Grief Resources Expanded
What To Expect:
COMMON REACTIONS TO GRIEF – Learn about physical, emotional and spiritual responses you might be experiencing. Grieving takes time, it can’t be hurried. Just as it takes time for broken bones to heal, it takes time for broken hearts and spirits to heal.
WHEN YOU ARE GRIEVING – Some specific things you can do to cope.
IDEAS FOR WRITING – You might find it helpful to “sort out” your thoughts by writing a letter to the person who died. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
CHILDREN – A reference sheet from good-grief.org with ideas to help you talk with and understand a child who is mourning.
Local Grief Resources
FLETCHER COUNSELING www.fletcher-counseling-vancouver.com
Tom and Anita Fletcher specialize in grief therapy. They offer individual sessions along with group and couples counseling. They are located at 201 NE Park Plaza Drive, Vancouver, WA 98684 and their phone number is 360-524-5879.
GRIEF SHARE http://www.griefshare.org
This website lists several grief therapy groups in the area.
THE DOUGY CENTER http://www.dougy.org
3909 SE 52nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97206, 503-775-5683 Provides peer support groups for children/teens from 3-18 years of age and their families, as well as young adults 19-30. They provide no private therapy or counseling. Participants meet others who also have experienced the death of a parent, primary caretaker, brother, sister or teen friend because of illness, accident, suicide or homicide. This is a link to their frequently asked questions page.
GRIEF WATCH http://www.griefwatch.com
2116 NE 18th Portland, OR 97212 503-284-7426 Resources for bereaved families and professional caregivers. The Grief Watch site was created to provide you with bereavement resources, memorial products and links that can help you through your personal loss. It also serves as an excellent educational tool for all who travel down the road of grief. Located in Portland Oregon
TRAUMA INTERVENTION PROGRAMS http://www.tipnw.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=54&Itemid=68 4800 NE 122nd Ave, Portland Oregon 503-640-7997 or 360-690-9047 immediate assistance numbers Trauma Intervention Programs, Inc. (TIP) is a national voluntary nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that those who are emotionally traumatized in emergency situations receive the assistance they need. To accomplish that goal, TIP Inc. works closely with local communities to establish emergency services volunteer programs. In these programs, well-trained citizen volunteers are called to emergency scenes to assist family members, witnesses, and other bystanders who the emergency system often must leave behind. TIP of Portland/Vancouver, Inc. serves Multnomah, Clark and Clackamas Counties, including their newest expansion into Sandy, OR. They have served citizens in our local communities for over sixteen years. This is the link to their victim resources page. It has 27 downloadable .pdf files about various topics ranging from Common Reactions Following a Traumatic Event to Coping with the Loss of a Pet.
This is a great resource for free grief and healing classes. It is a group atmosphere and classes are always available.
General Grief Resources
OREGON HOSPICE ORGANIZATION http://www.oregonhospice.org/endoflifecare.htm Hospice is a philosophy of compassionate and comprehensive care for dying persons and their families that addresses the medical, psychosocial, spiritual and practical needs of the individual and the related needs of the family and loved ones throughout the periods of illness and bereavement. This is a link to their frequently asked questions page.
GOOD GRIEF RESOURCES http://www.good-grief.org/resources.html Good Grief is always here to help. Whether you are grieving or wishing to support someone in grief, they have compiled resources, tips and recommended reading that we think you will find useful.
GRIEFNET.ORG http://griefnet.org/support/sg2.html Over 50 support groups. Members participate when they wish and are able to, not at a set time. When one member of a group sends an email message to the group, everyone in the group receives a copy. This allows many people to respond with love and caring to the thoughts and feelings of an individual, day and night, year-round. Since 1994 these groups have helped thousands of people around the world deal safely with their grief. They also have an extensive list of grief reading resources by category.
AARP.ORG – Life After Loss http://www.aarp.org/family/lifeafterloss/ Helpful information on various topics of interest to baby boomers. These include, but are not limited to, articles on Advance Directives, Saying Good-bye to Parents, an extensive poetry section, Guide for the newly widowed and a Support Group: Death of a Spouse.
T.A.P.S http://www.taps.org/ Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. America’s frontline resource for all who are grieving the death of a loved one serving our country.
SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE http://www.survivorsofsuicide.com/help_heal.shtml
An independently owned and operated website which is not associated with any specific group, organization, or religious affiliation. The purpose of the Survivors Of Suicide website is to help those who have lost a loved one to suicide resolve their grief and pain in their own personal way.
Children and Grief
G.R.A.S.P http://www.grasphelp.org An excellent resource for families or individuals who have lost a loved one as a result of substance abuse or addiction.
HOSPICE SUPPORT CARE http://www.hospicesupportcare.org/help_children.html Several helpful downloads of games, activities, and information to help a child with grief and bereavement issues – in .pdf format
THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS http://www.tcfportland.org/ Portland, Oregon Chapter – A non-profit self-help organization supporting family after a child dies. Offering Hope, Understanding & Support. Check their website for meeting locations, special events and grief resources.
BROKEN HEARTS, LIVING HOPE http://brokenheartslivinghope.com/
A free monthly newsletter to anyone who requests it. The newsletter contains personal stories submitted by readers, poetry, helpful articles pertaining to child loss and grief recovery, contact information for available support groups, Internet and print resources, and the opportunity to network with other parents.
Books We Like:
This is a small sampling of books that we think might be useful for you. We hope you will find words to help you during this difficult time. We welcome your additions and comments.
Preschool to Early School Age
WHERE’S JESS? – by J. Johnson – In this picture book, a mother and father answer in simple and comforting ways a young child’s questions about death and the death of their new baby.
ABOUT DYING – An Open Book for Parents and Children Together, by Sara Stein – This book teaches about death, funerals, burial, and remembering by telling the story of two siblings who experience the death of a pet bird, and who later experience the death of their grandfather. It also features text for parents to help them deal with questions and issues children may have.
THE EMPTY PLACE – A Child’s Guide through Grief, by Roberta Temes In this book, a young boy talks about how empty he feels since his sister died and talks with a baby sitter who had a similar experience. It touches on guilt, lack of interest in old activities, and changes in parental behavior.
I HAD A FRIEND NAMED PETER – Talking to Children about the Death of a friend, by Janice Cohn
THE DEAD BIRD – by Margaret Brown
WHEN DINOSAURS DIE – A Guide to Understanding Death, by Laurie Brown
WATERBUGS AND DRAGONFLIES – Explaining Death to Young Children, by Doris Stickney
Preschool to School Age
SAD ISN’T BAD – A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss, by Michaelene Mundy. About the death of a grandparent.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT KOKO BEAR – A Read Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce, by Vicki Lansky – Great for children ages 3-7 who are experiencing a divorce in their family
THE FALL OF FREDDIE THE LEAF – by Leo Buscaglia This book shows the seasons of life using the story of Freddie the Leaf, who falls from the tree in autumn. It explains that leaves do not come back to life and that death is not the same as sleep.
THUMPY’S STORY – A Story of Love and Grief Shared by Thumpy, the Bunny, by N. Dodge – This book tells a simple story with soft, expressive illustrations of two rabbit parents who help their surviving child by dealing sensitively with fears and questions. It is designed to help children and parents express their own grief, and is available as a coloring book and a workbook in which the child can write and draw.
LIFETIMES – A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen – This book talks about the various lengths of life spans for plants, animals, and people and says that dying is very much a part of living. It explains that there is a beginning and an end with living in between, and that sometimes things are too hurt or ill to continue living, so they die.
THE TENTH GOOD THING ABOUT BARNEY – by Judith Viorst -This book tells the story of a cat who dies and is buried. The child and father discuss heaven, and later they plant seeds in the garden. The father explains that Barney will become part of the ground and help plants grow, which they decide is a pretty good job for a cat.
I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT BY JEANIE FRANZ – A story about divorce for young children
DINOSAURS DIVORCE – A Guide for Changing Families by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown – Help children to understand divorce and all the other changes that go along with it.
TODAY MY SISTER DIED – by Ronee Domske This is a story narrated by an older sister who lost a 3 and 1/2-year-old sister in an accident. She shows how to deal with things by discussing her relationships with her brother and parents, and by exploring the feelings that come about during funeral planning, holidays, doing things with friends, getting a family picture taken, and remembering.
THE MAGIC MOTH – by V. Lee This book tells the story of a 10-year-old girl with a heart defect and the impact her death has on her family. It is told from the perspective of her six-year-old brother, describing with compassion and realism his thoughts, feelings, anger, questions, uncertainties, and confusion.
CHILDREN ARE NOT PAPER DOLLS – by E. Levy This book tells about the wide variety of reactions and feeling from children who have lost a sibling. Pictures, poems, and quotes from bereaved siblings look at funerals, families, friends, school, holidays, and feelings.
MY TWIN SISTER ERIKA – by I. Voge (Harper and Row, 1976) School age. This story expresses the feelings of love and rivalry between twin sisters and the strong feelings of loss when one dies.
AARVY AARDVARK FINDS HOPE – by Donna O’Toole School age. In this book, Aarvy the Aardvark is befriended by Ralphy Rabbit, who helps Aarvy work through stages of grief by telling him about how he felt when his sister died.
THE OLD DOG – by Sara Abbott
NANNA – by Jennifer Bartoli
WHEN PEOPLE DIE – by Joanne Bernstein and Stephen Gullo
ABOUT DYING – by Sara Bonnett Stein
Late School Age to Adolescent
BEAT THE TURTLE DRUM – by C. Green This book tells the story of two sisters who are great friends and the anger, guilt, and sadness one of them feels when the other is suddenly killed by an accidental fall from a tree.
BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA – Katherine Paterson
HOW IT FEELS WHEN A PARENT DIES – by Jill Krementz
TO HELL WITH DYING – by Alice Walker
SEASON OF DISCOVERY – by Gloria Gldreich
BUBBA, ME AND MEMORIES – by Barbara Pomerantz
THE HAPPY FUNERAL – by Eve Bunting
FIRST SNOW – by Helen Coutant
THE MOUNTAINS OF TIBET – by Mordicai Gerstein
STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT DEATH FOR TEENAGERS – How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love, by E. Grollman This book speaks to teens in a way that acknowledges their feelings, promotes discussion and offers hope.
WHEN A FRIEND DIES – A Book for Teens about Grieving and Healing by Marilyn Gootman
LOSING SOMEONE YOU LOVE – When a Brother or Sister Dies, by E. Richter In this book, 15 young people who have lost a brother or sister share their grief experiences. With honesty and courage, they talk openly about how the death occurred, their feelings, and their difficulties adjusting at home and at school.
ANGEL CATCHER – A Journal of Loss and Remembrance, by Kathy and Amy Eldon – A unique and sensitive guide designed to help teens overcome the loss of a loved one. Helps one to celebrate the life of a loved one. A place to write, draw and place photos to capture memories.
FACING CHANGE – Falling Apart and Coming Together Again in the Teen Years, by Donna O’Toole
SAY GOODNIGHT – Gracie, By Julie Deaver
SHIRA – A legacy of Courage, by Earl Grollman
TIGER EYES – by Judy Blume
We have collected the Hospice contacts for Clackamas, Clark, Clatsop, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Wasco and Washington counties. Separated by city for easy look-up.
ASTORIA – LOWER COLUMBIA HOSPICE 2111 Exchange Street, Astoria, Oregon 97103 Tel: (503)338-6230 Fax: (503)338-6240 E-Mail: Sheila_Dyer@columbiamemorial.org Parent Organization: Columbia Memorial Hospital Counties Served: Clatsop
BEAVERTON – ODYSSEY HEALTHCARE OF PORTLAND & SALEM 8625 SW Cascade Ave. #500, Beaverton, Oregon 97008 Tel: (503)574-2900 Fax: (503)574-4250 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com Website: www.odsyhealth.com Parent Organization: Odyssey HealthCare Operating A, LP Counties Served: Columbia, Yamhill, Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas, Marion
BEAVERTON – PROVIDENCE ST. VINCENT HOSPICE & PALLIATIVE CARE 3601 SW Murray Blvd., Suite 40, Beaverton, Oregon 97005 Tel: (503)215-CARE(2273) Fax: (503)574-9480 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Bryan.Stewart@providence.org Parent Organization: Providence Health and Services Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia, Washington, Marion, Yamhill
BEAVERTON – SIGNATURE HOSPICE HOUSE 7100 SW Scholls Ferry Rd, Beaverton, OR 97008 Tel: (800)936-4756 Fax: (503)682-3989 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.signaturehospice.com Parent Organization: Signature Hospice, LLC Counties Served: Clackamas, Columbia, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, Yamhill
HILLSBORO – HOSPICE & PALLIATIVE CARE OF WASHINGTON COUNTY 900 SE Oak St., #202, Hillsboro, Oregon 97123 Tel: (503)648-9565 Fax: (503)648-1282 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Parent Organization: Self Counties Served: Washington, Yamhill
HOOD RIVER – HEART OF HOSPICE 1020 Wasco St. Ste. C, Hood River, Oregon 97031 Tel: (541)386-1942 Fax: (541)386-1728 E-Mail: email@example.com Parent Organization: Self Counties Served: Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, Hood River
HOOD RIVER – HOSPICE OF THE GORGE 1630 Woods Ct. Hood River, Oregon 97031 Tel: (541)387-6449 Fax: (541)386-6700 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Parent Organization: Hospice of The Gorge, Inc. Counties Served: Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Sherman, Wasco, Wheeler; Klickitat, Skamania
LONGVIEW – COMMUNITY HOME HEALTH & HOSPICE Post Office Box 2067, Longview, Washington 98632-8189 Tel: (360)425-8510 Fax: (360)425-4667 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.chhh.org Parent Organization: Self Counties Served: Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum (Washington); Columbia (Oregon)
McMINNVILLE – LEGACY HOSPICE 2275 NE McDaniel Lane, McMinnville, Oregon 97128-3226 Tel: (800)361-8506 Fax: (503)434-9052 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.lhs.org Parent Organization: Legacy Health System Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas
OREGON CITY – WILLAMETTE FALLS HOSPICE 1505 Division Street, Oregon City, Oregon 97045 Tel: (503)655-7581 Fax: (503)655-7585 E-Mail: email@example.com Parent Organization: Willamette Falls Hospital Counties Served: Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington
PORTLAND – ADVENTIST HEALTH HOSPICE 5835 NE 122nd Ave, #135, Portland, Oregon 97230 Tel: (503)251-6192 Fax: (503)261-6080 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Parent Organization: Adventist Health NW Counties Served: Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington
PORTLAND – HOUSECALL PROVIDERS 4531 SE Belmont #250, Portland, OR 97215 Tel: (503)988-5303 Fax: (503)988-5112 E-Mail: email@example.com Parent Organization: Counties Served: Multnomah
PORTLAND – HOSPICE CARE OF THE NORTHWEST 1500 NE Irving, Ste. 200, Portland, OR 97232 Tel: (877)263-7776 Fax: (877)263-7778 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hospicecarenw.com Parent Organization: Hospice Care of the Northwest Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Polk, Linn, Marion, Yamhill
PORTLAND – KAISER PERMANENTE CONTINUING CARE SERVICES HOSPICE 2701 NW Vaughn, Portland, Oregon 97210-5344 Tel: (503)499-5200 Fax: (503)499-5213 E-Mail: Pamela.R.Matthews@kp.org Website: www.kaiserpermanente.org Parent Organization: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the NW Counties Served: Clackamas, Washington, Multnomah, Yamhill; Clark (Washington)
PORTLAND – LEGACY HOPEWELL HOUSE HOSPICE 6171 SW Capitol Highway, Portland, Oregon 97239 Tel: (503)244-7890 Fax: (503)245-1591 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.lhs.org Parent Organization: Legacy Health System Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas
PORTLAND – LEGACY HOSPICE SERVICES 815 NE Davis, Portland, Oregon 97232 Tel: (503)220-1000 Fax: (503)225-6343 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.lhs.org Parent Organization: Legacy Health System Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia, Washington, Yamhill, Marion, Polk
PORTLAND – PORTLAND VA MEDICAL CENTER Community Health Office Post Office Box 1035 (V-3HBPC), Portland, Oregon 97207 Tel: (503)220-8262 X33813 Fax: (360)905-1742 E-Mail: email@example.com Counties Served: All
PORTLAND – PROVIDENCE MEDICAL CENTER HOSPICE & PALLIATIVE CARE 6410 NE Halsey, #300, Portland, Oregon 97213 Tel: (503)215-CARE(2273) Fax: (503)215-4624 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Bryan.Stewart@providence.org Website: www.providence.org Parent Organization: Providence Health and Services Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia, Washington, Marion, Yamhill
PORTLAND – SERENITY PALLIATIVE CARE & HOSPICE 6975 SW Sandburg Street Ste. #200, Portland, OR 97223 Tel: (503)639-0600 Fax: (503)639-0699 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.serenityhospice.org Parent Organization: Self Counties Served:
SALEM – HOSPICE CARE OF THE NORTHWEST 1661 Edgewater NW, Ste. 200, Salem, OR 97304 Tel: (503)485-0840 Fax: (503)399-0760 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hospicecarenw.com Parent Organization: Hospice Care of the Northwest Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Polk, Linn, Marion, Yamhill
SALEM – ODYSSEY HEALTHCARE OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST 707 13th St. SE Salem, Oregon 97301 Tel: (503)315-1003 Fax: (503)315-1007 E-Mail: Portland_Management@odsyhealth.com Parent Organization: Odyssey HealthCare Operating A, LC Counties Served: Marion
SALEM – WILLAMETTE VALLEY HOSPICE 1015 3rd NW Salem, Oregon 97304 Tel: (503)588-3600 Fax: (503)363-3891 E-Mail: lindaD@wvh.org Parent Organization: Self Counties Served: Marion, Polk, Benton, Clackamas, Lane, Yamhill
SANDY – MT. HOOD HOSPICE PO Box 1269, Sandy, Oregon 97055 Tel: (503)668-5545 Fax: (503)668-7951 E-Mail: email@example.com Website:www.mthoodhospice.com Parent Organization: Self Counties Served: Multnomah, Clackamas, Hood River
THE DALLES – HOSPICE OF THE GORGE 751 Myrtle Street, The Dalles, Oregon 97058 Tel: (541)296-3228 Fax: (541)298-1807 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Parent Organization: Hospice of The Gorge, Inc. Counties Served: Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Sherman, Wasco,
TIGARD – SIGNATURE HOSPICE 7070 SW Fir Loop, Tigard, Oregon 97223 Tel: (800)936-4756 Fax: (503)682-3989 E-Mail: email@example.com Website:www.signaturehospice.com Parent Organization: Signature Hospice, LLC Counties Served: Clackamas, Columbia, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, Yamhill Wheeler; Klickitat, Skamania
VANCOUVER – COMMUNITY HOME HEALTH & HOSPICE 14508 NE 20th Ave. Suite 201, Vancouver, Washington 98686-6453 Tel: (360)253-4626 Fax: (360)253-4859 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.chhh.org Parent Organization: Self Counties Served: Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum (Washington); Columbia (Oregon)
VANCOUVER – HOSPICE SOUTHWEST PO Box 1600 Vancouver, Washington 98668 Tel: (360)696-5100 Fax: (360)696-5038 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.swmedicalcenter.com Parent Organization: Southwest Washington Medical Center Counties Served: Clark, South Cowlitz, Skamania (WA)
WILSONVILLE – SIGNATURE HOSPICE 25117 SW Parkway, Suite F, Wilsonville, Oregon 97070 Tel: (800)936-4756 Fax: (503)682-3989 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.signaturehospice.com Parent Organization: Signature Hospice, LLC Counties Served: Clackamas, Columbia, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, Yamhill
- Talk about the loss with the child and tell the truth when questions are asked. Follow the child’s lead.
- Listen, listen, listen….and listen some more. To children’s words, actions, behavior and play.
- Encourage the expression of feelings of grief (sadness, anger, relief, confusion, guilt) through talk, journaling, play, arts and crafts, physical activity.
- Be honest–saying, “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand, either” is an appropriate response if it’s honest—asking them what they think is appropriate as well.
- Allow for questions dealing with loss. For example, in a classroom, a teacher may choose an appropriate time for incorporating the topic of grief and loss or a specific question/answer period.
- Use the child’s appropriate level of vocabulary to help him articulate feelings and thoughts about the loss.
- Use clear, concrete language – words like “dead, death, dying,” rather than euphemisms when talking about those topics.
- When discussing death and loss with children, make explanations simple and direct (e.g.” When someone dies that means their body is no longer working. Their heart stops beating. They no longer need to eat or sleep, and they feel no pain or discomfort. They don’t need their bodies any longer. It means we will not see them as we were able to before.”)
- Share you own experience with a similar loss at their age if applicable and appropriate, with a focus on how you coped.
- Use the losses children experience as “teachable” moments (e.g., the death of a class fish or hamster, the wilting of the plants in the garden or part of a science project in class, characters in reading who are ill or have died, current events.)
- Be mindful of “special days” – children can make a memory card on mother’s day or father’s day card or make a card for a special adult in their life. They can write a letter to the person they have lost on the anniversary of the death or person’s birthday, etc.
- Discuss with the child’s school to allow the child to leave the room and take breaks when needed and permit a call home if he or she is anxious about a surviving parent or family member.
- Encourage the child to write, journal or draw about what happened.
- Encourage the presence of reminders & mementos the child can keep with them or in their locker. Encourage the child to make a memory box or book
- Make referrals to outside support people (counselors, peer support groups) and learn about grief yourself – read books, attend workshops, join a support group.
- Think deeply about losses in your own life. Allow yourself to mourn your losses.
- Encourage your child’s schools to offer grief education workshops for its staff and teachers – such as Good Grief’s “Conversations on Grief: Lessons on Loss from the Classroom of Life” workshop series.
© 2007 Good Grief, Inc.
Common Reactions To Grief
Grief causes tremendous turmoil in every aspect of life and involves a wide range of physical, emotional, and spiritual responses. You may find yourself overwhelmed and frightened by the feelings, thoughts and emotions. Any of the following can be characteristic – and are normal!!
Grief can cause physical symptoms. Your body “feels” the emotional loss.
Knot in Stomach Changes in appetite Tightness or lump in throat Frequent sighing Shortness of breath Tightness in chest Fatigue and lack of energy Unrelieved by sleep Muscle Weakness Dry Mouth Nausea, Diarrhea, Indigestion Feeling “hollow” or “emptied out” Feeling weak or faint Headaches General Achiness Oversensitivity to noise
Being immobilized, unable to act Restless over activity (unable to sit still or stay with a task) Sleeplessness or oversleeping Forgetfulness Unable to begin and maintain normal daily activity Lack of motivation or energy Crying, sobbing (often at unexpected times) Talking to the person who has died Social withdrawal
Shock, numbness, disbelief Anxiety, panic (What will I do now? How will I manage?) Anger,(Why me?) Guilt (Why didn’t I … ? I should have … ) Intense sadness Depression Helplessness, powerlessness Everything is unreal, feeling detached Fears: “of going crazy,” of the future Envy of others who have not experienced a loss (still have their spouse, their home, their health) Relief (that the person’s suffering is over; burden of care giving is over) Loneliness Indifference
Many different thought patterns occur during grief. When not understood as normal, some people fear they are going crazy.
Denial (difficulty believing the loss is real) Poor concentration Disorganized Confusion Preoccupation with the loss and/or circumstances surrounding it Seeing or hearing the person who died Dreams (e.g. of person who died) Repetition (thinking about or retelling the events surrounding the loss over and over) Anticipation (subconsciously expecting the person who died to return) Yearning and longing for person who died or for “what was”
Even if you have a strong faith, you may find it is shaken by a significant loss.
Anger directed towards God, clergy or religion in general Consolation provided by belief or scripture Examining the meaning of life Seeking meaning in the loss itself Doubts Strengthening of beliefs Wavering of faith Searching for evidence of afterlife Changes in priorities (e.g. increased or decreased tolerance for minor irritations in life)
GIVE YOURSELF THE TIME YOU NEED
Grieving takes time. It can’t be hurried. Just as it takes time for broken bones to heal, it takes time for broken hearts and spirits to heal. There is no fixed time period for grieving. It varies from person to person. However, many people do not understand grief and may think you can just “snap out of it” or “should be getting over it” much sooner than is realistic. Try not to judge yourself by the expectations of others. Grieving is not something we can just “snap out of.” One must adjust out of it, and that takes time and effort.
When You Are Grieving
“Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.”
Alphonse de Lamarline
Plant a tree
Plant a tree or find some other permanent memorial that can be shared during the holidays. This can be a great way to gather the family together and remember your loved one. Use this time to tell favorite stories and share memories.
Find someone safe to talk to
Find someone you can talk to while going through the journey of grief. You need safe people, who will listen and be near you during this time. You can find the comfort needed to face all of the emotions and pain stirred up by a time that once caused great joy, but now is the cause of great loss.
You do not have to go to every celebration, every office party, every family event; and you definitely do not have to accomplish every single item that is normally on your holiday “to do” list. Why not look over your holiday gift list and give everyone gift certificates instead of presents this year.
“It’s not the passage of time that heals,” he whispered. “It’s the passage through experiences.”
From The Lessons of Love – by Melody Beattie
Be specific about your wants and needs
Grieving leaves family and friends not knowing how to help you. People get worried that if they ask you about the death, or ask what you need, you might fall apart. Unfortunately, it therefore falls upon you, the one grieving, to state your needs and wants. Be prepared for this and tell them what you need, even if it’s just someone to listen to you.
Remember to cry
Crying is a natural outlet of grief. Don’t try to hold back the tears. Let them flow – even if you’re in the grocery store, at a holiday party, or visiting a friend. Tears will bring healing.
Eat, sleep and drink!
Even if you do not want to, eat and keep your liquid intake high. It is critical that you do so. It is important to keep up your strength while you are grieving. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. Keep your body healthy – you will need the strength.
Learn to say No!
Some people struggle with saying “No, I’m, sorry, I just can’t do the party,” or dinner, or whatever – “this year.” People will understand if you are not able to attend every function or event. If people are not listening when you say “no”, be honest with them. Tell them it is just too hard this year after your loss.
Lean on your faith
Remember to touch base with your source of spirituality. It will bring you comfort and support during this time. Talk with others, in your place of worship, and ask them to keep you in their prayers. Keep going to services. Being with a group of people who believe the same as you can be very supportive.
Part of healing in grief requires that I listen to myself – to slow down, to turn inward, to feel what I must feel. Going into neutral ultimately helps me encounter joy.
Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD
Take extra time for you. If you deplete your energy you will have less strength to handle the days ahead. Take a bath, take a nap, go for a long walk, spend time in nature, or listen to your favorite music. Just take time for you!
Tell a Story
Use the holiday time to create a new tradition. Tell a story or favorite memory, about your loved one, for the whole family to enjoy. This is a wonderful way for those who are grieving to remember and reflect together.
Light a Candle
Place a special candle by the window as a remembrance of your loved one. This is a great way to offer a symbolic form of love’s light continuing.
Give to a Charity
Encourage your family and others to make a donation to a special charity in honor of your loved one. Or donate a book to your local library in their name.
I realize my memories are like deeply rooted flowers, grounded in beauty and embraced by nature. Just as flowers instinctively grow and flourish, so too can my memories.
Ideas For Writing
You may find it helpful to “sort out” your thoughts about your loved one by writing a letter to the person who died.
The things that are bothering you the most are excellent ideas to journal about. It helps connect you to the messages coming from your heart.
Express your thoughts and feelings about:
- A special memory that I have about you…
- What I miss the most about you and our relationship…
- What I wish I had said or had not said…
- What I’d like to ask you…
- What I wish we’d done or had not done…
- What I have had the hardest time dealing with…
- Ways in which you will continue to live on in me…
- Special ways I have for keeping my memories of you alive…
Choose one or several ideas that are important to you or start at the top of the list and work your way down. These topics may help you come up with ideas specific to your situation and relationship.