We have a favorite book in the reception area of the funeral home, Tear Soup – A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen. Over the years, each copy becomes dog eared from all the hands that read it and each year or so we need to purchase a new one. I believe it has helped many people come to terms with the loss of their loved one. We frequently have families ask to continue sitting in the reception area while they finish the book.
The premise is simple and one we can all understand. Grandy has a loss, one that is too big for her to bear. She chooses a big pot for her loss and begins her recipe. With a big pot she will have plenty of room for all the memories, misgivings and feelings she needs to stew in the pot over time. Tear soup is a way for Grandy to sort through all the different types of feelings and memories she will have when she loses someone or something special.
Helpful ingredients to consider from Grandy’s recipe:
- a pot full of tears
- one heart willing to be broken open
- a dash of bitters
- a bunch of good friends
- many handfulls of comfort food
- a lot of patience
- buckets of water to replace the tears
- plenty of exercise
- a variety of helpful reading material
- enough self care
- season with memories
- optional; one good therapist and/or support group
It’s ok to increase the pot size if you miscalculated. Set the temperature for moderate heat. Cooking times will vary depending on the ingredients needed. Strong flavors mellow over time. Stir often. Cook no longer than you need to. Freeze some as a starter for next time.
You can visit http://www.griefwatch.com/tearsoup for ordering information, an easy to print recipe page and a link to the Tear Soup Tips page where you will find tips to assist friends, children and men as they make their own tear soup. *reprinted with permission from Grief Watch, copyright 2006.
Always remember – The only way to take grief out of death is to take love out of life – Shelle
The holidays are stressful: There are presents to be purchased, crowded stores, extra traffic, financial burdens and social obligations. While experiencing the death of a loved one, this seasonal stress can be greatly magnified.
Death brings about many changes that will affect the holidays. Perhaps your loved one always carved the turkey or was the voice of cheer at your celebrations. You will find that patterns and rituals will be different this holiday season. There will be an empty chair at the table. Holiday cards may not have their usual cheery message, and how do you sign them? Even if people think they have been “doing well” with the death, the holidays can reactivate their grief as they are forced to acknowledge the extent of their loss.
Here are some ideas that can help reduce the stress and ease some of the emotional pain this season may bring.
1. Slow down – you don’t have to go to every celebration, office party or family event. You definitely do not have to accomplish every single item that is normally on your holiday “to do” list. Do only what is special and meaningful to you.
2. Find someone safe to talk to – you need safe people who will listen and hear during this time. Choose supportive people to be around.
3. Tell the truth about your feelings – Its okay to express how you feel. When asked how you are doing, put it into words, “I’m feeling lonely right now” “I don’t feel like talking” “Today is a hard day for me” Its okay not to be okay.
4. Take care of yourself physically – drink plenty of water, get sleep and make healthy choices. It is important to keep your strength while grieving.
5. Lean on your faith – remember to touch base with your source of spirituality. It will bring you comfort and support during this time. Talk to others in your place of worship, ask them to keep you in their prayers. Being with a group of people who believe as you do can be very supportive.
6. Remember to remember– Acknowledge the person who died. Write them a card, get them a gift, light a candle, honor the relationship in your own special way.
7. Learn to say No! – Some people struggle with saying “No, I’m sorry, I just can do the party” or dinner or whatever, “this year.” If people are not listening when you say “no” be honest with them. See #3.
8. Pamper yourself – Take extra time for you. If you deplete your energy you will have less strenght to handle the days ahead. Take a bath, take a nap, go for a long walk. Just take time for you!
…and remember, The only way to take grief out of death is to take love out of life – Shelle
I read an article today by Kristan Dean. She asked what I was doing to help children in my community who are grieving. She’s right, there are so many children who are struggling with loss and heartache. It could be loss of a family member or friend, it could be loss of home because of family financial situations. Especially at the beginning of the holiday season, I think we should all be aware that the children in our life might need some extra attention. One way I can help is to make you aware of the services that are available for children. (more…)