dark. We never know from one moment to the next which reaction or combination of reactions will overpower us. Following are some of the numerous grief reactions you may experience:
Physical reactions – sighing, shortness of breath, a change in eating habits, weight loss or gain, headaches, loss of energy, apathy, illness, gastrointestinal problems, sleeplessness, crying or uncontrollable sobbing, gut-wrenching pain.
Mental or spiritual reactions – selfishness or egocentric focus, distracted thought patterns, short attention span, auditory/visual hallucinations (we think we hear or see the person who has died), regressed actions (may become childlike or more dependent on others), suicidal thoughts, loss of interest in socializing, over-protection of our children (especially when a child has died), a loss of faith or religious beliefs.
Each person will react to grief and loss differently. Your individual reactions are defined by previous experiences as well as your coping skills. You may feel, at times, as if you are functioning on automatic pilot or are in a daze. Your senses may seem numb. You may cry uncontrollably, be short-tempered, or be unable to cope with simple tasks. There may be occasions when you feel as if your insides have been ripped out. The pain you feel physically and emotionally seems never-ending. You believe you will never be happy again. Your grief may shake the foundation of your religious beliefs. You find yourself playing the “what if?” game and endlessly searching for answers to “why?”
Guilt and anger play a major role in grieving. They are normal, healthy reactions. You may feel guilty for unkind actions or words spoken in haste towards the person who has died. You may regret the opportunities you’ve missed to spend quality time with them before their death. You may be angry due to the circumstances surrounding their death (suicide, homicide, etc.). You may find that you are angry with them for dying and leaving you alone. Discontent within a family during or following the funeral may cause undue emotional stress. Nonetheless, guilt and anger can be the driving force that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and live another day. It is not wrong to feel guilt or anger; however, you do not use them as an excuse to inflict pain on yourself or others.
Grieve in your own way and in your own time. I recommend keeping a journal or diary. Write down your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. This will help you realize that you are progressing in your grief. Compose letters to your loved one or list simple accomplishments you’ve mastered; such as, doing chores around the house, participating in social activities with friends, or just enjoying the glories of nature. We become so burdened with grief that we forget to celebrate the simple things in life. Laughter is good for healing grief as well. I do not expect you to laugh and reinvest in life and living quickly. This will take time; whatever time you need. Your grief journey may take many months or even years. You will never be the person you were before your grief journey began. I promise you, though, that if you are willing to do what it will take to heal your grief, the pain will subside. You will be able to smile and be happy again. Grief has the power to help you become a more sensitive, loving, and caring person.
Read articles and books on grief. A bereavement support group or speaking with a minister, priest, or rabbi can also be of help. Avoid excessive alcohol or addictive drugs. They may temporarily dull your pain, but they will do nothing to heal your grief. Exercise and eat healthy. If you are having trouble sleeping, drink a glass of warm milk or listen to soothing music.
If you have a special friend who is willing to walk with you through your grief journey hold their hand tightly. They will guide you around the obstacles in your path. They will surround you with love and lift you up when your days are long and lonely. This special friend can reaffirm your simple achievements and acknowledge that you are making progress in healing.
The road to healing grief is filled with many hurdles and detours. Family and friends may find life just as challenging and painful as you. Keep in mind that no two people will deal with feelings and emotions in the same manner. Do not be surprised to find that some of your acquaintances may tire of your seemingly long journey. People expect you to be over it (grief) in a short period of time. Do not plan to have your grief healed by a certain date (i.e., six months, the anniversary of the death, etc.). Take whatever time you need. It is important for you to acknowledge all your feelings. Do not feel ashamed or weak as the result of your emotions or expressions of grief. Seek out someone who will walk with you and guide you through your journey. Take hold of their strong hand and lean on them. Let them help you survive your grief.
Copyright Peggy Sweeney. All rights reserved.
About the Author: Peggy Sweeney is a bereavement educator and the president of The Sweeney Alliance. She has written and taught countless workshops about coping with grief and trauma, including How to Understand Grief Seminars (HUGS), Child Healing After Trauma (CHAT), and the Grieving Behind the Badge program for emergency response professionals. She has reached out to her community through Halo of Love, a support group for bereaved parents, and Comfort and Conversation for bereaved adults and teens. She is the author of numerous award-winning articles and is the editor of three online newsletters: The Road Less Traveled, Bereaved Parents and Grieving Behind the Badge. Peggy is currently a member of the Comfort (TX) Volunteer Fire Department and a former mortician and EMT-B. You may contact Peggy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adults frequently associate grief with the death of someone loved. However, this is not the only reason we grieve. We confront grief whenever we experience a loss or traumatic event: a divorce, retirement, a debilitating illness or injury, addiction, abuse, the aftermath of a fire, flood, or an earthquake. The list of grief-generating experiences is endless. Healing our grief is a life-altering event and a very personal experience.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a world-renowned expert in the field of death and dying, is credited with the development of the five stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Her studies, often thought to define the stages of grief following the death of a family member or friend, actually focused on terminally ill patients. Continue reading “Grief 101”→
Have you lost someone so special you feel you can never be happy again? I ask this question because sooner or later we will all be hit with a loss we think we cannot bear. No one escapes it.
As humans, we wonder if we can ever overcome the pain and loss we feel. We doubt we can go on and find hope again. But we can and these are my suggestions to help.
First, make the decision to live which means you get out of bed every day and put your feet down on the floor. Your life is a gift even if you don’t feel that way right now. Be grateful for your life, even the sad parts, for pain opens the heart more fully. Also, others who love and depend on you need you there physically, emotionally and spiritually. Continue reading “Three Ways to Find Hope After Loss”→