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Intangible Gifts

November 29th, 2015 by judytalks

Free gifts Are Especially Nice At Christmas

The brain-wracking task of what to get people at Christmas puts everyone in a bad mood.

Something practical or something pretty. What did they get last year? How about a gift card?

Maybe a fantastic dinner and a show.

There’s a way out of this dilemma.

There are some gifts that can be given any time for any reason. They’re free and are generally appreciated by everyone who receives them. They are the intangible gifts, the giving of those things that have no price tag, and can be given anytime.

These gifts are appreciated whenever they are given, but are especially nice to give to someone who is grieving and in deep need of heartfelt and loving consideration.

Holidays aren’t happy, exciting affairs when you’re mourning. There’s no feeling of joy, no urge to celebrate with friends or family. There’s often lingering pain and a sense of isolation that accompanies mourning, especially when all around you are celebrating and you feel sad. It’s just a period of time to get through and move on.

When someone you care about is in bereavement, here are 5 intangible gifts that may be given over and over, any time of the year, and are always joyfully received.

  1. Give your time
  2. Give your energy
  3. Give your ideas
  4. Give your support
  5. Give your love

How can these precious gifts be given?

First, stay close-by. Grievers feel isolated and unsociable. Drop by, phone, email or text regularly, just to say hi.

Be a good listener. Often, well-meaning friends want to give advice. But careful listening gives the other person a chance to say what’s really on their mind.

Extend invitations to gatherings and offer to pick them up.

Run errands together. Trips to the grocery store, library, dry cleaners, pharmacy or bank can include a quick stop for lunch or coffee.

Plan an afternoon for baking, wrapping gifts, or doing some decorating together.

Talk about the person who died. If you knew and miss that person, say so.

Suggest a small memory item for the holiday they celebrate, such as a tree ornament or a donation in the deceased person’s name.

Again, stay close and in touch. All the intangible gifts can be given over and over again.

 

For more tips and ideas about grief at holiday time, or just in general, click on the Articles tab.

Stay well,

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

 

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

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

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

Grief Lasts a Lifetime

August 18th, 2014 by judytalks

Understanding the critical aspects is essential for healing and moving forward. You do not get over grief, you come to terms with it. I want to share with you some meaningful tips that will help you as you learn to turn sorrow into gratitude. These heartfelt tips will address critical aspects of grief events and lay out a logical process for moving forward.

Todays tip:  Acknowledge the deep sadness and fatigue you may be feeling.

Your mind and body can’t handle all that is happening to you. Find a quiet place to gently breathe life back into your soul.

These tips will be posted regularly to give you insight and clarity for the period of bereavement. A quiet time each day helps with focusing on the difficult task of mourning. Your grief is about you, not just the loved one you have lost.

Let me know how things are going. I encourage comments, questions, and just touching base. I wish you well.

Judy

 

 

How I’m Thriving

August 7th, 2014 by judytalks

I recently published an e-book on Kindle entitled From Surviving to Thriving Finding Comfort Following Loss. I became a survivor in January, 1991, when my husband of 27 years died.  I remember the pain and confusion of those early weeks and months when I wondered if my family and I would survive at all. I began journaling and have continued to write about the fact of grief and bereavement.

We did survive. In fact, we have all thrived. My four children are independent, productive and thoughtful people. I have managed to rise to the cause and make a good and satisfying life for myself. That’s where the thriving comes in. Grief and loss change everything. Feeling powerless, bewildered, and afraid, grievers look to everyone and everything for comfort and support. We search for answers to tough questions, and ways and means for moving out of darkness and back into the light of day.

You will never be completely free of the fears of survivorship. You will never be completely pain-free. But you can take back power over your own life and build a new life, by design, not accident. I am thriving today by doing things that I love – creative writing, quilting, spending time with family, and interacting with others who are in transition from surviving to thriving. Comfort and ideas come from unexpected places.

Gratitude is a great healer. I keep a journal for recording those things, people, and happenings for which I am grateful.  May you find what you seek today and begin or continue your own journey toward peace.

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

Death Education and the School of Hard Knocks

March 18th, 2014 by judytalks

As I look through my blogs and articles material, I realize I’ve covered many aspects of grief and loss. I began writing about grief following the death of my husband. My first book, No Time to Grieve A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing, was taken from my journal, and documented the struggle I experienced finding answers and support. A Child’s Grief Surviving the Death of a Parent, resulted from personal experience – my own and others – and general research. I began giving seminars, writing articles, and doing radio interviews shortly after, and have gathered considerable information on this important aspect of life.
In our society, death education usually comes after the fact. Though there are classes on various topics concerning dying and bereavement, most of us learn how to help ourselves and others the hard way – through personal experience, when emotions are out of bounds and cognitive abilities are diminished. It doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s safe to say nearly everyone will face the death of a loved one and need comfort and support. We also find ourselves in a position of wanting and needing to help someone else to cope with a loss. As a writer and educator, I love to teach. My website displays my books with a synopsis you may read. My blog appears there and on Authors Den and Good Reads. My articles may be read on the website and also on www.ezinearticles.com and www.scribd.com. If you haven’t checked them out, please be my guest.
My current writing project is in full swing. Longer articles and little e-books are in the making and will appear on Kindle. More informative, these additions to my teaching tools will give you the knowledge you need when you want to reach out with comfort and support to a grieving friend. You don’t need a Kindle to read them. For $0.99, they can be downloaded and read on your computer, or printed out.
My work as a grief facilitator with children and the Flying Solo group I started for adults has taught me the importance of giving clear, honest, reliable tools for everyday use. Death knocks on every door, and when it does, a solid foundation for healing begins with confidence and knowledge. Whether you need comfort for yourself or for a friend, your death education can begin now.
I wish you well,
Judy

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

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