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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

Where Do I Go For Help?

November 2nd, 2012 by judytalks

Crisis and loss come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. The devastation that results from natural disasters is enormous, counting loss of life, property, and your sense of security.

Today it’s the East Coast, with the aftermath of Sandy. Tomorrow it may be in another part of the world. Regardless of location, this planet is mourning its losses every day. With or without warning, the human race takes a back seat to every kind of destructive act of nature.

Finding comfort when you need it most is difficult. In a disaster, numerous organizations rally to preserve life and property. When it’s safe to return, assessing your damage can be heart-rending. Personal property, those sentimental items so dear to you and to family, may lie amongst the debris, damaged beyond repair.

The job of the work crews is to get things up and running. When businessess, transportation, utilities, hospitals and the like get going again, it brings back a sense of normalcy. But no one is assigned to retrieving the lost personal items. Though these things seem irreplaceable, other family members, friends, or neighbors often have copies of pictures and memorabilia like those you lost. When you get yourself settled, contact everyone you can think of and ask for help. As items begin to surface, you can restore your memories in your treasure chest. It’s the beginning of healing.

Emotions are not usually reliable in a crisis, but contact with others and having them share memories with you is the beginning of hope, and pushes the fear and sadness away.

If you are grieving for any reason, stay in touch with those who love you and let them give comfort. Mourning takes time and energy. Take care of yourself.

Judy

Closure – Mixed Emotions

June 15th, 2012 by judytalks

What feelings do you have when something meaningful in your life comes to a close? Do you ever feel that there is a permanent end to an event or phase of your life? I contemplated this thought as we finished this season at the grieving center where I am a facilitator. Those families that close their participation will probably never completely be “finished” with their grief. And the families returning will use this break to enjoy summer vacations, but thoughts of their loved ones will still be present.

What is it that we want or expect from “closure”? Answers to questions may never come. Relief from pain is never complete. The ideal answer seems to be that we can put some things in life to rest , so we may rest. Saying goodbye allows you to start saying hello to the new ideas, possibilities, and people you encounter. It’s hard to move forward when you’re dragging a huge sack of rocks behind you.

We have a closing ceremony for those leaving, to acknowledge the work they’ve done and the healing that has taken place. Why not devise you own small ceremony for those hard to let go of things? Sound silly? If it’s crowding out room for new beginnings, give it a proper send-off and express gratitude that it’s done. Living in the moment is the attitude of choice for many. I’m trying to make it mine consistently.

Wishing you the best,
Judy

Recovery – Acknowledgement

June 9th, 2012 by judytalks

Whenever I Google the word Recovery I get websites about ships at the bottom of the ocean or addiction programs for rehab. The kind of recovery I write and talk about has to do with the loss of someone or something dear to you. It’s something irreplaceable that causes you deep grief and sadness.
When you lose something that can’t be replaced, there’s more than sadness. The range of emotions runs from anger and confusion to a sense that you’ve lost yourself. Nothing is the same, nor will it ever be.
Recovery takes time and it requires a choice on your part. The beginning of healing is the acknowledgement that life can and must go on. Until you reach that point, you may remain in a state of isolation from other things and people who were dear to you. Reconnecting is also painful, because it seems that you must let go of the person or thing you have lost. But, in reality, you take it with you, forever a keepsake you may revisit any time.

I wish you well,

Judy

A Time to Tweak

June 29th, 2011 by judytalks

Awhile ago I wrote about developing a marketing plan for my latest book. (see The Year of Magical Planning). For the most part, that plan has given me opportunities for reaching the grieving community with comfort and support. Recently, though, I’ve tweaked it to give myself larger chunks of time for covering the ongoing aspects of bereavement. Mourning doesn’t start and stop at fixed points. The papers I’m writing are posted on www.scribd.com under judywriting and will be continued in a series. These papers help you to manage the difficulties of grief, while taking care of your inner self. Many thanks to you who have already checked them out.

Taking joy in your work has to allow times for tweaking. A fresh approach, a new idea, or a newly discovered avenue for reaching your audience renews your spirit and keeps you on your toes.

Please visit my website, www. survive-strong.com for resources that offer you comfort and hope. I wish you well.

Judy

A Jog in the Road

June 10th, 2011 by judytalks

I’m slow to change and not a big risk taker. My habit is to take an idea through a rigorous test run of study, research, thought, and discussion with friends and family before embarking on projects. I used this strategy to forage into the world of epublishing. Not long after the publication of my first book, I submitted an article to EzineArticles to see what would happen. I wanted to present information on my subjects – grief and loss- in smaller, more focused pieces. I continued to write articles, submitting also to Article_Niche, but did so very gradually. Occasionally, I would check the stats to see how I was doing. Awhile ago I realized that I was getting a lot of hits.

Two things, in particular, struck me: People are looking for information on these subjects in greater numbers than I thought, and I could reach people with just what they needed to know in a short, concise article.

I have seen the jog in the road, and decided to take it. Whereas I intended to devote most of my time to writing books and publishing with my excellent publisher, I have begun to split that time to include larger chunks for writing articles and short papers that deliver answers and content that meet specific, immediate needs.

I discovered Scribd through a handout at a Book Fair and have posted two free pieces. I also plan to give Kindle a good look. Sometimes the jog in the road turns out to have remarkable potential.

Happy weekend.
Judy

The Lessons of Loss

May 18th, 2011 by judytalks

The past few years have made loss a household word. The pain of losing homes, jobs, funds, along with our self esteem and sense of place in the world is grievous. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been a victim. When everyone is struggling just to maintain basic necessities, it’s hard to find anyone who can help.

The truth is, though, that when everyone is experiencing the same calamity, there is support that yields hope and a sense of connecting.

It’s pointless to ask who did this to us. The real question is, “What will rise out of the ashes?”

Within my own family, friends and neighbors I see despair, anger, sadness, but also a determined drive not to be defeated. A new set of values is emerging, a fresh look at the word “career”, and a relaxed attitude toward self concept and who decides what and where our place is in the world.

I have a renewed sense of confidence that younger people will reinvent this socioeconomic construct in which we live, and it will be inclusive, open ended, and fluid. Though I’m a grandmother, I have every intention of sticking around to see it happen, if it takes a hundred years.

As always,
Judy

Comfort When You Need It Most

May 10th, 2011 by judytalks

Mother’s Day was last Sunday, a holiday I used to share with the opening day of fishing when I lived in Minnesota. My late husband was an avid fisherman and, as we had a cabin on a lake, itched to start fishing every year. Whoever declared Opening Day of Fishing to fall on the same day as Mother’s Day is beyond me, but I usually told him to “just go, have fun, and bring home dinner.”

He’s been gone for twenty years, but I still have a hard time thinking of how to celebrate being a mother on the first Saturday in May, so this year we spent the day putting on our solar screens. I live in Arizona now and it seemed like the right time.

Sometimes things just present themselves at an opportune time and it seems wise to go along with it. My last post mentioned my endeavor to maintain balance in my work and my life. It’s slowly taking shape and I’m relaxing with a more focused view and more realistic approach to what is truly meaningful and how to best help others with their grief and loss needs.

I discovered a good website for posting short papers (and other writings) and have begun a series of papers that address the troublesome aspects of loss and healing. If you are in need today, or know someone who is, please check out my first paper on www.scribd.com and look for The Deep Impact of Loss. It’s a simple, clear guide, written from experience.

I wish you well.

Judy

The Year of Magical Planning

March 12th, 2011 by judytalks

A Child’s Grief was published in January, 2010. Even before the manuscript was edited, I began putting together a marketing plan that would inform and encourage grievers and those who help them to become educated about death, grief and loss.

To date, I have reached many, many people. Groups, organizations, in-person discussions, and online social networking has spread the notion that death education doesn’t have to come after the fact in our society. We can learn how to help ourselves and others.

I am gratified to see more openness on this subject, more willingness to talk and listen, more groups and centers that address all the aspects of recovery and healing.

My recent 1st place book award from Reader Views 2010 Book Award contest has given me pleasure and encouragement that I am living my passion. Keeping you informed about bereavement is my heart’s desire, motivated first because I am a survivor, then, as an educator and writer. My most recent endeavor, to become a grief facilitator for grieving children and families strengthens my resolve to forge ahead.

Please avail yourself of the resources on these personal and important subjects on my website, www.survive-strong.com. When trauma strikes, the more you know before hand, the better you will emerge from the awfulness that is mourning. I wish you well.

Judy

Grief Support A Critical Need

February 19th, 2011 by judytalks

Saturday I completed a training program to become a grief facilitator at an excellent center for grieving children. All family members are included and program activties are specific for each age level, including adults. The center is for support, not therapy, and allows as many weeks/months as each family feels they need.

There are more centers, more grief groups, more books, and more programs today than were available ten or fifteen years ago. However, the grieving community remains a hugely underserved demographic in our society. Somehow, we fail to realize the fact of loss, which may include death, divorce, desertion, loss of homes, jobs, and financial security.

I write continually about this subject in books, articles, and my blog. My goal is to educate and inspire, and also to give practical information for dealing with the aspects of loss and bereavement.

The statistics surrounding incomplete healing from loss boggle the mind.

Physical illness
Mental illness
Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
Incarceration
Abuse
Inability to form healthy relationships
Inability to hold a job
The devastation to individuals, families, and society in general is enormous.

Finding information to become more aware and to learn basic skills in helping yourself or others may take a bit of research. If your community education program doesn’t include grief and recovery, ask for such a class. Senior centers, retirement communities, faith based facilities, and libraries all have ideal locations and space for such programs. Ask for them.

I’m a firm believer that death education should come before-not after- the fact. Death knocks on every door. Each person, every family needs and deserves simple understanding and preparation in the event of a tragedy. It’s a starting point, certainly not complete, but is foundational to healthier mourning and a sense of healing.

As always, I wish you well.
Judy

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