Emotions Behind Grief

Understanding the emotions behind grief helps you see what lies ahead

The initial personal work that needs attention

The loss of a life partner is a natural stage of life yet it ranks #1 on the scale of stress.  It’s the cost of having this deep relationship.  I offer you a collection of core ideas gleaned from good sources for your immediate use. 

Since “brain fog” is a common characteristic in the early stages of loss, I’ve selected my choice of basic ideas.  You might not have the mental energy to work your way through an entire publication to discern useful ideas.  The objective is to reassure you that you are working through a common experience in your own unique way.

And so it has happened and emotions kick into high gear.  Emotions might follow a flow: shock, numbness and disbelief; experiencing the pain; acceptance.

Shock, numbness and disbelief

Mind and spirit go into shock with a severe emotional jolt.  Emily Dickinson called it, “the hour of lead”.

The first and natural response is to doubt or deny.  It’s an unconscious way of preventing emotional overload.  It helps to face the loss bit by bit as one gathers inner resources and external supports.

Numbness is also a buffer that makes it possible to do what must be done in the immediate aftermath of a personal loss:  make arrangements, take care of daily needs, attending to others.  This feeling of unreal and emotional distance is a temporary support.  Periods of clarity can weave with the inability to think, restlessness and confusion as the reality sinks it.  It’s the waffling between “I’m OK, I’m not OK” until the numbness is replaced by the strong presence of emotion.

Experience the pain.  Numbness gives way to feeling.  When grief reaches the heart, the real pain begins.  The reality of loss begins a reminder of a time that once was. Four strong emotions intertwine in endless and often troubling patterns…fears, sadness, anger and guilt.  Emotions serve their purpose and subside in time.

  • Fears come and go without warning and surface without predictability.  Fear of being alone is what motivates relationships with others.
  • Sadness is often the consuming emptiness.  Hopelessness and helplessness spill forth at unexpected times.  Enjoyment is lost, then a fleeting sensation.  Tears, though often embarrassing, are part of the healing process. Sadness redefines priorities, goals and sense of purpose.
  • Anger may be rational and focused or irrational and broad.  Feelings of irritability, bitterness, hostility and aggression are often so surprising that mourners may fear themselves on the verge of a breakdown.  Powerful energies of stress are released when issues reach a point of resolve.
  • Guilt, anger turned toward ourselves, can be disabling.  It erodes self-esteem and evokes self-condemnation.  If not resolved, the healing cannot be complete.  Surprisingly, guilt is a natural response when one first begins to feel happy again after a long path of grieving.

Amidst all the emotional turmoil, physical and intellectual stress can add layers of complications and distractions.  There are physical complaints, emotional swings, thinking disturbances and changes in behavior. 

Sleep disturbance, excess energy/lethargy, overeating/lack of appetite, confused thinking, changed behavior…Threads of stress weave together to form the fabric of mourning.


“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.

Find other selections on MovingForward.pro/Education under grieving.  There are some selections directed towards family and friends on how to support.  You can do this.


When Women Help Women

7 things happen when women connect

  1. It removes stress.  Talk makes things better.  You organize your mind so that a flow of specific words come out.  Someone else is aware when you struggle.  You are not alone.
  2. Accountability happens.  You hear yourself talk.  An action path starts to appear. It’s declared.  AND she/they (your tribe) wants to know are you walking it.
  3. Speak the truth. Hear the truth.  Women are lovingly brutal.  Don’t jive the girlfriends.
  4. It is women’s nature to nurture.  Allow it to happen to you.
  5. Build your support system.  Show up for your friends. Help them do their inner work as you do yours.
  6. Life’s longevity is going need infrastructure.  It’s your busy family on their own paths.   It’s longtime friends and new friends who keep life together and interesting. Make room for an expanding life infrastructure of people. 
  7. Purposefulness   It’s necessary for your wellbeing.  It’s needed to advance the world.  Let’s not mimic the old Miss America’s goal of “world peace”.  Let’s get out there and make our community a better place.  Be part of a bigger world.  Talk is cheap.  Action is priceless!

Teamwork is dream work!  Have a dream.  Share a dream.

The work of Financial Transitionist is to makes life transitions less stressful, more productive with the goal of a more confident outcome. This experience provides a process and tools to help structure ideas and decisions for a strong future. 

Website by: WebsiteSuccessExpert.com [nolink]

How to Find Your Community?

Widowhood..it’s a natural stage of life for women.  It’s estimated that easily 70% of Boomer women will outlive their partners. We intellectually and academically know this but it’s a major life change for which we cannot prepare.  It’s a process that is lived.

How do we help each other go through widowhood in a healthy way?    There is a reordering that happens of every facet of life.  It’s living life with a new identity after partnership. 

Today’s message is about finding resources from knowledgeable sources.  The best resource:  other widows who are further down the path.  Communities offer early grief support through the loving efforts of churches, clinics, social services.  When widows outgrow that initial stage of deep grief they need to move from the intensity of the group and the inflow of new widows. 

They look to find their way with the dull roar of their heart and the multitude of emotional, social and practical needs of this new life.  And that’s where community efforts stop.  Friends, family go back to their own, busy lives.  Community focuses on those with the greatest needs.  Maybe a few women find each other.

Modern Widows Club is a national non-profit organization started in 2011 by Carolyn Moor. (See ModernWidowsClub.com) and Facebook page:  Modern Widows Club.  It is an internet-based program supported by local chapters.  Currently (2019) there are 22 chapters in the US.  And we’d like to have a chapter in Rochester, NY.  Our introductory effort is explained on MovingForward.pro and Facebook page:  Moving Forward for Widows

How Does Resilience Work?

How Does Resilience Work…As presented by Diane Coutu, Harvard Business Review

What is the quality of resilience that carries people through life?  Why do some people buckle under pressure and what makes others bend and ultimately bounce back?

Resilient people possess three defining characteristics:

They coolly accept the harsh realities facing them. Facing down reality is taking a sober, down-to-earth view of the reality of your situation. It’s often gruelling and emotional work.  You prepare yourself to act in ways that enable you to endure.

Find meaning and purpose is the connector between your present-day ordeal and fuller, future life. Resist the impulse to sink into the circumstance.  A commitment to something bigger than yourself will make the present manageable and removing the sense that the present is overwhelming. Strong values and beliefs are the steel that builds your bridges. These ideas give direction, keep the focus and fuel the next steps.   Again, this is more introspective, emotional and maybe gruelling work.

Resilient people have an ability to improvise, making do with whatever is at hand. 

The wisdom from many sources, “Just begin”.  It’s adjusting your actions until they take root. The roots come from the strength of your values and beliefs.  Having a clear and strong sense of you is the compass.

Resilience is a way of facing and understanding the world, that is deeply etched into a person’s mind and soul.   Resilient people face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship and improvise solutions from thin error. The choice:  resilience or despair.

Wisters:  You can learn to be resilient.  You can strengthen your resilience.  You don’t have to do this alone.  A core purpose of Moving Forward / Modern Widows Club is to help with skills and ideas, building your resilience.  Let us work together.  “Moving Forward while reaching back.”

See other Wister Talks on the 10 factors of Resilience by Souhtwick and Charney.  This book is among Carolyn Moor’s favorite because the ideas are evidence-based and powerful.  Eight factors need to be addressed within you.  Two factors require others.  We are among your others.  More to come.

What is a Wister?

Widowhood is a natural stage of life for women.

The descriptor is “widow”. It evokes the sadness and confusion of losing one’s partner and the description lasts her lifetime. We are thankful that the cultural customs of a prolonged wardrobe of black is not a requirement.  (It has become a choice if you live in NYC!  A little levity for the topic!)

We know that women-helping-women, widow-mentoring-widow is an effective way, in fact, a necessary tool to help women build resilience and to grow back into her own life.

They are a community who understands in a way that the outsiders only observe and guess.  They need to see themselves in a new light with new potential.  So they need a new term within their circle.   We look for a gentler, more friendly, dare we say, more fun word that helps them take the challenge together over time.   

Women helping women….There are studies that indicate it reduces stress. Good things happen.  Nurturing, role modeling, energy increases. Accountability heightens. Purposefulness can be set into motion.  It’s all good and it can happen among the Wisters.  Become one who is moving forward while giving back.  It can become a lifetime community of caring and good work.

Modern Widows Club (MWC) is the heart of the wisterhood. Carolyn Moor, founder of the wisterhood shares ideas in her monthly discussions.  Our local group, Moving Forward, prelude to a MWC chapter meets monthly to process ideas of possibilities. Visit MovingForward.pro as in proactive!  progress! for our local work.  Visit ModernWidowsClub.com and Modern Widows Club on Facebook for a larger community.

Website by: WebsiteSuccessExpert.com [nolink]