October 19, 2021
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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

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

 

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

 

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:  https://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

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

More Tips – Being Consistent

June 26th, 2013 by judytalks

Kids live in the moment.They hardly ever think about tomorrow. That’s why parents learn to never tell kids about an upcoming summer vacation in March. They’ll ask every single day if it’s summer yet. Even as kids get older, they focus mostly on what’s happening right now, something we should learn to do.

 

Helping a child through mourning means spending time together, talking, going places they enjoy, and putting tangible memories in a treasure chest for safe keeping. Setting aside time to spend with a child is a promise to honor. The child will look forward to that day and time, will prepare, and eagerly await for your arrival. This helps the child to begin to move forward and build a new relationship and add new activities to a life that has seemed to stand still. Whether these “dates” are every week, or every other day, consistency is paramount. To disappoint a child is grievous to both. If you have to re-schedule, do so as soon as possible, and chat a little when you call.

 

Children await guidance and direction from us, the adults they trust to help them to learn and grow. They listen and they model after what they observe. If we’re too casual about our promises, they’ll feel abandoned and devalued. Especially at a time when  grief and loss accompany them all day, everyday, they’ll cherish the times you set aside just for them. And you’ll reap rewards galore, because you will become one of their heroes.

 

Enjoy,

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

A Look At Grief – When Life Stops

October 29th, 2012 by judytalks

When the life of someone you love stops, the part of your life that you shared with that person stops also. It’s abrupt and it’s painful. Suddenly everything changes because life as you knew it has stopped.
Does it matter whether there was time to prepare? Having your loved one in hospice care may give you the opportunity to talk about life, death, survivor concerns, and last wishes. But this isn’t always possible, or isn’t discussed. Talking about the past can take precedence over the present moment, often leaving survivors with no knowledge about the state of affairs they will have to handle.
Death education is almost never talked about in our society. We have a denial/dismissal attitude, preferring to believe that we’ll “cross that bridge when we come to it.” But, often, there is no warning, or the subject never comes up. The face of grief is more than emotional pain and confusion. Though deep sadness accompanies the death of a loved one, time and energy may have to be devoted to legal and financial issues, sometimes with little knowledge of the facts of the estate.
As a survivor, speaker, and grief facilitator, I have looked into the faces of many people of all ages who were overwhelmed with responsibility. Women, especially, are affected by financial issues, though men may be also. Men usually are not prepared to run a household or prepare meals.
Is there a reason we, as a society, can’t face the fact of death? Can we begin to educate ourselves as to the realities of loss and survivorship? Where did this come from, and how can we change it?
I’d like to make a difference in this aspect of life. As a survivor, my children and I know the pain of losing someone. With minor children and no will, I had to go to probate court. I needed a better job, and there weren’t the grief groups around then that there are now. But we can still do better.
Any ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Please email me. jstrong@survive-strong.com
Judy

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