September 23, 2020
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Losing Your Independence

March 30th, 2020 by judytalks

The world wide pandemic that hit our planet has threatened our very lives, and sent us into confinement. Our health,  jobs and social life have been thrown into chaos, and it’s hard to determine, from day to day, which is worse:  What we know or what we don’t know. We know leaders everywhere are struggling to cope with it, and citizens are trying to adapt to new rules about staying home indefinitely.  We also know there is an abundance of information that can change in a matter of hours.

What Is Happening?

What do we call the situation we’re in?  We’re experiencing a deep and confusing sense of loss. When you lose something you love or need for your well being, you suffer that loss. Combined with fear and anxiety, our emotions are taking a beating.

Those initial feelings are compounded with incessant questions about our preparedness for dealing with this monster.

How is it spread? What are the symptoms? Have I touched something that’s contaminated? Did I wash my hands long enough?

What exactly have we lost? Essentially we’ve lost that sense of independence, of feeling secure wherever we go and who we’re with. Routine, everyday habits, social gatherings, and job-related issues for those who work away from home, are now jeopardized or completely gone.

The immediate effects of loss are uncertainty and confusion. Whatever was in place in our daily lives has been wiped out. It’s like going down a long, narrow flight of stairs without a railing. If it’s also dark and you’re carrying something, it’s even more distressing.

You can no longer take things for granted. Those positive, dependable measures are no longer in place. Though “home” may be your favorite place in the world, being confined 24/7 for an indefinite time creates a brand new situation.

Trying to re-adjust and manage under the circumstances becomes difficult and usually annoying. Add to that, there’s a sense of  abandonment, and you begin to feel angry. Everything was going well, your routine was in place, and you felt secure.

What Can We Do?

I know how important it is to take charge of your life when you’ve been dealt a crushing blow. I’m a grief facilitator, writer and survivor. One of the most difficult tasks, when you are in a state of grief or loss, is to be assertive, and take back your  life. Putting the ball in your court is necessary and effective. Doing it is another matter. It requires making a complete turnaround from wondering what’s going on, to deciding what is actually happening in YOUR life, not the entire world’s.

What’s Happening In My World

I am in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with my daughter and son-in-law. Through I have lived in Arizona most of the last 18 years, I came here from Texas. Eventually, I’ll be returning to Arizona. Right n0w, the three of us are staying put as much as possible. Daughter Jennifer is a substitute teacher. Her job stopped when the schools closed. Son-in-law Jim brought work and supplies home yesterday, and he’ll be home bound until further notice. I’ve been here since December 17, 2019, when I came for Christmas and was invited to “stay as long as you like”. I may be here for quite awhile.

Though we’re aware that the numbers keep going up for those infected and at home, those hospitalized and for fatalities, we are relatively safe. Our job is to avoid contact, shop prudently and wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. We also are disinfecting anything that comes into the house – newspapers, grocery bags, boxes, shoes – ANYTHING.

It’s critical now that all of us find ways to stay optimistic and focused. Take an online class (Jennifer is learning French), do home maintenance or repairs that you can manage, stay in touch with friends and loved ones through apps or face time, and read some good books. And while you’re at it, project over the next few weeks and months what you’ll do when this is slowing down and it’s safe to venture out. Now that we know what it’s like to be really cooped up, plan a way to celebrate freedom. Losing your independence is beyond a learning experience; it can be a motivating factor to cherish the times when you’re in control of your life.

What Are You Doing?

Sharing stories is a great way to connect. It’s also a way for offering ideas and solutions to problems you’ve solved.

Have an interesting incident you’d like to share? Got a funny story? An innovative way to stay sane? Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions or share a story.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Judy

 

 

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

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

Book Learnin’

July 13th, 2015 by judytalks

Book Learnin’

To learn how to survive, ask a survivor. That’s pretty much true. Someone who’s been there knows the situation inside and out, has “felt” it, shared the emotions, and understands the process. At least a survivor understands their own experience of it.

When you’re going through a difficult time, finding a book that helps you, really “speaks” to you may take a while. In fact, I’ve found that I glean nuggets of valuable information, and some comfort, from a variety of sources. Books written by individuals who are not survivors, but have extensive knowledge of a subject, may be very beneficial. They may touch on aspects long forgotten by the people who endured deep pain.

When you’re looking through the book shelves in a library or bookstore, or on the Internet, consider choosing a couple of copies for a peek at the content, writing style, and background of the author.

My first book, No Time To Grieve, was written to help solve the practical problems experienced by mourners. When I hear from someone that it has done just that, as I did recently, I am happy.

I have read quite a few books on the subject of loss and bereavement, and from time to time, I pull them out and reread portions that were especially helpful or meaningful. When you or someone you know are in need of a grief survival book, take your time as you browse through the selections.

When I was widowed – nearly 25 year ago, there were very few books available. The shelves have filled up nicely.

Please check out my Resources page on my website and my publications on Amazon. Something might be just what you’re looking for.

Website: www.survive-strong.com

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

Judy

How Do You Know When Grief Turns A Corner?

July 9th, 2015 by judytalks

For some grievers, it’s sudden. Out of the blue, you feel different, things look brighter, and you can breathe easier. For others, the process has been working its way upward for some time.

The fact of mourning is entirely personal. It can’t be measured by any yardstick. Its parts can’t be labeled or identified by anything you already understand. The person in mourning knows very little going in, and has very little idea of the way out.

One thing is known:  The sudden impact of death is crippling, and the deep impact of pain can literally make you double over. Comfort from family and friends is just the beginning in the mourning process you face. How then do you know when grief turns a corner? How is it felt or noticed by you or others?

Someone once told me, “I could see that something had changed by the look on her face.”

Your thoughts, feelings, and decisions in the beginning set the stage for your bereavement. How can I cope, what should I do, how do I stop the pain are the most immediate  concerns. But the day to day priorities change, and you can rethink and rework your personal grief process to reflect your needs.

An example may be the option of handling things alone or joining a group. Often people rule out participating in a group or a specific program, wanting to “go it alone”.

There’s a lot of information that can guide you. Make a small change, with the idea that if it doesn’t feel right, you can change back.

Information sources you may want to check out include:-

Internet:  Grief resources, articles, books, programs and chat groups.

Book stores, local groups led by funeral homes, churches, community centers, or in private homes.

As always, check out credentials and formats to see what might suit you best.

My books and articles are posted on my website and are also available at Amazon.com. Click on the “buy from amazon” button, then scroll down to the “visit Amazon”s Judy Strong page”.

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

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

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

December 18th, 2014 by judytalks

For most people.

For someone who’s grieving. it’s awful.

It’s difficult to be joyful when there are tears streaming down your face, and there’s an acute ache in your heart.

The secret is to let it happen. People who love you will understand, and the rest don’t matter right now.

Besides, it’s not healthy to suppress your feelings. Grief has to be felt and expressed. It’s the way to heal.

This Holiday season, try adding one new tradition to your life. You can designate a remembrance to your loved one – like a new ornament for the tree.  Or just start something that sounds interesting – like making a gingerbread house.

When Good Tidings are all around you, it lifts your spirits, if only for a moment.

Have a wonderful season of joy.

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

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