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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

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 Time to Celebrate in a Time of Sorrow

December 7th, 2013 by judytalks

That time of year is here again. The Holidays are upon us, bringing excitement and chaos, memories and tears. The busyness of these weeks may keep our minds focused on the traditions we celebrate, but when bereavement accompanies you every day, there’s a dull ache that won’t go away. Friends and family want you to share in the joy of the holidays, and may flood you with places to go and things to do. Keeping the spirit alive is their goal and, though well-meant, they don’t understand that this year, and maybe for many years, a somber note clouds over the festivities.
How can you help yourself or someone else to celebrate your cherished traditions while mourning a loved one? Remember that this is your holiday to commemorate as you wish. It may not resemble anything you’ve done before, but you can establish new traditions, join others or be by yourself, or simply stroll through public places listening to the music and feeling the energy of people who are making merry. Decide ahead of time what you’ll do if sadness overtakes you, and make a list of gifts to give yourself this year. These gifts may include a cup of coffee and ice cream, an ornament for yourself or your loved one, a phone call to someone you haven’t talked to for a long time, or connecting with a neighborhood group distributing toys or food baskets.
The pain of loss will be with you for a long time, and missing your loved one may seem unbearable. If being with large groups is difficult, invite a few people who are close to you, serve simple food, and relax together. A sense of quiet peace and joy emerges from the gentle touch of those who truly comfort.
This may be a time of sorrow for others you know, and planning an outing might be the perfect solution for meeting and greeting, without having to answer endless questions of how you are doing. Plays and concerts are abundant and many are free or cost little. A chili supper and game night or dessert and coffee spread warmth around and nourish body and soul.
The need for comfort for yourself or a friend can occur anytime of the year, but the holidays are especially difficult. The gift of time and a listening ear are at the top of everyone’s list. Put on your Santa hat and feel the joy.
I wish you well,
Judy

December 24, 2012

December 24th, 2012 by judytalks

It’s the day before Christmas, all is quiet, and family plans for Skyping are being finalized. This is the first year ever that all or most of us are not together.

If you forgot to buy books this year, it’s not too late! Two informative, comforting paperbacks, No Time to Grieve and A Child’s Grief are available, as are two Kindle editions of timely information about Money. Getting Your Affairs in Order and It’s Your Money Take Charge of It are handy and affordable. Give yourself or someone else the gift of practical knowledge this Christmas. All are topics that affect our lives, and knowledge is golden.

Go to www.amazon.com/author/judystrong. The items are listed with prices and a short description.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Judy

Pain Management

November 13th, 2012 by judytalks

The pain of grief is hard to treat. There is no medicine, no magic wand that makes the hurt go away.

As the holidays approach, the fact of loss becomes more acute, and deciding what to do can boggle the mind. If you are in bereavement right now, do you have plans? Can you celebrate the holidays and still grieve your loved one?

Our Flying Solo group discussed a wide range of feelings and options. For some, it’s just getting through the day. This is especially hard the first few years, when celebrating is unthinkable. Those with family have mixed emotions. Being with loved ones is comforting, but also busy. Spending the day alone was first choice for some, though the day inevitably gets long and lonely.

For thanksgiving, some will come to my house for a traditional dinner. It will be relatively quiet and – Good Grief! – no football. Maybe we’ll play a game, maybe just talk.

Some ideas for you to consider:
If you’re invited but don’t want to stay long, just go for pie.
Invite someone to your house.
Invite a friend for a movie and dessert.
Make some traditional foods, enjoy, and have leftovers.
Spend some quiet time remembering the joy of celebrating with your loved one. It will be sad, but you’ll probably cry anyway. Write down the best memories and put them in your treasure chest of things worth keeping.

I wish you well,
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

The Gathering

December 22nd, 2011 by judytalks

Home for the Holidays is a familiar tradition that brings family members together to celebrate the holidays they hold dear. My family gathering begins today, as a couple of my grown children and spouse arrive for a few days of reconnecting and sharing memories, and catching up on the news. It’s amazing that conversations seem to pick up where they left off, and everyone takes comfort in being welcomed and appreciated.

The best family tradition is that of being together and keeping the activities simple. It’s a time to relax, laugh, and exchange the gift of mutual appreciation.

I hope your family gathering is joyous and satisfying.

A very happy holiday to you all,

Judy

Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2011 by judytalks

It’s Thanksgiving, the day to gather with family, friends, or quietly be alone to remember the good things in life. It’s hard to give thanks when there’s loss all around us, but the support of friends and the comfort of simplicity is something to celebrate.

Have a wonderful day.

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

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

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