Posts

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There Are Many Kinds of Friends to a Widow

Be a sensitive friend… Understand the new context of your friendship.  Don’t disappear because she isn’t anxious to connect.   Be mindful that you might have to adjust your actions to help her adjust to her changed world.  There’s a different way at looking at almost everything.  It requires a lot of effort to address the new and emotional pain of dealing with loss.

New friends who don’t know your partner.  They help you move on with new interests, new attachments and personal growth.

Couple friends with social history…These folks can be comforting and reassuring.  It can also be hard to watch two people live and grow together in ways you never will.

Married friends who aren’t getting along well.  It’s painful to see their conflict when you experience loss.

Divorced friends who share the sense of loss but who deal with negative dynamics.

Well meaning family solutions:  “Hey Mom, Here’s an idea!  Spend more time with the grandchildren!”  Caring for kids requires an outflow of energy and stamina. Babysitting is work!  Brief visits with children can be good reminders of life worth living.

“If There’s Anything I Can Do…How to Help Someone Who has been Bereaved” by Caroline Doughty, White Ladder Press, Britain, 2007  (insight and suggestions for helping widows with young children)

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Resting vs. Stuck

There are times when resting is healing.  There are times when resting becomes stuck.

Stuck is a control issue.  Stress causes a sense of powerlessness so our minds go into a heavy-duty control mode.  Holding tight to what is known feels safer.  To let go might feel like powerless chaos.  Our minds trick us into thinking that by holding on, we are in control of something we cannot control-the loss of a loved one. It takes conscious choice in dealing with reality.  Control is actually letting go.

Self awareness:

Has self preservation turned into self-absorption?

Who am I really?  Am I extremely intolerant of others response to me?

Do I demand sympathy? Do I have difficulty with anything new?

St Francis prayer:  “Accept the things you cannot change and have the courage to change the things you can.”

“If There’s Anything I Can Do…How to Help Someone who has been Bereaved” by Caroline Doughty, White Ladder Press, Britain, 2007 (insight and suggestions for helping widows with young children)

“The Art of Condolence, what to write, what to say, what to do at a time of loss” by Leonard Zunin, MD and Hilary Stanton Zunin, Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.

“When a Spouse Dies, What I didn’t Know about helping myself and others through grief,” by Barbara R Wheeler, DSW, Plain Sight Publishing, 2012.

“Transitions, Making sense of life’s changes” by William Bridges, Lifelong books, 2004.

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Awareness of the Moments of Grief

There is a succession of stages yet each experience has its own internal logic.  Each personal works their way through these tasks in their own way in their own time.  They often ebb and flow, revisit

There are five primary goals or tasks in the grief process that flows from denial to being calm and settled.

Accepting the finality of the loss.  Buried in this stage is our sense of safety and survival. Loss feels like fear.  It looks like brain fog: the inability to think well and focus attention.  It’s the sense, “I am totally alone.  It’s all up to me.”

Accepting the painful thoughts, feelings and behaviors is the process of mourning.   Grief is a time when every aspect of the relationship with a loved one is felt, examined and reexamined including experiences, hopes, feelings, thoughts and memories. It’s the realization of what was and what will be no more.

Reclaiming and redirecting the love energy once focused on the lost relationship.  It means letting go.  This energy is needed to again find a place in the world and to develop new relationships.

Reviewing and crystallizing memories of the deceased.  The dam of memories breaks and the mind searches the past to make sense of the experience.  Initially the mind buffers itself with positive images to cushion feelings of regret, guilt and anger at a time when one has little ability to cope.  In the natural progression of healing, this review eventually becomes more realistic and balanced, containing both positive and negative recollections.  Gradually, an image of life with the deceased is created.

Selecting memories to incorporate in the fabric of life going forward.  Through the process of remembering, replaying and integrating, one becomes her next self by adapting and changing in behavior, self-perception and expectations.  The goal is adapting to an accepted changed state:  “This is who I am now.”Healing is hampered by resisting the process and suppressing natural expression as we try hard to be brave and courageous as we endure.  We want to hurry it along so we aren’t a burden or a drag.

Healing is hampered by resisting the process and suppressing natural expression as we try hard to be brave and courageous as we endure.  We want to hurry it along so we aren’t a burden or a drag.It’s realizing that it’s best to go with the flow.

It’s realizing that it’s best to go with the flow.Healing is done with the ability to remember, without anguish, the joy and disappoints of the lost relationship, a wholehearted return to regular activities and energy into a new life.  One moves from getting through the day” to a turn in the road where laughter returns and perspective includes others.  It’s the return of the ability to look forward to life ahead.

Healing is done with the ability to remember, without anguish, the joy and disappoints of the lost relationship, a wholehearted return to regular activities and energy into a new life.  One moves from getting through the day” to a turn in the road where laughter returns and perspective includes others.  It’s the return of the ability to look forward to life ahead.   Grief is a testing that can cultivate a sense of self-sufficiency, an increase in self-trust and worth, a show of courage and grit that prepares us for independent life ahead.

Grief is a testing that can cultivate a sense of self-sufficiency, an increase in self-trust and worth, a show of courage and grit that prepares us for independent life ahead.

“The Art of Condolence, what to write, what to say, what to do at a time of loss” by Leonard Zunin, MD and Hilary Stanton Zunin, Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.

“When a Spouse Dies, What I didn’t Know about helping myself and others through grief,” by Barbara R Wheeler, DSW, Plain Sight Publishing, 2012.

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Beginnings, Endings, Loss

As social beings, our very existence depends on attachment to others. Every human relationship is destined to end in loss. Entrances and exits are an integral part of life. School friends move away. Colleagues come and go. Family and friends relocate from our immediate world. Even pets, large and small are a testing of these principles.

Endings are the price paid for having beginnings. Except for the loss of one’s own life, the death of a loved one is the ultimate loss. Growth and maturity happens as we learn from each experience of attachment and loss.

Grief is the price we pay for love” Queen Elizabeth II (2001)

“The Art of Condolence, what to write, what to say, what to do at a time of loss” by Leonard Zunin, MD and Hilary Stanton Zunin, Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.