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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

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

 

The Best Time to Get Your Affairs in Order

May 25th, 2014 by judytalks

As a survivor, I know that having everything in place is essential to handling an estate. My husband died intestate, meaning that he didn’t have a will. He also did not have a living will, a do not resuscitate (DNR), or funeral and/or burial wishes. I still had children living at home, a part-time job I loved, but that paid little, and a multitude of both emotional and practical responsibilities to manage.
When I published my first book, No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing, I began to spread the word about the importance of having legal and financial affairs in place. I gave seminars that explained the problems I had encountered and encouraged my audience to get their ducks in a row, so to speak. Frequently, those in attendance who had experienced loss confirmed this fact. I heard stories from widows who had expected they would have security, enough money to live on, and funds to cover inflation. Unfortunately, many had to make major changes, sell a house, and downsize their life style because they had neglected to take care of the inevitable.
The best time to get your affairs in order is now, if you haven’t already done so, and do it together. Everyone thinks it’s something that can be done later, but because my husband had no will, I had to go to probate court. My husband was 59 when he died and, though it is sobering, these things happen all too often. Your loved ones need time and energy to deal with the emotional upheaval of loss. Compromising that energy with the hassle of legal and financial issues adds a burden that can be avoided. A funeral director once told me that the legal and financial issues the family face are overwhelming, and cause an enormous amount of stress.
Talk to your family, your legal counsel and financial planner, and get the documents you need to make this situation as smooth as possible. Then put the papers in a safe, but easy to access place and relax. Enjoy life. It’s part of what we’re here for.
I wish you well,
Judy

For my resources, please go to www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

Grief What does money have to do with it?

April 26th, 2014 by judytalks

The grief that engulfs a survivor pushes all thought of practical issues away. Nothing matters but the loss of the loved one. It’s unthinkable that one has to handle the budget, pay the bills, and buy the groceries. But unless one has no responsibilities in the practical side of everyday life, those issues have to be faced.

It isn’t fair that time and energy must be siphoned off from the important task of mourning. The grief process takes every ounce of energy you can muster. And when you just can’t think straight anymore, focusing on your cash flow and wondering how far the insurance will go seems trivial. But those who have lost someone can attest to the fact that money problems become apparent, sooner rather than later.

I have spoken with widows who thought there would be security “if anything happened”. Men have a habit of saying, “If anything happens to me, you’ll be fine.” Unfortunately, that usually isn’t true. When there are minor children involved, it can become especially frightening. Unless you know where the paperwork is, and what the circumstances are, you may find yourself making critical, but hasty decisions without knowing all your options.

In my own situation, I found myself scrambling to put my affairs in order. Because my husband didn’t have a will, and I had minor children at home, I had to go to probate court. I had no idea what resources were available, and the financial world, though helpful, has its own set of rules and methods for handling death benefits.

I began to write about grief a few years after my husband died. Along with the emotional and personal aspects of loss and bereavement, I also addressed the practical issues. I believed that if these were problems to me, they probably were to many others in the same circumstances. Knowing the simple facts of your situation can give you peace of mind, and also a sense of security that you need, whether you are alone or have children to care for.

My first book, No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing, has chapters that explain the financial and legal issues you may face. Resource pages give you added information to guide your decision-making, as you move through the mourning process and gain your sense of independence. Two e-books on these subjects may be found on Kindle E-books. Getting Your Affairs In Order is a short outline that explains the procedure you may take before something happens, or after. It’s Your Money Take Charge of It is longer and clarifies some basic ideas about money and how to handle it wisely.

My books are found on my website, www.survive-strong.com.  The paperback books and the e-books can be accessed on my Amazon author’s page, www.amazon.com/author/judystrong along with my biography. Best of all, the paperback books, No time to Grieve and A Child’s Grief are often on sale. Understanding what you may need to do in the event of death and loss helps you to devote your time and energy to the essential task of grieving your loved one, while managing the practical issues that will keep you and your family afloat.

I’m so glad you are reading my blog. It’s designed to give comfort when you need it most, and information that will help you keep your feet on solid ground. There is a place for comments on my website. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Judy

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

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

When Bad Things Happen

July 24th, 2012 by judytalks

The recent shootings in Colorado leave everyone reeling and wondering why this happened. In fact, it happens all too often. Suddenly, twelve people are dead, leaving loved ones in shock and grief, with no answers and little understanding of how to mourn.

Comfort when you need it most is offered by those around you, but the healing process takes a long time. Emotions can change in a matter of seconds, and practical problems, such as planning a service and managing daily living, need attention. It’s too confusing, too much to bear, yet we power through and hope for the best.

I applaud those who mourn and extend my deepest sympathy. What friends can do is continue to stay close and, especially, to listen. Mourners need to talk. Help with the practical things, share your own feelings, and give feedback but not advice.

I wish you well.

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

Back to Business on Children's Grief

September 14th, 2010 by judytalks

I never take a complete vacation from my work with grief, loss and recovery. However, summer is a time for family and relaxation. Summer is over, and my attention again turns to research studies on these important topics. I frequently use the online library resources because there is access to papers, studies, and documents not found in the physical library.
My most recent research turned up information concerning the sense of isolation children feel following the death of a parent. In a paper by Ribbons McCarthy 2006 the fact of isolation within family relationships was cited. Often, the surviving parent is unable to support their children because of their own grief.
A solution to this problem lies in our understanding as a society of what we can do to give genuine comfort while those in mourning deal with their situation. It takes a little time and a commitment to someone’s wellbeing, but the long term benefits are enormous. Happy, healthy children and stable, secure adults is a logical goal for an intelligent society. We can learn better methods for helping each other through one of life’s inevitable occurrences.
Judy

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