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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

 

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

From Deepest Pain to Gratitude

April 22nd, 2015 by judytalks

The shock of immediate loss brings deep, relentless pain for which there is no solace. The comfort and support of friends and family gives only temporary relief, and then the sharp pangs of loss and sadness begin all over.

In the beginning, it’s impossible to even imagine that one day there will be a sliver of gratitude in this awfulness. For what could you possibly be grateful?

Healing begins in both the heart and the mind. The idea of being without that necessary person is unthinkable. The outpouring of love and devotion from one heart to another stops for lack of a destination.

You are alone, overwhelmed with the knowledge that someone you love is physically gone, and yet seems so very present in your life. How do you hold on to that comforting sense of presence, when your mind assures you that it simply isn’t true?

A quiet time each day allows you to remember all the emotions, each important event, the everyday conversations, and the unspoken bond that ties you together. Writing down whatever you wish – memories, feelings, future plans, and special times that only you two shared – becomes the foundation of gratitude.

Each part became a measure of support in your life together, and the sum total of all parts is the whole relationship you created. This can’t be destroyed. It remains a part of who you are. For this, you can be grateful.

Have a quiet time every day. Structure it any way you like. Remember to include one thoughtful and heart-warming gratitude for who you are because of that incredible person, whose face you can see and whose laughter you can hear.

You’ll know you are healing when the pain begins to subside and you can smile when you think of your loved one.

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

 

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
.

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

The Year In Review

January 11th, 2012 by judytalks

I looked back over my posts of the past year and realized I set some important goals, particularly about learning and giving more. I have certainly learned much in 2011, not just about the grieving community, but about managing loss in whatever size and shape it appears.

Loss and change are household words for almost everyone. They characterized America, challenged problem-solving skills, and drove fear into the hearts of all ages.

My family was certainly not spared, but we have not only survived, but begun to thrive in some important areas of life. No, no one’s making a lot of money, but we supported, commiserated, and advised one another as the economic axe fell a few times.

I’m old enough to know that life’s a bumpy road, so you better have a strong stomach. What inspires me is the growth of neighborliness, the determination to reinvent the wheel, and the charm of people laughing at what is clearly a headache in their daily lives.

I wrote a great deal in 2011, including Kindle downloads, articles, blog posts, and outlines for more of the same. The grieving community is looking for information to understand and ease the pain of losses of all kinds. I hope to continue meeting those needs.

Learn More Write More Give More
It connects and fulfills.

To a satisfying New Year,
Judy

The Lessons of Loss

May 18th, 2011 by judytalks

The past few years have made loss a household word. The pain of losing homes, jobs, funds, along with our self esteem and sense of place in the world is grievous. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been a victim. When everyone is struggling just to maintain basic necessities, it’s hard to find anyone who can help.

The truth is, though, that when everyone is experiencing the same calamity, there is support that yields hope and a sense of connecting.

It’s pointless to ask who did this to us. The real question is, “What will rise out of the ashes?”

Within my own family, friends and neighbors I see despair, anger, sadness, but also a determined drive not to be defeated. A new set of values is emerging, a fresh look at the word “career”, and a relaxed attitude toward self concept and who decides what and where our place is in the world.

I have a renewed sense of confidence that younger people will reinvent this socioeconomic construct in which we live, and it will be inclusive, open ended, and fluid. Though I’m a grandmother, I have every intention of sticking around to see it happen, if it takes a hundred years.

As always,
Judy

Opportunity to Connect

January 18th, 2011 by judytalks

I’m always looking for ways to connect with people of all and any ages to share grief experiences. A few months ago I discovered a wonderful opportunity to work with children who are mourning the death of a loved one.

New Song Center for Grieving Children offers a training program to become a grief facilitator, and I will begin training this Saturday. I am eagerly anticipating this new venture in my life. Working with young children has been a source of great joy for me, as a preschool teacher and as a volunteer in a variety of organizations. I am looking forward to this opportunity to again connect with youngsters.

The subject of grief is ongoing in our society. Though the immediate impact of the violence in Tucson has begun to subside, the pain, grief, and adjustment have just begun. No one is ever the same after such trauma. We can learn how to help one another, whether friend, family or stranger.

Listen, really listen when someone expresses feelings or ideas.
Comfort by acknowledging their situation.
Support by helping with simple, everyday things.

Follow my new venture with New Song. I’ll post often.

I wish you well.
Judy

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