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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

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

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

 

 

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
.

Recovery – Acknowledgement

June 9th, 2012 by judytalks

Whenever I Google the word Recovery I get websites about ships at the bottom of the ocean or addiction programs for rehab. The kind of recovery I write and talk about has to do with the loss of someone or something dear to you. It’s something irreplaceable that causes you deep grief and sadness.
When you lose something that can’t be replaced, there’s more than sadness. The range of emotions runs from anger and confusion to a sense that you’ve lost yourself. Nothing is the same, nor will it ever be.
Recovery takes time and it requires a choice on your part. The beginning of healing is the acknowledgement that life can and must go on. Until you reach that point, you may remain in a state of isolation from other things and people who were dear to you. Reconnecting is also painful, because it seems that you must let go of the person or thing you have lost. But, in reality, you take it with you, forever a keepsake you may revisit any time.

I wish you well,

Judy

Grief Support A Critical Need

February 19th, 2011 by judytalks

Saturday I completed a training program to become a grief facilitator at an excellent center for grieving children. All family members are included and program activties are specific for each age level, including adults. The center is for support, not therapy, and allows as many weeks/months as each family feels they need.

There are more centers, more grief groups, more books, and more programs today than were available ten or fifteen years ago. However, the grieving community remains a hugely underserved demographic in our society. Somehow, we fail to realize the fact of loss, which may include death, divorce, desertion, loss of homes, jobs, and financial security.

I write continually about this subject in books, articles, and my blog. My goal is to educate and inspire, and also to give practical information for dealing with the aspects of loss and bereavement.

The statistics surrounding incomplete healing from loss boggle the mind.

Physical illness
Mental illness
Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
Incarceration
Abuse
Inability to form healthy relationships
Inability to hold a job
The devastation to individuals, families, and society in general is enormous.

Finding information to become more aware and to learn basic skills in helping yourself or others may take a bit of research. If your community education program doesn’t include grief and recovery, ask for such a class. Senior centers, retirement communities, faith based facilities, and libraries all have ideal locations and space for such programs. Ask for them.

I’m a firm believer that death education should come before-not after- the fact. Death knocks on every door. Each person, every family needs and deserves simple understanding and preparation in the event of a tragedy. It’s a starting point, certainly not complete, but is foundational to healthier mourning and a sense of healing.

As always, I wish you well.
Judy

A Sober Look at the Faces of Death

January 9th, 2011 by judytalks

The New Year has begun and my goals and plans are made for new business ventures and writing opportunities. I decided to blog today because I had neglected this enjoyable way of communicating, as busyness crowded my time during the holidays. Christmas, for me, is filled with joy and happiness that comes from the closeness of family and friends.

I signed on to the internet and, there, in bold headlines was the shocking news of a shooting in Tucson, in which a congresswoman had been shot in the head. In all, 18 people were hit, 6 were dead, and the gunman apprehended.

I don’t report news of this kind, as a rule. I tell people of the sadness and despair that follows the death of a loved one, regardless of the circumstances. My concern and expertise are tied to emotional upheaval and the need to put a loved one to rest. Comfort and healing are the necessary ingredients for survivors when a life is lost.

As I listened to the news reports, the tears came and a deep feeling of sadness enveloped me. My childhood was spent in a small town, and at a time, when shootings, street violence, and random killings were not frequent occasions. The people who lost loved ones today will need support and comfort for a long time. Those who were injured may be traumatized for many years.

Regardless of how a death occurs, there are warm, loving, and effective means for helping the bereaved.
Listen.
Affirm their feelings.
Spend time with them, preferably in person, but otherwise, by phone.
Assure them that you care and can be counted on for support.
Plan short activities out and about that are relaxing.

My personal goal for 2011 is to stay strong and give more.
My business goal for 2011 is to learn more and reach more.

Here goes, New Year!
Cheers to everyone.
Judy

The Season of Giving

December 9th, 2010 by judytalks

Holidays are a time to celebrate, to spread good cheer, prepare special dishes, and give gifts to those we love.
For the past week, I’ve been decorating the house, putting up the tree, and taking my holiday treasures out of their boxes. I have decorative things I made, that were given me, or some I simply bought because it appealed to me. Most of my things, though, are hand made. They get a little the worse for wear after many years, so they are wrapped in tissue or towels from holiday to holiday.
But no matter what general condition an item may be in, the real value lies in the memories it evokes. Where did it come from, how long ago, and what people and occasions are brought to mind?
Some things have sad memories attached to them, things received in a year of stress or the death of a loved one. There may be mourning during the holidays, no matter how festive your home or how special the holiday you’re celebrating.
For people newly bereaved, spreading joy may seem impossible. Let others do the honors, while you lovingly share poignant memories of happy times and past celebrations with your loved one. This may serve as a reminder to others, to cherish the time we have together and keep those treasures safe from too much wear and tear.

Happy Holidays,
Judy

The Art of Listening

April 13th, 2010 by judytalks

Some people are born listeners. Others have to work at it. The good listener may or may not be a quiet, intuitive person, but to be a good listener, one has to be interested in the person who is talking.
I often talk here about grief and loss because those are the subjects I write and teach about. The art of listening in regard to those subjects has a high impact.
My last blog post dealt with the importance of giving consistent comfort to a grieving friend or family member. It included the fact of being a good listener. Here are some tips for listening if you happen to be one of those people who has to work a bit at it.

Ask a question and then stop talking. Don’t answer your own question.

Concentrate on the speaker. Lean forward, focus on that person’s face, and shut out surrounding distractions.

Encourage the speaker by nodding your head and affirming what they are saying. Reserve comments until they are finished. It may take awhile for a grieving or distressed person to “get it all out”, but the purpose of listening is just that. To lend your time and attention to the task of expression for someone you care about.

Practice listening and see if it doesn’t improve relationships, whether the situation involves a stressful situation or not. And if it does, be assured that you have offered a rare gift to someone in need. Simply listening gives immeasurable comfort in times of sadness and pain. It says,”Even though I can’t change how you feel, I care.”
Give someone your silent devotion.

Judy

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