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Remembrances

October 24th, 2015 by judytalks

Remembrances

The death of a loved one is accompanied by deep emotional pain, pain that can’t be dismissed. The longing to hold on to that irreplaceable person is profound, and letting go is unthinkable.

Amidst all of the practical things that must be done – notifying people, planning services, going over finances and legal issues – there is a desire to create a remembrance, a legacy that says this person’s life mattered.

A memorial or legacy can be accomplished in different ways, and you can have several if you wish. Often, a legacy is included in the settling of the estate. Honoring the life of the loved one may be done by giving a gift of money to an organization, college or university. Other means include the gift of a special collection, scholarship, garden, or a wing on a building. There may also be a monetary gift that is designated for a specific purpose, such as a charity for medical, educational, or civic projects.

Personal memorials are commonly done by individuals who send a donation to a foundation that researches an illness or disability associated with the deceased. All in all, remembering a person whose life touched yours in a deep and personal way helps the process of letting go.

It’s important for grievers to acknowledge the difficulty of the mourning period. It’s a time to actively assess the relationship that has ended, and determine how you wish to make a part or parts of your life rich and meaningful, despite your loss.

A remembrance may be a place of peace or an active, ongoing celebration that you can return to when you wish to renew your connection to that irreplaceable person.

Healing takes place by remembering, not forgetting.

Judy

 

No Time To Grieve A Survivor’s Guide To Loss And Healing

September 25th, 2015 by judytalks

No Time To Grieve A Survivor’s Guide To Loss And Healing

When a death occurs, it’s likely that the family has little information for solving the problems of grief and loss. The competing factors of emotional pain and practical responsibilities leave little time and energy for grievers to do the hard work of mourning their loss.

Death knocks on every door, often unexpectedly, and those who mourn are usually ill-prepared to cope. Fear, sadness and anxiety often become everyday emotions. Meanwhile, the responsibilities associated with handling an estate stare you in the face.

For those families who have experienced the death of a loved one, it becomes clear that there is certainly a need for death education in our society.

The important question to ask is whether you have in place what you would need to handle these responsibilities.

Legal matters before a death occurs include a do not resuscitate document, a living will, and an individual’s wishes for disposition of the body and final resting place. Handling the estate following the death has numerous considerations. A will, trust, military records, marriage/divorce papers, social security, and dependent children just to start. Finances include investments, pensions, property, cash flow, and taxes.

Those of us who have had such an event in our lives would have benefitted from a guide book that gave pertinent information and support as we struggled to manage every day. Had we known, we might have had paperwork in order, discussions completed, and a clear understanding of the emotional needs of the bereaved.

In our society death education usually comes after the fact, leaving survivors grasping at straws, and undermining the deep need to mourn completely and appropriately.

Resources abound for getting your affairs in order. Estate lawyers, community classes, and the internet all give pertinent information for you to consider. A good choice might be a thorough and relevant book that you can read and keep handy for reference from time to time. One that you can carry in purse or briefcase would be ideal.

The benefits of such an excellent reference book would begin with a comprehensive list of issues associated with bereavement. Deep grief affects every aspect of our being – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. There is pain, fatigue, confusion, and anger, as well as other feelings and considerations. Where to begin?

For now, let’s start with the first responsibility you face – services. In general, there are reviewals, funerals, memorial services, gatherings of mourners, or a combination of all or a few of these acknowledgements.

If you plan to get your affairs in order, you may wish to start researching the above named services for consideration. Whatever your age or situation, keep a notebook with your ideas and preferences listed. You may also want to confer with clergy, spiritual leaders, or family for insight and suggestions.

In the years I have been writing on this subject, preparation or lack thereof regarding death and loss has been a leading cause of either consternation or peace of mind for those who mourn.

Keep your references and notes in easy reach, knowing that whenever it is needed, you have made important choices.

My website: www.survive-strong.com

Amazon page: www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

I wish you 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

From Deepest Pain to Gratitude

April 22nd, 2015 by judytalks

The shock of immediate loss brings deep, relentless pain for which there is no solace. The comfort and support of friends and family gives only temporary relief, and then the sharp pangs of loss and sadness begin all over.

In the beginning, it’s impossible to even imagine that one day there will be a sliver of gratitude in this awfulness. For what could you possibly be grateful?

Healing begins in both the heart and the mind. The idea of being without that necessary person is unthinkable. The outpouring of love and devotion from one heart to another stops for lack of a destination.

You are alone, overwhelmed with the knowledge that someone you love is physically gone, and yet seems so very present in your life. How do you hold on to that comforting sense of presence, when your mind assures you that it simply isn’t true?

A quiet time each day allows you to remember all the emotions, each important event, the everyday conversations, and the unspoken bond that ties you together. Writing down whatever you wish – memories, feelings, future plans, and special times that only you two shared – becomes the foundation of gratitude.

Each part became a measure of support in your life together, and the sum total of all parts is the whole relationship you created. This can’t be destroyed. It remains a part of who you are. For this, you can be grateful.

Have a quiet time every day. Structure it any way you like. Remember to include one thoughtful and heart-warming gratitude for who you are because of that incredible person, whose face you can see and whose laughter you can hear.

You’ll know you are healing when the pain begins to subside and you can smile when you think of your loved one.

I wish you well,

Judy

Grief Lasts a Lifetime

August 18th, 2014 by judytalks

Understanding the critical aspects is essential for healing and moving forward. You do not get over grief, you come to terms with it. I want to share with you some meaningful tips that will help you as you learn to turn sorrow into gratitude. These heartfelt tips will address critical aspects of grief events and lay out a logical process for moving forward.

Todays tip:  Acknowledge the deep sadness and fatigue you may be feeling.

Your mind and body can’t handle all that is happening to you. Find a quiet place to gently breathe life back into your soul.

These tips will be posted regularly to give you insight and clarity for the period of bereavement. A quiet time each day helps with focusing on the difficult task of mourning. Your grief is about you, not just the loved one you have lost.

Let me know how things are going. I encourage comments, questions, and just touching base. 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

 

The Time to Celebrate in a Time of Sorrow

December 7th, 2013 by judytalks

That time of year is here again. The Holidays are upon us, bringing excitement and chaos, memories and tears. The busyness of these weeks may keep our minds focused on the traditions we celebrate, but when bereavement accompanies you every day, there’s a dull ache that won’t go away. Friends and family want you to share in the joy of the holidays, and may flood you with places to go and things to do. Keeping the spirit alive is their goal and, though well-meant, they don’t understand that this year, and maybe for many years, a somber note clouds over the festivities.
How can you help yourself or someone else to celebrate your cherished traditions while mourning a loved one? Remember that this is your holiday to commemorate as you wish. It may not resemble anything you’ve done before, but you can establish new traditions, join others or be by yourself, or simply stroll through public places listening to the music and feeling the energy of people who are making merry. Decide ahead of time what you’ll do if sadness overtakes you, and make a list of gifts to give yourself this year. These gifts may include a cup of coffee and ice cream, an ornament for yourself or your loved one, a phone call to someone you haven’t talked to for a long time, or connecting with a neighborhood group distributing toys or food baskets.
The pain of loss will be with you for a long time, and missing your loved one may seem unbearable. If being with large groups is difficult, invite a few people who are close to you, serve simple food, and relax together. A sense of quiet peace and joy emerges from the gentle touch of those who truly comfort.
This may be a time of sorrow for others you know, and planning an outing might be the perfect solution for meeting and greeting, without having to answer endless questions of how you are doing. Plays and concerts are abundant and many are free or cost little. A chili supper and game night or dessert and coffee spread warmth around and nourish body and soul.
The need for comfort for yourself or a friend can occur anytime of the year, but the holidays are especially difficult. The gift of time and a listening ear are at the top of everyone’s list. Put on your Santa hat and feel the joy.
I wish you well,
Judy

Prioritize You

March 18th, 2013 by judytalks

The dinner hour and evening seem to be the most difficult times of the day for people who live alone. Your errands have been run, the work day is done, and its getting dark outside. Eating alone seems depressing and deciding what to do afterwards becomes a chore, or aggravation.

How to ease that transition time from late afternoon to dinner takes some planning. People who have (almost) mastered this start with a list on Sunday evening that takes them through the week. Connecting with people doesn’t all have to be done during the day or the weekend. If you’re working, consider having a few business meetings around dinnertime or shortly after. Others may appreciate the opportunity to also make that transition. Classes, groups, and activites are often scheduled in the evening. Sign up for a couple, even if it’s not your favorite thing. Libraries, community centers, and small colleges offer a wide range of interesting events you might enjoy. Take a class, learn a skill, or join a bookclub.

For those evenings you will be alone, make something special for yourself. Try new recipes, invent one, or dig out a family recipe and have a go at it. Make a dessert. Mealtime should be a relaxing and pleasurable time of the day. When that twinge of loneliness sets in, call someone, post a blog, or write in your journal.

Prioritizing yourself seems to be a lost art, especially when you are sad and missing someone. We’re usually good friends to everyone else, so be a good friend to yourself. Paying attention to emotional needs is part of the healing process. Learning to like living alone is a good prerequisite to living with someone else. It means you value good company.

The person you lost had you on the top of their priority list. You still deserve to be there.

Take care,
Judy

Living Alone and Liking It

February 18th, 2013 by judytalks

Learning to live without an irreplaceable person is a battle with yourself. The impossible has happened and whether you actually live alone or not, you are struggling to exist without your loved one.

In the early years following the death of my husband, three of our four children still lived at home. I was mourning the loss of the one person I depended on for my life’s breath, not because I was incapable of caring for our family, but because together we had learned to function as one whole being. By the time I was completely alone, I could more than survive; I began to thrive.

Grief and loss don’t end with bereavement. Moving forward is a decision, one that includes memories of that person still present in your life. But you begin to create a life for yourself that is to your liking, one that affirms your ability to be as comfortable and efficient alone as you were as part of a team.

Over the years, I have listened to many people describe the painful jouney of their own loss, and how they re-designed their lives. These stories are a testimony, not only to strength and courage, but to the resilience and innovation of self-worth. I’ll relate some of these life journeys over the next few weeks, no names, but fleshed out characters and personalities that have weathered the storms of life. If you have a story you’d like to share, please email me.

I wish you well,
Judy

Pain Management

November 13th, 2012 by judytalks

The pain of grief is hard to treat. There is no medicine, no magic wand that makes the hurt go away.

As the holidays approach, the fact of loss becomes more acute, and deciding what to do can boggle the mind. If you are in bereavement right now, do you have plans? Can you celebrate the holidays and still grieve your loved one?

Our Flying Solo group discussed a wide range of feelings and options. For some, it’s just getting through the day. This is especially hard the first few years, when celebrating is unthinkable. Those with family have mixed emotions. Being with loved ones is comforting, but also busy. Spending the day alone was first choice for some, though the day inevitably gets long and lonely.

For thanksgiving, some will come to my house for a traditional dinner. It will be relatively quiet and – Good Grief! – no football. Maybe we’ll play a game, maybe just talk.

Some ideas for you to consider:
If you’re invited but don’t want to stay long, just go for pie.
Invite someone to your house.
Invite a friend for a movie and dessert.
Make some traditional foods, enjoy, and have leftovers.
Spend some quiet time remembering the joy of celebrating with your loved one. It will be sad, but you’ll probably cry anyway. Write down the best memories and put them in your treasure chest of things worth keeping.

I wish you well,
Judy
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