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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

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

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

A Moving Experience

February 10th, 2014 by judytalks

A few weeks ago, I could look out my patio door and see beautiful, sweet, juicy oranges in abundance on my orange tree. Today I see tall evergreen trees and mounds of snow on the ground and piled on my balcony. A different view; a different part of the country.

I moved to Edina, MN on January 18, 2014. Yes, it’s cold. but the sun is shining, and the sky is a pale shade of blue. I’m adjusting to the changes while planning on buying more sweaters.

Leaving the Valley of the Sun was not without some pain. In eleven years, I made wonderful friends, participated in fun and informative trips all over Arizona and beyond, and devoted time and energy to worthwhile activities. AZ Blankets 4 Kids, the Choraliers, and my Flying Solo group leave memories that warm me from head to toe.

Coming back to the Midwest also has its perks. Family is here. The change of scenery is invigorating, and the city offers possibilities for personal and professional growth I’ve needed.

Plans for this move have been in the making for a couple of years. Thoughts and prayers have been abundant, as I considered how and exactly where I wanted to live. I must say that I’m happy and contented in my little apartment, even though I’ve been a little house bound because of the severe cold. Never mind. I had plenty to keep me busy. At eight o’clock the morning after I arrived, the moving van delivered 52 boxes, 1 plain chair, 2 tables, a card table and chairs, and my bicycle. Unpacking was my main occupation for over a week, and I’m still not completely settled. I did finally get the bicycle out of the dining room and down to the garage. Since I also sold my car before I moved, I’m learning the Metro Transit system, and working my way up to getting on a bus. Who says change is scary? I feel great!

Just Do It
Judy

House For Sale

February 14th, 2013 by judytalks

Ten years ago, I was looking for a life style change and a more financially sustainable environment. I found it in sun-soaked Arizona, a beautiful Southwestern state with a magnificent landscape, and diverse historic areas to be explored. I settled into a retirement community where I had the opportunity to build my own house, an exciting prospect.
During the years I have lived here, I have visited many stunning landscapes, and learned about the people who settled this part of the Southwest. I’ve made friends, learned to quilt, published two books, and become a dedicated writer and facilitator on the subjects closest to my heart – grief and loss. But the grandchildren are in Minnesota. My children are scattered all over the North American continent, including Canada. It’s time for another change.
I listed my house December 1st. Moving is stressful. I spend hours each week downsizing my furnishings and personal belongings. Toss, sell, or donate is what I mutter under my breath throughout the day. I make appropriate repairs and clear the clutter whenever I leave home – just in case.
I’m looking forward to a return to beautiful, though decidedly colder Minnesota. I recently read a survey on the internet that listed Minneapolis as the healthiest city in the nation. I guess subzero temperatures really do kill germs.
Know anyone who wants to spend time in a lovely climate in a fabulous community in Arizona? I have an orange tree in my back yard with fruit that is out of this world. And several cactus that have glorious blooms in the spring. My website has my contact information. Just email me or call.
www.survive-strong.com
Spring is coming.
Judy

Count Your Blessings

November 20th, 2012 by judytalks

The turkey is defrosting in the fridge, the house is almost cleaned, and one more trip to the stored should wrap it up. My guests this year are from our Flying Solo group, all missing loved ones and all anticipating sharing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

This is the beginning of the holiday season, a time when those who have had a disaster, a death, or are far away from loved ones may find it difficult to count their blessings. Perhaps just being alive is all you can name.

It’s been said that traditions keep a society stable and secure. That’s a tall order for a turkey to deliver, but I believe it’s true. Remembering the celebrations from your childhood can give one a sense of belonging and peace. Yours may have been a quiet family that enjoyed the food with little conversation, or it may have been a yearly opportunity to hold noisy conversations. Regardless, connecting with family and friends maintains ties that are hard to break, especially in the wake of tragedy.

There will be many this Thanksgiving who are bereaved and may want to be alone. Invite them anyway, for coffee and dessert, if not a whole meal. Ot call them sometime during the day and just chat. It’s hard to celebrate without that irreplaceable person in your life. You can always invite them for dinner the next day for turkey sandwiches and leftover pie.

Count your blessings, even if it’s only one or two.

Happy Thanksgiving

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

What’s A Vacation For Anyway?

August 5th, 2012 by judytalks

Why does anyone ever take a vacation? There are several reasons. A short getaway, business/pleasure, sight-seeing, or an extended trip for any purpose all qualify. My vacation this summer has been an extended trip to visit family.
Our family live all over the North American continent. Christmas usually finds us at my house in Arizona. Everyone who can, comes to celebrate and to connect with one another. It’s an important aspect of being “family”. This year, I decided to spend a couple months going to see them where they live. It’s been wonderful, relaxing, busy, and enlightening to be with only one household at a time. I’m always amazed and proud of how my children live their lives. Their ability to achieve, solve problems, and maintain the life style of their choosing is remarkable. More importantly, we’re a family that cares about spending time with one another. I felt welcomed in each household.

A vacation allows one to get away from your homefront and examine your life from another perspective. A vacation is about change, a change in scenery, climate, values, and daily routines. It serves to make room for considering possibilities, new directions, what to let go of, and what to keep.

This vacation is serving that purpose for me. Renewed energy and ideas are motivating me, and directions for my continued commitment to the grieving community are taking shape. I also see some brand new endeavors on the horizon.

I need to take longer vacations more often. How about you?

Judy

Have You Written Your Will Yet?

July 19th, 2012 by judytalks

When my husband died at the age of 59, he didn’t have a will. Like so many of us, he thought he had pleny of time for end-of-life concerns. I had to go to probate court because we had minor children at home, and, because there was no will, handling all the legal and financial paperwork was a nightmare. Soon after, I had a will made and I began journaling. My journal became my first book, No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing.

Death education, end-of-life issues, and “grief talk” is unpleasant to most of us. But getting your affairs in order is a reasonable and considerate thing to do. Funeral directors have told me that the legal and financial paperwork is an overwhelming problem for most families and survivors. The shock and pain of loss is more than enough to handle. When the documents you need are nowhere to be found, it adds stress to already overburdened emotions.

Twenty-one years ago, when I became a widow, resources were scarce for the bereaved. Today there are books, articles, websites, and groups that are dedicated to helping with this difficult time. Those of us who are committed to the grieving community understand and offer comfort and support. Search the web, visit libraries and bookstores, and look up local groups. You and your loved ones have everything to gain from taking care of things – and them – now, so you can relax and feel confident that their mourning period will be devoted to personal and emotional needs, without the headaches of looking for papers.

My best wishes,
Judy

Families and In-Laws

June 27th, 2012 by judytalks

Robert Frost once said “Home is the place where, when you need to go there, they have to take you in”. Families can be a port in a storm or the last people you’d contact in a pinch. In-laws fit into this picture because they become part of the extended family.
Flying Solo, my Wednesday group that meets to share information and support, spent the last meeting discussing this very topic – families and in-laws. The range of ideas and opinions was large, with some memories that brought tears, and others that evoked anger and resentment.
Have you ever had a serious squabble with a family member or in-law? What were the points of view, and who took sides? How was it resolved, and did anyone win? Arguments can split family members, sometimes for years. This often happens when there’s a death in the family.
Comforting one another following a death is difficult. Everyone is grieving, and energy levels are low. When someone dies, each one grieves the person they lost, and though they may be related by blood or marriage, each loss is personal and individual. We miss who that persn was to us, and so we comfort on that basis. But a surviving spouse has different needs than a child, sibling, best friend, or co-worker.
Why do people do unkind and unjust things to one another? Often, the ego wins out over loyalty, fairness, and devotion. Lifelong hurts, painful memories, and notions of favoritism lie buried beneath the surface, ready to erupt when defenses are down. A death changes the whole family dynamic and threatens the security of “us”. Overlooking past debts, stepping aside for another to move ahead, or offering the last smidgen of dessert to the “baby” of the family no longer seems relevant. “I have to think of myself, my family, and my rights” becomes the mode of operation, and that comfort zone of knowing “they have to take you in” is diminished.
Practicing the concept of letting go can ease a hurtful situation. This approach is advised by both pratical and intuitive persons who have seen and perhaps experienced the ravages of painful resentment. It doesn’t condone and it doesn’t erase debt, but it does allow you to see everyone for who they really are, including yourself. We’re all in debt to someone, we can all give thanks. Try letting it go and breathe a sigh of relief.
Kindest regards,
Judy

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