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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

By Pete Reinl, Director of Grief Support Services, Church and Chapel Funeral Homes

414-651-2737    petereinl@churchandchapel.us    www.churchandchapel.com

 

I resolve to…

  • Grieve as much and for as long as I need to, and I will not let others put a time table on my grief.
  • Mourn this loss by fully experiencing my feelings and expressing them in healthy and appropriate ways with trusted others.
  • Ignore those who try to tell me what I should or should not be feeling, and how I should and should not be behaving.
  • Cry if I need to and/or want to, whenever and wherever I feel like crying. I will not stuff the tears of my grief.
  • Voice my loved one’s name, sharing their stories with friends, family members and others.
  • Lower my expectations of others realizing not everyone knows how I feel, especially those who have not lost someone to death. I will express my needs to others so they don’t have to guess what my needs might be.
  • Stop blaming myself for my loved one’s death, and remind myself, when feelings of guilt are overwhelming, that this is a normal part of the grief process and it will pass.
  • Seek out a support group, other resources or professional help and let go of feeling ashamed or weak in doing so. 
  • Commune with my loved one as I want, in ways that feel comfortable.

 

I further resolve to…

  • Eat, sleep and exercise every day in order to give my body the strength it will need to help me walk this journey.
  • Remind myself that loss of memory, feelings of disorientation, lack of energy, and a sense of vulnerability are all normal parts of the grief process.
  • Heal, even though it may take a long time and a lot of intentional grief work.
  • Stop trying to recreate life as it was before this loss and move to an acceptance that life as I’ve known it will never be the same again, nor will I ever be the same again.
  • Realize that I will not always make steady progress and when I find myself slipping back into the old moods of despair and depression I’ll remember this is also a very normal part of the grief process.
  • Be happy about something for some part of every day, knowing that at first, I may have to force myself and it may last only a moment.
  • Reach out to help someone else, knowing that helping others will help me to get through my grief.
  • Opt for life, knowing that this is what my loved one would want me to do.

Adapted from the Brooksville Spring Hill, FL , TCF Newsletter

 

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English: 'A pain stabbed my heart as it did ev...

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Speaking about the death of the son of one of the packer’s coaches, many newscasters this week asked the same question, “What should you say when someone loses a loved one, especially a child?”. Our first instinct is to say “I’m sorry”, but that feels inadequate. Then our next instinct is to not say anything at all. So, what should you say?

Say, “I’m thinking of you”, “I’m not sure what to say, but you are in my thoughts”, “I’m here to listen”, “I’m here for you and your family. How can I help?”, “Your loved one was very special and will be missed greatly”, “I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I’m here to support you anyway I can.”
And you don’t even need to say anything. Give a hug. Drop off a meal. As silly as it sounds, dropping off toilet paper, paper plates, kleenex, or household supplies can be incredibly helpful since the family will be busy with company and planning and may not get out of the house for these errands. Take initiative and complete a task, such as shoveling, without being asked. Most people who are grieving are not able to identify what they need help with as thier loss is so overwhelming. By taking initiative and just doing it, it can be a weight off the bereaved.
Just listen and be there. We often overlook how healing our presence can be, even if we are sitting in silence. Really listen. Don’t try to fix it or take away the pain–we can’t do that. But by listening we are helping them start to heal. Share memories of their loved one. Share how that person impacted your life.
And most importantly, know that the pain will not go away after the funeral or in a couple weeks. Continue to be there for them. Check in periodically and let them know you are still there for support.

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Last week, I came home from working out with the personal trainer, and I bawled my eyes out. You see, I’d been working with a really great gal who pushed me hard and “got” my challenges and gave me inspiration and goals to work towards. And when I went to my session, I found out she no longer worked there. And that I would have a new trainer, who I’d never met before. 

The week before that, my parents moved from my childhood home, and my cat (who lived with them) had to be put to sleep. I spent a whole weekend holding back tears (and letting them out) and feeling a little bit empty. 

I’ve been a little bit crabby for about a month now. I mean, who gets so upset about their trainer getting a new job? 

Sometimes all of the little losses in our lives add up, making it hard to focus, and function at a high capacity. Things change, like not knowing my parents’ address by heart, knowing that this is their home, not mine, and not having my Ginger-cat ignore me as soon as I step foot in the door. And when all of those losses piled up, a seemingly insignificant loss (my trainer leaving) put me over the edge. 

There is a quote, and I have no idea who it’s by, that goes: 

Be kinder than necessary

Everyone you meet

Is fighting some kind of battle. 

In my own defense, I ask you to remember this when you’re interacting with others. We have no idea what’s going on in other people’s lives, and what might seem like “nothing” could actually be the last straw in a series of tiny losses. And don’t ignore the little losses in your life – they might catch up to you at the gym!

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Country singer Sara Evans performs to a capaci...

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Sometimes a song just says it better. Sara Evans captures the healing steps after a breakup perfectly in her song “A Little Bit Stronger”. I think the first two paragraphs of the lyrics could be describing any type of loss. At times we miss these small steps toward healing because we are still engrossed in the intense pain, but like the song says “even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger”. Acknowledge yourself for all the small ways in which you have gotten a little bit stronger since your loss, whether it’s a breakup or a death of a loved one.

 

A Little Bit Stronger lyrics
Songwriters: Barker Aaron Gayle; Harbin Ronald Steven;

Sung by: Sara Evans

Woke up late today and I still feel the sting of the pain
But I brushed my teeth anyway
I got dressed through the mess and put a smile on my face
I got a little bit stronger

Riding in the car to work and I’m trying to ignore the hurt
So I turned on the radio, stupid song made me think of you
I listened to it for minute but I changed it
I’m getting a little bit stronger, just a little bit stronger

And I’m done hoping that we could work it out
I’m done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around
And, oh, I’m done thinking that you could ever change

I know my heart will never be the same
But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay
Even on my weakest days
I get a little bit stronger

Doesn’t happen overnight but you turn around
And a month’s gone by and you realize you haven’t cried
I’m not giving you a hour or a second or another minute longer
I’m busy getting stronger

 

And I’m done hoping that we can work it out
I’m done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around
And, oh, I’m done thinking, that you could ever change

I know my heart will never be the same
But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay
Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger
I get a little bit stronger

Getting along without you, baby
I’m better off without you, baby
How does it feel without me, baby?
I’m getting stronger without you, baby

And I’m done hoping we could work it out
I’m done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around
And, oh, I’m done thinking that you could ever change

I know my heart will never be the same
But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay
Even on my weakest days
I get a little bit stronger

I get a little bit stronger
Just a little bit stronger
A little bit, a little bit, a little bit stronger
I get a little bit stronger

 

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Closure

I casually turned my TV on this morning while getting my dog some food and was stopped in my tracks. I never thought I would see this day—Osama Bin Laden Dead. It was uplifting to see America celebrating in the streets and chants of patriotic pride. I was captivated by the interviews of people sharing stories of the loved ones and friends who died on 9/11. It was clear that President Obama’s message to the American people was right when he said last night: “And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.” 

In addition to “justice”, the other word I kept hearing this morning was “closure”. News broadcasters kept stating that the family and friends of the 3,000 people lost in 9/11 would finally have closure. What does that mean? Does grief resolve with this type of closure?  

For the grievers left behind after any tragedy, there is a deep desire to have the answers to the questions “Who did this?” and “Why?” They also typically have a deep desire to see the responsible party have to pay in some way—jail, prison, death, etc. There is often a belief that once this justice is complete and they have the answers they seek, that it will somehow make the pain of their loss lessen and they will be able to move on with their lives.  

However, most grievers find that once this moment comes, it does not bring the emotional end to the grief process they had anticipated. It does bring closure to the emotions attached to those questions—namely anger and our deep desire to see justice. It does however, especially years after the loss, intensify our grief because we are suddenly back at that moment, reliving that experience and re-grieving our loss (or giving ourselves to grief those heavy emotions we have avoided because we have been so consumed with anger and involved in the pursuit of justice). We have closed one aspect of the grief process and reopened the wound of grief again. If people have been working on their grief, it will not be of the same intensity as it was those years ago.  

For example, I did not know anyone personally who was involved in the tragedy of 9/11. I, like many Americans, grieved the loss of invinsibility that I had felt our country had and grieved for our national tragedy. This morning, upon seeing the news, I remembered exactly where I was when I heard about the attack and how my day unfolded after that. I cannot imagine what the images and emotions were that the family members and friends of those involved in 9/11 relived or felt. President Obama reflected it well when he said last night during his speech: “And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.” Let’s remember that although they have been grieving for 9 years, these families will still continue to grieve. Not at the same intensity as before, but there is still a hole in their lives.

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USA flag at half-mast during Memorial Day. The...

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Memorial Day is fast approaching, and every year it brings about a little bit of melancholy for me. My Grandma owned Memorial Day. More so than any other holiday, I remember her gearing up for the celebration – helping find someone to read off the roll-call of soldiers buried in the tiny rural cemetery, making sure there were exactly the right number of flags and flowers to decorate each grave, recruiting the church ladies to bake sweet treats for the people to enjoy after the march. And on the actual day, my grandma would round up every kid in the church and somehow get them lined up, shortest to tallest, stop traffic on a busy county highway, and parade everyone over to the cemetery to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers. 

It seems like a different world. Most people I know take Memorial Day as a long weekend meant to kick off the summer – a reason for Sunday Fun-day and no work on Monday. But I have only missed one Memorial Day service in my life (the year I moved toArizona) and it’s an important tradition for me to keep. 

The year my Grandma died, she was at a hospice in-patient facility on Memorial Day. She had painstakingly hand-written the map of the graves in the cemetery and asked (told?) my mom to take over he duties. That was a hard year, but she was so proud when we visited afterward and reported our success. The next year, after she was gone, I cried through the entire service. 

That was eight years ago. This year my mom asked me if I would read the roll-call of soldiers in front of the church. I remember as a kid wishing and hoping I could someday read the roll. So now, given the opportunity, I feel sad. I wish Grandma was there to see me and hear my practiced voice read each name clearly and without mistake (I hope!) She would be proud that we still place importance on this day. She would have never guessed though, that now, for me, Memorial Day is about her.

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The G Force roller coaster

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I often get asked—which loss is worse: one that you know is coming due to an illness or a sudden unexpected loss? The truth is that they are both difficult losses and one is not easier to deal with than the other. 

Even when dealing with an illness for a long time, the death still comes as a shock because you can never fully imagine what life is going to be like without that person. One can not fully anticipate and plan for all of the ways in which their life is going to change without them. And if you were the caregiver you now have a ton of time on your hands and you may have lost your purpose, which was to care for your loved one. Lastly, many people have an expectation that they will have deep profound conversations with their loved one prior to their death, just like they do in the movies, but this doesn’t happen the majority of the time. This leaves unsaid communications. 

When a loss is sudden, the death is a shock and life changes instantaneously, in ways you may never have thought about before. There are probably many things that have been left unsaid because you thought you had time to get closure on those topics. 

The two losses that I think are more difficult to grieve are a death by suicide or homicide because both of these losses leave many unanswered questions and can bring about embarrassment or shame, which makes them more difficult to talk about. It can be helpful to find a support group for these specific losses so that you know you are not alone and others can relate to your unique experiences of grief. 

For all others, the feelings of loss are similar and intense. Grief feels like a roller coaster. It is helpful to talk about your feelings in order to release the intensity of them. If you feel that you can’t talk about them, write about them. Find support either through close friends and relatives or through a support group. Grief can make you feel as if you are going crazy and sometimes your friends and family stop wanting to hear about your grief. A support group can let you know that you are not crazy and that you are not alone. Read about grief so that you gain tips from others who have gone before you on how to cope with your loss. And remember that grief takes a lot of energy and is very stressful. Take good care of yourself—easier said that done, I know, but well worth the effort.

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