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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

 

 

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

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

Learning to Like Your Own Company

February 26th, 2013 by judytalks

Learning to like living alone usually involves learning to like your own company. It’s funny how we think of ourselves as independent, yet prioritize being with groups and having relationships.

Certainly we need both. But being completely comfortable with just yourself seems hard to manage. The tendency is to feel that something is missing. However, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same thing.

Take a minute to ponder about the things you really like to do just by yourself. A quiet environment, no interruptions, and the opportunity to focus on some self-indulgence. Whether it be pampering yourself, working at a creative craft, or just reading a good book, you have no one to answer to, no one to cater to, just simple time alone.

How we regard the presence of others in our lives impacts even decisions we make. Often, a final choice rests on how it will affect others. This is certainly important, but how the choice will affect you should be paramount.

Critical events cast us into the role of “aloneness”, usually with little preparation for the feeling of loss, let alone managing liking our own company. However, the survivors I’ve known have done marvelously well with time alone, strengthened by regularly scheduled meetings with those groups and individuals who share interests and affection for one another.

Ask yourself what others like about you. Make a short list of things you never get to, because they require blocks of time and concentration. Then start to like your own company.

Let me know how it goes,

Judy

The Face of Grief

November 6th, 2012 by judytalks

When you look in the faces of people enduring loss, what do you see? I remember the face of a mother whose young daughter had just died. She stood on our porch, surrounded by neighbor women, unable to grasp what had happened. As we held her, I could see a blank stare give way to deep grief, and waited for the sobs to begin.

The loss of a person causes deep pain and a sense of isolation. When that loss is felt by the community, both the pain and the burden of recovery are shared but it isn’t always possible to detect the fact of grieving by simply looking at someone. Most of us are good at putting on masks, unable or unwilling to let our deepest feelings show. Though comfort and solace is needed and wanted, having to talk about our emotions is difficult. Even though you may not see the telltale signs of anguish, just knowing that something has happened may prompt you to offer condolences.

What should you say? Of course, a simple “I’m sorry” makes an immediate connection. Most grievers know that people are at a loss for words, but extending your sympathy helps bring them back into the world that seems so far away.

Grieving people have told me that they feel like reality is far away and they are unable to participate in what goes on around them. That feeling can last a long time. Any effort that reaches out and includes them is helpful, though they may not fully participate right away.

When you come face to face with someone grieving, say a few words of acknowledgment, perhaps taking their hand or giving a hug, and if you know them well enough, call a few days later and chat or extend an invitation. They may accept or not. The face of pain can come and go, but knowing you’re thought of helps the healing process. More openness in our society on the subjects of death and grief will ease the pain just a little for those coping with loss.

Judy

First Responders

October 8th, 2012 by judytalks

Out of the blue a crisis hits and you can’t think straight, don’t know where to turn, and panic is setting in. What do you do?

For anyone who has ever had this experience – and that’s probably almost everyone – someone who’s been there can be a port in the storm. Never mind if the situation or circumstances were different. Just having someone take you by the hand and stay with you is a blessing. Knowing that they’ve faced a crisis and survived delivers a sense of hope and reassurance. When there is a death of someone close, it may be awhile before you get your bearings and can make a clear decision. That support will keep you afloat while you contact family, talk to professionals, and wade through the many details that demand time and attention.

In the grief and death field, there is a long list of people who can help, including friends, therapists, groups, medical staff, and spiritual leaders. But if you’re lucky enough to know someone who has had a similar trauma in their life, even if it’s not identical, that’s the one I would call first.

What can this person do for you? A first response would be to listen, to stay close, take some notes, make suggestions but not decisions, and look to your need for understanding what is happening. This person would also check that you’re eating, sleeping, and spending time alone processing your loss.

When that crisis hits out of the blue, think about people you know who might fit this category. It may not be a close family member or friend. But it can’t hurt to ask for help, and true comfort and support may be in short supply. It often comes from unexpected places.

Judy

Written By A Survivor

October 1st, 2012 by judytalks

When you search on the internet for information about a subject, what’s the most important thing you look for? If you’re like most people – and like me – you look for credibility. Experience is not only the best teacher; it also gives insightful, relevant, and solutions-oriented information that you can count on.

A study or a proven benefit can enhance the credibility of some inquiries. But if I want to know how something really works, I ask people who have personal experience. It’s the true test.

Whenever I write on the subjects of grief and loss, I am writing as a survivor. I’ve done considerable research, interviewed people, and worked with other survivors. Those who have been through it understand the emotional pain and mental confusion of grief. Though each situation is unique and no one knows exactly how someone else feels, having someone say “I’ve been where you are”, is immeasurably supportive. A survivor gives you comfort when you need it most.

Judy

A Loss of Trust

September 16th, 2012 by judytalks

Election Day is nearly here and uncertainty seems to be the byword for this important event in American life. My blog is about grief, not politics, and grief is exactly what I see everyday. I see it in the news, in my emails, and I hear it in the conversations with friends and family members. I believe what we have lost in trust, stability, and economic security has thrown our country into a state of mourning that won’t go away soon.

I can feel the effects of grief in the voices of people, and see the pain and fear in their faces. Grief causes sadness, anxiety, and confusion. As a nation, we are mourning the loss of life as we knew it, and we have our fellow citizens to question and hold accountable. Whose job is this? It’s ours.

I began changing who I do business with a couple of years ago. A new, small bank, no clothes purchases for 18 mos. until I found American made clothing, and careful scrutiny about every place that I shopped. Will my efforts make a difference? Probably a drop in the bucket. But I’m beginning to perk up and stop expecting someone else to fix what’s broken. When I belonged to the League of Women Voters (yeah, men can join), the first thing they taught me is that I am the government. Wow! What a power surge! Go for it!

President Judy

Knowledge is Gold

July 8th, 2012 by judytalks

What is your approach to problem-solving? Do you gather information you may need ahead of time, just in case? Do you wait for a snafu and then ask people for advice? Or perhaps the time to deal with a calamity is when it happens and you tear your hair looking for answers.

Most of us come predisposed to follow one or another of these problem-solving methods. Whether or not there’s an ideal way is not the question; how you manage and get through the crisis is what’s important.

Accidents, critical illness and death strike when you least expect it. The devastation it causes to mind, body, and spirit makes gathering information more than difficult. You simply clutch at straws, unable to think straight anymore. That we manage at all is remarkable, but it’s not necessary to heap more distress and anxiety on ourselves.

Knowledge really is gold. Start to accumulate information on the effects of crisis, trauma, illness, and death that ultimately hit all of us. There is an abundance of books and articles on websites, social media, author and grief sites. Store up some gold for yourself to spend when you need comfort and support. And, while you’re at it, encourage those you love to do the same.

Judy

Flying Solo – It’s not for sissies

May 31st, 2012 by judytalks

The local group I started in April, Flying Solo, is growing in numbers and in appreciation for one another. The real joy of this group is that it has taken on a life of its own. Participants come with ideas, solutions, needs, and sometimes humor, sharing all around, and getting better acquainted.
Interest spreads by word of mouth and friendly advertising, despite summer vacations and visits from family. My hope for this group is that it will spread beyond the perimeter of the community and become a connection to places and people we would otherwise never meet.
Have a great summer.

Judy

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