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Intangible Gifts

November 29th, 2015 by judytalks

Free gifts Are Especially Nice At Christmas

The brain-wracking task of what to get people at Christmas puts everyone in a bad mood.

Something practical or something pretty. What did they get last year? How about a gift card?

Maybe a fantastic dinner and a show.

There’s a way out of this dilemma.

There are some gifts that can be given any time for any reason. They’re free and are generally appreciated by everyone who receives them. They are the intangible gifts, the giving of those things that have no price tag, and can be given anytime.

These gifts are appreciated whenever they are given, but are especially nice to give to someone who is grieving and in deep need of heartfelt and loving consideration.

Holidays aren’t happy, exciting affairs when you’re mourning. There’s no feeling of joy, no urge to celebrate with friends or family. There’s often lingering pain and a sense of isolation that accompanies mourning, especially when all around you are celebrating and you feel sad. It’s just a period of time to get through and move on.

When someone you care about is in bereavement, here are 5 intangible gifts that may be given over and over, any time of the year, and are always joyfully received.

  1. Give your time
  2. Give your energy
  3. Give your ideas
  4. Give your support
  5. Give your love

How can these precious gifts be given?

First, stay close-by. Grievers feel isolated and unsociable. Drop by, phone, email or text regularly, just to say hi.

Be a good listener. Often, well-meaning friends want to give advice. But careful listening gives the other person a chance to say what’s really on their mind.

Extend invitations to gatherings and offer to pick them up.

Run errands together. Trips to the grocery store, library, dry cleaners, pharmacy or bank can include a quick stop for lunch or coffee.

Plan an afternoon for baking, wrapping gifts, or doing some decorating together.

Talk about the person who died. If you knew and miss that person, say so.

Suggest a small memory item for the holiday they celebrate, such as a tree ornament or a donation in the deceased person’s name.

Again, stay close and in touch. All the intangible gifts can be given over and over again.

 

For more tips and ideas about grief at holiday time, or just in general, click on the Articles tab.

Stay well,

Judy

Grief Shared

May 15th, 2015 by judytalks

In the immediate aftermath of grief, friends and family may surround you with comfort and support. Everyone calls, many visit, and you walk the necessary steps through this awfulness that has happened. Cards and phone calls are sent to notify people, services are planned, legal issues are addressed for follow-up, and financial settlements have been discussed. A few weeks have gone by, and now is when most of those people begin to withdraw. There doesn’t seem to be much more for anyone to do, except to stay in touch and wish you well.

It’s at this point that grievers may wonder if sharing their grief with others in mourning would help ease the pain. Everyone’s heard about grief groups. Whereas years ago, they were few and far between, today they abound. They may be held in community centers, churches, offices, or even homes. Some are basically open-ended with a general plan and a facilitator, while others use a printed program that focuses on one specific issue each week. These issues may include emotions, such as fear, sadness, or anger, or they may include practical problems, such as handling the money, finding legal counsel, or getting your car fixed. The question is, “How will this really help me?”.

Looking for an appropriate group can be daunting. At a time when your emotions are unpredictable and you often feel fatigued, checking out numerous groups may seem overwhelming. Here’s where asking for help comes in. People who have been in a group can give you insight as to the format and also the benefits they derived. Plus any drawbacks. The funeral director, clergy, and community centers will probably also have pertinent information about several groups for you to consider.

If you wish to find a group, take a minute to jot down what you hope to gain from your relationship with others who gather regularly to express their loss. Decide what kind of openness and comfort would be acceptable, and what you would not like to experience. Then call the leader and ask questions. The leader should be non-intrusive and should maintain a non-judgmental atmosphere. Ground rules are discussed and agreed upon. Leaders may be psychologists, therapists, facilitators, or grief counselors. Some groups are led by non-professionals and can be very beneficial, but it’s important that confidentiality be enforced and trust understood.

What can you expect in the way of benefits from a grief group?

1.   First of all, you can say anything (within reason) without alarming anyone. Sometimes you can’t do this with friends and family.

2.  You will have a place to go and a specific time to meet on a regular basis. Looking forward to certain things helps to regulate your life.

3. The leader will be a resource person for you if you need to address other issues.

4. You will probably connect with 1 or 2 other people, maybe more, and have friends you can count on after your group work is finished.

5.  A person who has suffered a loss can go to a group anytime. It doesn’t have to be immediate. People have been known to seek a group months or years after losing someone.

It’s said that shared grief helps ease the pain and anguish of losing a loved one. For each person, their grief is unique and is borne individually. You may derive great comfort, learn something beneficial, or simply enjoy not being alone all the time. Give yourself every opportunity to explore the options available.

I wish you well,

Judy

Where Has All The Comfort Gone?

March 20th, 2015 by judytalks

Time has passed. The Holidays are over, and everyone else’s life seems to go on with all the daily and ordinary things they do. Yours seems to stand still. People you talk to just assume that you feel better, that you are nearly “over it” and your brand new life lies ahead, clear and straight.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Is there a disconnect somewhere?

The answer is yes. The disconnect occurs because comfort comes in rushes at first, everyone wanting to help and console you. The sadness and shock of losing this most necessary person has you in its grip.  You still can’t imagine how life can go on.

Staying connected is difficult during bereavement. Family members are at different stages of mourning. Friends are busy with lives that haven’t been as disrupted as yours. Everyone wants you to feel comforted, but knowing what that takes, long-term- is far from their minds. Ours is a society that moves on.

It is up to you to maintain those close relationships. Stay in touch by phone, email, or in person. When someone invites you to an outing, meeting, or social gathering, go. Whether you feel like it or not isn’t the issue. Being with caring and relaxed people is the beginning of learning to live alone.

Comfort has all kinds of faces and isn’t well-defined. Just getting out there helps you to take a look at the world again and see possibilities. Old friends may bring new friends. New groups, hobbies, or interests develop while you’re testing the waters, surrounded by people you can trust. They are there to support you. Let them.

I wish you well,

Judy

 

How I’m Thriving

August 7th, 2014 by judytalks

I recently published an e-book on Kindle entitled From Surviving to Thriving Finding Comfort Following Loss. I became a survivor in January, 1991, when my husband of 27 years died.  I remember the pain and confusion of those early weeks and months when I wondered if my family and I would survive at all. I began journaling and have continued to write about the fact of grief and bereavement.

We did survive. In fact, we have all thrived. My four children are independent, productive and thoughtful people. I have managed to rise to the cause and make a good and satisfying life for myself. That’s where the thriving comes in. Grief and loss change everything. Feeling powerless, bewildered, and afraid, grievers look to everyone and everything for comfort and support. We search for answers to tough questions, and ways and means for moving out of darkness and back into the light of day.

You will never be completely free of the fears of survivorship. You will never be completely pain-free. But you can take back power over your own life and build a new life, by design, not accident. I am thriving today by doing things that I love – creative writing, quilting, spending time with family, and interacting with others who are in transition from surviving to thriving. Comfort and ideas come from unexpected places.

Gratitude is a great healer. I keep a journal for recording those things, people, and happenings for which I am grateful.  May you find what you seek today and begin or continue your own journey toward peace.

Judy

 

From surviving to thriving

July 15th, 2014 by judytalks

Can  you remember the last time someone in your family died? Perhaps you were a child whose elderly great-uncle died, or maybe someone young was tragically killed in an accident. Consider for a few minutes where comfort came from. Who reached out to you, to your family?

Surviving the loss of a loved one is very difficult and very personal. To begin to move toward healing and a sense of yourself as a thriving person requires an understanding of what has happened to you, not just your loved one.

Where do we go for the death education we never got? There are many resources available today that weren’t around 20 years ago. The internet is an ideal place for up-to-date resources. Books, articles, e-books, groups, camps, professional counselors, and faith-based spiritual centers are in touch with the needs of grievers.

For my part, I have just published an e-book on Kindle, titled From Surviving to Thriving  Finding Comfort Following Loss. Based on personal experience, and research from the professional community, this e-book gives comfort, support, and clear directives for processing your grief. It takes time to manage the pain and begin to move forward.  As you walk through this difficult time in life, you will become aware  of the resources already inside you.  Emerging whole and confident allows you to begin to visualize a new life built on memories and a clear sense of who you can become.

I wish you well,

Judy

For my Kindle books:  www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

Book Marketing Challenge

June 6th, 2014 by judytalks

Judy Strong  Learn Plan Act!

I’m here to say that this has been inspiring and motivating. The marketing tool I believe will be the most beneficial to me right now is teleseminars. As a grief facilitator, I like to work directly with people. Face to face or by phone gives me an opportunity to get to know them and for them to see who I am. Helping others with change and loss means building trust, and I think the teleseminars will work beautifully. I can deliver information, answer questions, clarify meaning, and generally relate and interact with people, as they share their individual needs and concerns. It was very encouraging to me to hear so many interviewees say that they were scared, had small lists, and began on a shoestring. I can relate to all of that. Just getting out there, I believe, is the way to start, and I think my audience will benefit from the experience of the teleseminar as we address their issues. The variety of ways to do teleseminars is also a huge advantage. By phone, by webcam, with slides, or whatever you choose, the follow-up options are exceptional. Being able to send a transcript or audio reinforces the whole experience, and I’m especially interested in doing e-reports and e-books to further my business and offer more to my audience. Grief work takes time, and it’s always my hope that people I meet or who read my books will stay in touch. Offering a chance to get together on the phone or webcam is a personal invitation to give comfort and support, throughout their bereavement and beyond. It’s establishing a sincere friendship.

I have published two print books. No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing addresses both the emotional and practical issues associated with loss. It’s a primer that can be used by individuals, professionals, and groups.
My second book, A Child’s Grief Surviving the Death of a Parent, gives relevant information to those persons helping a child who has lost a parent. Seen through the eyes of 7-year old Johnnie and his mother, it emphasizes the need for comfort, truth-telling, and the consistency required for healing to take place.

My blog:  http://survive-strong.com/blog-2/?pg=blog
My website:  www.survive-strong.com
My e-books:  www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

Death Education What do you need to know?

April 13th, 2014 by judytalks

You’ve just learned that a close friend has lost a loved one. Your friend is devastated, and your heart is heavy. What can you say and what can you do after you say, “I’m so sorry”?

Your immediate response of condolence is just the beginning. Extending deep comfort will require a commitment of time, and an understanding of the mourning process.

Where do we go to learn how to comfort? In our society, death education usually comes after the fact. It’s a subject once learned by watching family and friends as they attended to the grievers among them. There’s no doubt that today, the medical and helping professions contribute greatly to care and comfort. But they also deprive individuals of the learning that is necessary for helping those who are mourning, and this has left a critical void in our social curriculum. As a grief writer and educator, I see the problems this creates for those who mourn and those who comfort them.

There is a great deal of information available to fill this void. Book stores and libraries offer many books on all aspects of death and loss. It may require some browsing, as there are not always specific categories to search. Try looking under self-help, family and relationships, or psychology if you can’t find death or bereavement. The internet has many websites, including my own, that are devoted to these subjects. There are article sites, grief centers, organizations for specific death issues (death of a child, certain illnesses) and online book stores, print and e-books. Find sites you like, authors who speak to you, and information centers that help you with your needs. You may be able to leave comments or ask questions, and often you can connect with others. Death education doesn’t have to come after the fact. It’s never too late to learn.

Judy

Death Education and the School of Hard Knocks

March 18th, 2014 by judytalks

As I look through my blogs and articles material, I realize I’ve covered many aspects of grief and loss. I began writing about grief following the death of my husband. My first book, No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing, was taken from my journal, and documented the struggle I experienced finding answers and support. A Child’s Grief Surviving the Death of a Parent, resulted from personal experience – my own and others – and general research. I began giving seminars, writing articles, and doing radio interviews shortly after, and have gathered considerable information on this important aspect of life.
In our society, death education usually comes after the fact. Though there are classes on various topics concerning dying and bereavement, most of us learn how to help ourselves and others the hard way – through personal experience, when emotions are out of bounds and cognitive abilities are diminished. It doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s safe to say nearly everyone will face the death of a loved one and need comfort and support. We also find ourselves in a position of wanting and needing to help someone else to cope with a loss. As a writer and educator, I love to teach. My website displays my books with a synopsis you may read. My blog appears there and on Authors Den and Good Reads. My articles may be read on the website and also on www.ezinearticles.com and www.scribd.com. If you haven’t checked them out, please be my guest.
My current writing project is in full swing. Longer articles and little e-books are in the making and will appear on Kindle. More informative, these additions to my teaching tools will give you the knowledge you need when you want to reach out with comfort and support to a grieving friend. You don’t need a Kindle to read them. For $0.99, they can be downloaded and read on your computer, or printed out.
My work as a grief facilitator with children and the Flying Solo group I started for adults has taught me the importance of giving clear, honest, reliable tools for everyday use. Death knocks on every door, and when it does, a solid foundation for healing begins with confidence and knowledge. Whether you need comfort for yourself or for a friend, your death education can begin now.
I wish you well,
Judy

The Changing Face of Grief Recovery

February 28th, 2014 by judytalks

The Changing Face of Grief Recovery
When I was widowed twenty-three years ago, I had a difficult time finding a grief group. The Yellow Pages yielded nothing, friends had no ideas, and the church I attended at the time had none. I finally called the mortuary that had handled my husband’s services, and they told me they had a group that met on the premises. Perhaps they had mentioned it in one of our conversations, but I didn’t remember. I was given the necessary information as to the format – small and led by survivors – the meeting time and the room in the lower level where they gathered. I began attending at the next meeting.
It was small and informal, but yielded good results. Attendance included five to ten persons who sat around a table with a leader and simply shared how the week had gone. You could talk as much as you wished, but needed to take turns at first. Others would respond with general ideas, but didn’t give advice or express negative remarks. Sometimes we cried, sometimes we laughed. The general rule is that each person’s way of mourning is entirely theirs and is respected. Grief groups don’t cancel meetings for holidays; in fact, those are the times most necessary for getting together.
I attended the group every week for six months until I was ready to be on my own. I felt then, and feel today that the group helped me immensely. I only wished there had been a group for teens and children.
Today there are many choices for help with the grieving process. Groups may be small and informal or large, organized, and managed by professionals in the field. There are centers for grieving children, (I facilitated at one for two years), camps, ongoing support groups led by survivors, and workshops that cover many issues.
It makes me more than glad that this most important part of life is being acknowledged and dealt with considerately and efficiently. If you’ve been helped by such a group or facility, pass on the good word.
Judy

To Market To Market

September 14th, 2013 by judytalks

That title, from a nursery rhyme, indicates that someone is going to the market. However, all authors know that it really refers to the need to market your book. First you write it, then you have to sell it.

I’ve been marketing since 2004, when my first book was published. It doesn’t get any easier, but the need to regularly review my strategy is the creative side of this job, the part I like best. I’m currently in that process, looking over my original notes and plans, checking results, and brainstorming brilliant ideas to give my marketing some pizazz. The bottom line, of course, is that it really takes daily attention and consistency. It’s about elbow grease.

What motivates me and keeps me on track is wanting to get the information out there to people who will benefit from good, solid, insight on grief. It doesn’t take the pain away; it helps you to bear it. Comfort when you need it most can’t be packaged and sold. It must be freely given. Share what you know, say what you feel, and listen.

Judy

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