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Posts Tagged ‘Grief’

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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All in a day

I started this day by enjoying breakfast with Milwaukee’s health care heroes, including one very special individual from my own organization. This event concluded with recognition of the first responders, who heroically and selflessly ran into the Sikh Temple and Azana Spa when anyone else’s instinct would be to run out. 

 
When I got back to work, I began posting the smiling photos of our celebration on Facebook. In moments, I noticed a string of comments, sympathetic comments directed to a school in Connecticut. As the day progressed, word spread through our office, and through my social networks. I navigated from CNN to MSNBC to ABC News obsessively in my spare moments. 
 
My instinct was to blame gun control, inadequate mental health care, politics and violence on the media. But if anyone could have known how to stop this, they would have done everything in their power. There is no fault. No blame on anyone but the one reporters are calling the “damaged soul.”
 
My connection to the victims of the local shootings or today’s tragedy is not immediate. The pit in my stomach still won’t go away. Fear is simmering below the surface. I grieve the loss of a seemingly more simple world, where this type of violence was not a regular occurrence, where schools, places of worship, movie theaters and spas were safe. The unanswerable questions plague my mind and rest heavily on my heart.
 
My work family provides support related to grief and loss. But tonight, for the first time, I’m not sure that our experts and experience are enough. I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that our nation and the world have changed. That there is no safe place and no logic to be applied to every day situations. Cancer and dementia and heart disease are terrible, but this is completely different. This is evil inflicted on purpose. This changes our world. There is nothing natural about this. And I’m not sure there is a natural process for healing these hurts, these losses. 
 
Tonight, the smiles and celebration of this morning seem far away. Tonight I feel heavy. There are heroes in every community, on every block and around every corner. What comes most naturally to many people is helping, comforting, caring for others. Yet the damage inflicted by someone who has suffered couldn’t be stopped, no many how many heroes were in that school. Tonight I send my prayers to the universe: bring healing and peace to those who’ve lost, bring health and help to those who feel violence is the only answer, bring us all the strength to figure out what has gone wrong, and change this world. I wish for a safe haven…for everyone.

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

My mom, who died 19 years ago, was one of 16 children.  Being one of the oldest she found herself cooking in the kitchen a lot. She cooked for 18 people. Imagine the amount of food she needed to help prepare three times a day.  She was trained to cook in large quantities. I’m one of five children.  Now, imagine the ‘spreads’ mom prepared for us – we had enough leftovers each meal to feed our neighborhood. No matter how hard she tried to keep the amount of food realistic for our family, it just never happened. We would’ve been awfully hungry if we didn’t acquire a taste for leftovers (which I thankfully still have to this day). My mom was quite the cook and loved being in the kitchen. I’ve picked up on her tendency in my cooking to over-do quantity – spaghetti is the worst (mounds of noodles and not enough sauce) – but have also enjoyed inheriting her love of being in the kitchen and cooking.

Oh my, stories and storytelling and story listening…I’m incredibly honored when someone who is grieving chooses to share with me a story about their loved one or a story about their journey of grief.  I believe we’re on ‘sacred ground’ when someone trusts us enough to share such stories. Storytelling is so very important throughout our entire lives, but even more so when we are grieving.

Stories hold such power for both the teller and the listener. In telling their story bereaved people pay honor and respect to their loved ones.  In a sense it is one way of keeping their loved one’s spirit alive. I can’t tell you how often I hear from the bereaved how satisfying it is for them to be able to voice their loved one’s name to others. Equally gratifying is hearing their loved one’s name from someone else telling a story about them. To know their loved one touched others and made an impact in another person’s life can be incredibly moving to a bereaved person. Hearing their name and telling stories help the bereaved shift from a relationship of physical presence with their loved one to a relationship of memory and spirit presence.

In addition, by telling their story the bereaved mark the significance of their loss and want the listener to acknowledge that significance as well. “I want you to know this person in my life…I want you to know how much this person meant to me…And, I want you to know just how significant their passing is to me.”  Often bereaved people find themselves telling their story over and over and over again. This repeating of their story is so important and so natural and so normal. Indeed, it’s in the retelling of their story that the story itself loses its power and gains deeper understanding.  Newly bereaved find themselves tearing-up just at the thought of telling their story and not being able to tell it fully.  While perhaps later – months later – they notice a lump in their throat and tears being shed in telling their story, but they can fully share the entire story. Still later, not only can they tell their story with less detail and fewer tears, but will add to the story more about themselves and how life has changed for them. And even further in their journey of grief the story is yet shorter and filled with more glimpses of how they are re-entering life again.

Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening writes this about storytelling and story-listening:

Stories are like little time capsules. They carry pieces of truth and meaning over time…It is the sweat and tears of the telling that bring the meaning out of its sleep as if no time has passed. It is the telling that heals…

Often we repeat stories, not because we are forgetful or indulgent, but because there is too much meaning to digest in one expression. So we keep sharing the story that presses on our heart until we understand it all…

The truth is that though we think we know what we are about to say, the story tells us and saves us, in the same mysterious way that breathing is always the same but different.

So, what’s in a story? Well, most everything that’s important. Go ahead, tell the story – tell your story – tell their story. And, please, won’t you please just listen and be fully present and be patient as they share glimpses of their heart, their love, and their lives with you.

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We give our sincerest thanks to guest blogger Lisa Thompson, who shared this blog from the one-year anniversary of her father’s death. Lisa has some wonderful ideas for sharing your love before it’s too late…read on to find out more.

One year ago today my dad died.

I sat next to him while he laid in bed and took his last breath.

I can remember that moment like it was yesterday.  After realizing his body had finally given up and he was gone, I stood up and walked away toward one of the walls in his relatively small room where the close family members and friends had all gathered.

I had what I can only describe as some sort of weird out of body experience where the entire world just disappeared.  The next thing I remember is hearing this awful, loud, mournful crying.  It took me several moments to realize that the crying I was hearing was coming from me.

It was a sound I had never heard come out of my own mouth before.  I think it was a huge emotional release of some sort – after all those months of losing my dad slowly, of knowing it was just a matter of time before I lost him completely.
To read the entire blog, see photos and video and get Lisa’s DVD template, visit her site: http://blog.portraitartbylisamarie.com/2012/07/one-year-ago-today-my-dad-died-what-im-going-to-do-today/

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We thank Pete Reinl, Director of Grief Support Services, Church and Chapel Funeral Homes for his monthly contributions to the Grief Resource Center blog.

When a mother bird nudges her baby out of the nest, is she giving up or letting go?

When a tree loses its leaves in the autumn, is it giving up or letting go?

When a caterpillar decides to enter a cocoon – its chrysalis, is it giving up or letting go?

When a flower unveils its petals after days of being a bud, is it giving up or letting go?

When a woman who has treated her brain tumor for over two years decides ‘that’s enough’ and reaches out to hospice, is she giving up or letting go?

When someone decides he needs space and distance from his family of origin for a while, perhaps years, is he giving up or letting go?

When someone who struggles with addiction finally chooses to acknowledge the addiction and accepts needing a recovering program, is he giving up or letting go?

When a grieving person chooses to share her loved one’s belongings, is she giving up or letting go?

When life looks consistently bleak, every day such a struggle, each dominated by depression and he at last notices and chooses to get help, is he giving up or letting go?

What a tension and sometimes a fine line this question of ‘giving up or letting go’. There is clearly a difference between them both in attitude and in motivation, albeit subtle at times. Many, many years ago, shortly after being released from inpatient treatment for alcoholism and attending AA, my mom shared with me a reflection regarding ‘giving up or letting go’. Through the years I’ve posted this reflection in my offices and often find myself reading it. I share it with you now because it has helped me gain perspective many times, and, because, for most of us, a very significant part of our journey of grief involves, dare I say demands, our ‘letting go’ on many different levels. There is no ‘healing’ and/or reconciling our grief in giving up, only in letting go. There can be no ‘transformation’ in giving up, only in letting go. We’ll never experience fully living again in giving up, only in letting go. Although you may not be at a place of ‘letting go’ yet, or these words might not express your experience, may this reflection cause you to take pause, if only for a moment, to reflect upon the difference between giving up and letting go in you and how both are expressed in / through you. May it serve you as well as it has served me.

Giving up implies a struggle…Letting go implies a partnership.

Giving up dreads the future…Letting go looks forward to the future.

Giving up lives out of fear…Letting go lives out of grace and trust.

Giving up is defeat…Letting go is a victory.

Giving up is unwillingly yielding to forces beyond oneself…Letting go is taking control by choosing to yield to forces beyond oneself.

Giving up believes that God and the Universe are to be feared…Letting go trusts in the goodness and love of God and the Universe.

 

 

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Round Mountain Wild Fire, Colorado

Round Mountain Wild Fire, Colorado (Photo credit: Striking Photography by Bo ( Swamped))

This morning as I was listening to the news as I got ready for work, I was drawn out to the living room by a desperate and shaken voice. It was a woman from Colorado who had been required to leave her home with only a few minutes’ notice because of the wild fires. She told the reporter that she’d grabbed a few pieces of clothing, photos and her cats before fleeing. Her parting words were, “I don’t want to leave my home.”

Weather and natural disasters often cause losses that are difficult to deal with. We hear about the fatalities and secondarily about the displaced people who lose their homes. To me, home truly is where the heart is. My home is my center, my place of balance, safety, privacy, freedom of choice – all things I value highly. To imagine losing this place, with no notice, no opportunity to ingrain it in my memory, no chance to pack or sort or identify the important things versus the unimportant – it would be terrible.

Compounded by fear, uncertainty and emotion, the loss of a home is significant. It deserves attention and time to grieve. At Horizon recently, we’ve been discussing the idea of “home” a lot. What makes a home, what people (our patients, volunteers and staff) value in a home, how to find out what home means to others. I feel personally that the essence of home, no matter who you are, is security.

I send my thoughts to those who are suffering through the fires, and wish for them some sense of security, despite being forced from their physical homes.

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We welcome back Pete Reinl, Director of Grief Support Services for Church and Chapel Funeral Homes as our guest blooger. Please enjoy Pete’s thoughts on surrendering to grief.

“You don’t heal from the loss of a loved one because time passes;

you heal because of what you do with the time”. 

– Carol Crandall

 

Healing doesn’t ‘just happen’ after the death of a loved one. And, quite frankly, “Time heals all wounds” is a myth ~ an illusion at best. Healing doesn’t wait on time; healing waits on our ‘welcome’ ~ our intention. Therein dwells the hard grief-work of surrender, acceptance and integration. As each person is unique, this work will be done in one’s own time, on one’s own personal journey, in one’s individual way, a step at a time. It’s only in doing this important work that eventually one can fully live again in new and changed ways. Here’s an example.

Gregory, whose wife Marie died a year and a half ago from a tragic accident, has been very active in engaging and facing his grief and assisting his teenage son in doing the same. For me, Gregory has been an inspiring example that healing can only happen when one finds the courage to move toward their grief rather than ignoring, denying or moving away from their grief. Gregory would be the first to tell you that he is not done grieving or healing, and perhaps may never be. But, as you read the e-mail below from Gregory, those of us who are grieving can take heart in knowing that authentic healing can happen if we are willing to do the hard grief-work of surrender, acceptance and integration – bit by bit, one step at a time, in our own way, choosing to fully live again. Thank you Gregory!

From: GREGORY
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:21 AM
To: Undisclosed

Subject: Time to Let Go

 

Hello All,

It’s been over a year and a half now since Marie died.  I’ve had many ups and downs through my journey with grief.  I’ve now come to the crossroads that in order to continue my healing I need to start separating myself from Marie’s physical presence.  I treasure all the great times we had together and the wonderful memories of our life and raising Robert through the years.  But all the physical things around the house bring back too much pain.

In a moment of weakness I received a flyer for a neighborhood rummage sale last Sunday.  Marie organized the sale every year.  She loved doing it (I did not).  But Grandma offered to tend the sale so I thought why not – I’ll participate.  It’s been a whirlwind of gathering all “Marie’s stuff” together for the sale over the past 3 days.  Robert, our son, has been gathering his “little boy” toys, shirts/pants and grade school reading books as well.  We have a lot available including holiday decorations, scrapbooking, stationary, candles, kitchen items, cloths and size 8 shoes.

Stop by the one and only rummage sale I will ever do.  Our Subdivision Rummage Sale runs this Friday and Saturday 9:00 – 4:00.  Grandma will be helping out and Robert on Saturday.  Tell a friend or two as Marie had a lot of neat items.

Here’s to you Dear,

Gregory

PS: Any money raised will go to Healing Hearts of Waukesha County, the grief support group that’s helping Robert and I live life again.

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