“One of the things so astonishing and costly about losing a loved one is that, while the sun continues to rise and set, newspapers continue to be delivered, traffic lights still change from red to green and back again, our whole life is turned around, upside down. Is it any wonder we feel disoriented, confused? Yet the people we pass on the street are going about their business as though no one’s world has been shaken to the core, as though the earth has not opened and swallowed us up, dropped us into a world of insecurity and change. It is, as Emily Dickinson says, ‘a new road’ – for us as surely as for the one we have lost. It will take us time to learn to walk that road. Time, and a lot of help, so we don’t stumble and fall irretrievably. Those who have had their own experiences of loss will probably be our most helpful guides – knowing when to say the right word, when to be silent and walk beside us, when to reach out and take our hand. In time, we will be helpers for others.”

~ Martha Whitmore Hickman, from her book “Healing After Loss”

Once you’ve lost a loved one, especially after a long battle with an illness, you’ve entered new territory. Those of us who have gone before you are here to let you know that it’s going to be okay – you’re going make it through. You just have to give it time and be gentle with yourself. You’re probably exhausted to start with, and on top of that your mind is really fuzzy. You’re going to say and do things you may not understand and may have no memory of later, so go slow.  Take it one day at a time, and remember that each person deals with grief in their own way, in their own time. You can’t hurry grief, and you can’t deny it. So be alone when you feel like being alone, cry when the tears want to come, and do your best to take care of your body – it has to carry you through until your mind is well again.

Naturally, you want this pain to diminish – no one likes feeling this much hurt. You must heal and find a way to go on with your life, and that’s what your departed loved one would want for you. But you can’t just turn off the grief; you can bottle it up while you’re in public but you have to release it now and then. Sorrow will sit in your chest like a big water balloon. The only way to lessen the heaviness and pain is to let some of the water out. You need to cry. Crying doesn’t mean weakness, it means you really loved. It means there is a hole in your life now. If you died, and were able to visit earth again for a few days following your death, and everyone was laughing and getting on with their life, and no one shed a single tear for you, what would that tell you about the impact you had on others? Your tears are your way of acknowledging that your loved one mattered. There is no shame in tears, but a great shame to have passed through your life without leaving someone behind who cared enough to cry at the loss of you.

So don’t let your sorrow fester and mold inside of you – let it out. Eventually, the heaviness in your chest will be less;  you will cry a little less; the good memories will start to drift back in to take their rightful place next to the painful memories. The healing has begun. But it must happen in its own time, it can’t be rushed. And while you will heal, you will not forget. If someone in your life is telling you it’s time to “get over it”, just tell them, “I’ll never get over it, but I’m working to get past it. I’ve experienced a great loss and trauma – please be patient with me. I’ll get there in my own time.”

Some friends will be there for you, and some will seem like they’re avoiding you. We are so careful to tiptoe around death that when it occurs some of us just have no idea what to say; how to behave. Many of us have found that mentioning a loved one’s name in a social setting after they’ve died creates an awkward moment – people don’t know how to react and so, after an uncomfortable silence, they change the subject. These reactions are normal, it doesn’t mean they don’t care or are indifferent to what you’re going through. Don’t let it hurt you, and don’t erase your loved one from your conversations. It’s natural for us to continue to mention our loved ones – they are a big part of our history and who we are. And just because your loved one is no longer here, they are still present in your heart. Carry their memory inside of you like a little shining star. In time, I promise you, it will begin to glow and the pain of their loss will be replaced with gratitude that you were lucky enough to have had them in your life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCELLENT BOOKS ABOUT GRIEF

Safe Passage ~ Word to Help the Grieving by Molly Fumia

Healing After Loss ~ Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HELP GUIDE
Losing someone or something you love is very painful. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt.  Sometimes it may feel like the sadness will never let up. While these feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel is necessary for healing. There is no right or wrong way to grieve — but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. You can get through it! Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.
http://helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm 

COPING WITH BEREAVEMENT AND LOSS DUE TO CANCER
People cope with the loss of a loved one in different ways. Most people who experience grief will cope well. Others will have severe grief and may need treatment. There are many things that can affect the grief process of someone who has lost a loved one to cancer.
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/bereavement/Patient/page1/AllPages

KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT
When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Many people report feeling an initial stage of numbness after first learning of a death, but there is no real order to the grieving process.
http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectid=C7DF9618-1372-4D20-C807F41CB3E97654

HOPE AND HEALTH THROUGH CREATIVE GRIEVING
So the unthinkable has happened to you! A special loved one has been torn from your life by tragedy, and you are heartbroken. I am so very sorry for your loss, and wish to extend our deepest sympathy to you and your family. Welcome, my friend, to our grief loss recovery website. You have come to the right place for straight answers, practical advice… and hope.
http://www.recover-from-grief.com/ 


“REMEMBERANCE – TO ONE IN SORROW”
By Grace Noll Crowell

Let me come in where you are weeping, friend,
And let me take your hand.
I, who have known a sorrow such as yours,
Can understand.

Let me come in — I would be very still
Beside you in your grief;
I would not bid you cease your weeping, friend,
Tears can bring relief.

Let me come in — I would only breathe a prayer,
And hold your hand,
For I have known a sorrow such as yours,
And understand.

paisleyheartsm

“ALL IS WELL”
By Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918), Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.

 

162 Responses to Coping With Grief

  1. Carol S says:

    I came here simply to be and rest. Dad’s been gone for just over a year, Mama for two months. Sometimes, (although I seek out “in person” comforting, enveloping contact), after being out in the “real world” of bustle I can feel really drained and being here soothes me.

    Molly, Becky, Char, Jane, Jean – & everyone whose posts I can’t see on the page yet – thank you for writing. Your words are like a warm blanket – even if they’re raw with pain also.

    Biggest lesson for me is that love is all and experience of grief is not linear (in this case).

    • Jean F says:

      Carol, it fills my heart to know that you consider this a place of warmth and comfort. You still have so much raw pain to deal with, give yourself time and some pampering.

    • Char says:

      Hi Carol, wow you have that right, I come here to rest also, ok and to vent a bit..ok lots.. I am glad you have found comfort here at DLH, as this is one of the reasons our dear Angel Jean developed the site. We help each other find comfort in some of the most difficult moments life hands us. My thoughts, prayers and hugs are with you this evening. We are here for you at all times. rest easy.

    • Em says:

      Carol, yes that is what started me coming here. In the sadness of losing my Dad to cancer almost 6 years ago and then shortly after learning my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. You’re so right, love is all, and the grief is part of that love. But when the grief starts to ebb away, the love will still be there. And being here for others, in their grief and fear give my worst days a better purpose.

    • Carol,
      This site is indeed a blessing, and so are the words of those who have traveled this way. Love, best wishes, and light to you all.

  2. We come to Earth and very quickly we become connected here, and we love. Then, sometimes it seems one by one, those we love seem to move on ahead. I thought I knew a fair bit about loss and grief as a child and as a young adult.
    The sudden loss of our youngest son, at 12 1/2 one beautiful day at the beginning of the Christmas season left me in disbelief, and taught me things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It didn’t help that Daniel had a clean autopsy. It took multiple autopsies and multiple university center pathologists to come up with an operational theory as to what had happened. The theory is that our dear boy, who had a heart as clean as a whistle, also had a heart rhythm disturbance that no one knew about. It happened suddenly on an exciting day and took him from us, likely painlessly. It has since been identified in both myself and my eldest son. My eldest son has had a cardiac ablation in order to avoid the potential for what happened to our dear Daniel. I spent almost five years wishing that I could evaporate to be with Daniel. A parent shouldn’t let a child go somewhere they haven’t checked out first ! It took a long time to know that Daniel knows that we have work left to do on Earth and that he was always a quick study and learned all he needed to know about love and loyalty in 12 1/2 years. I know that when I DO “evaporate” from Earth, that Daniel will be one of the first to greet me, and then, we will have so much to share ! Love and best wishes to all of you on a journey of loss. May all of you feel love and light.

    • Char says:

      Jane, my heart is breaking for you. Thinking you are so special and not sure. to be honest, how you continued on, which is something so much more than mere words can express. Your wonderful little loving Daniel… taken in a moment…. I grieve with you. I believe as you do, one day.. when you evaporate.. he will be there.. smiling and laughing and welcoming his sweet Mom home. I hope you come back and visit us often, and pray you feel the same love and light tonight and always.

      • Char,
        Thank you. That was so beautifully said. I am sorry you have to be here, but then again, glad this venue is here, and that you have found it.
        I continued only because my husband and three other children who were older than Daniel, were just as devastated as I was, and they needed me to help to set the example of how we would live without Daniel’s light and uproarious sense of humor. I also have always felt that Daniel knows how we handle everything, and I wanted to continue to be the Mom he knew. I wanted to make him proud that he could go on to whatever the cosmos/God has next for him, knowing that I would do all in my power to help our family. Still, it takes a long time again until a life becomes a life. Thank you for your kind words !

  3. Molly says:

    Here we go again. I’m still reeling from the death of my uncle, and just found out that a friend of mine from work got the results of the biopsy she had last week, and the news isn’t good. Kathie is very much on my heart and mind right now…she is a sweet, feisty woman who loves her family, good food, and good wine, and has a hearty dose of “East Coast Attitude,” and I love her to pieces. She is only in her early fifties, is a tough lady, and if anyone can kick this thing, it’s her. As scary as her diagnosis is, she in turn has so many people pulling for her, and the more, the better. Please send up light and prayers for Kathie and her family, and for wisdom for her treatment team as they tackle this beast. <3

    • Char says:

      Molly,
      The words: biopsy, diagnosis, beast, scary and treatment are completely overshadowed by the words: feisty, tough, attitude, light, wisdom and prayers.
      I am sending positive thoughts and prayers to your sweet Kathie to tackle and beat it into the ground.
      ~Char

  4. Molly says:

    My Uncle Bill passed yesterday after his long fight with Parkinson’s. My aunt and my cousins were with him, and he went very peacefully. I’m so very grateful for all they have done to support him, even as my aunt was battling a resurgence of her breast cancer (she is doing much better, btw). It’s a hard blow to take right now, but I know that he is at peace, which gives me peace as well.

    • Jean F says:

      Molly, I’m sorry your dear Uncle Bill has passed, but glad he passed peacefully with loved ones at his side. The grief at your mother’s passing may or may not emerge on the 24th – you just never know with grief – you might wake up with gratitude beside you instead. Either way, we’re here if you need us.

    • Char says:

      Molly,
      Very sorry to hear about your Uncle’s passing. I know you wanted to be able to see him one last time. Good to know his wife and children were there, and of course you were too in your heart and soul.
      ~Char

  5. Molly says:

    My heart is a little heavy this morning. I found out from my cousin that my uncle (who I was very close to growing up) is seriously ill, and may not make it. He has been fighting Parkinson’s for several years. My aunt and another of my cousins have been helping with a lot of the caregiving, though he has been in a home for a while now. I was hoping to make it to the East Coast this summer to see them one more time, but that may not happen now. I’m grieving over the physical distance, and really wish I could be there. There’s already a cloud over things right now, because Mom’s year is coming up on the 24th. So I’m kind of an emotional wreck at the moment, and trying to plow through it. This is a hard one, because my childhood wasn’t great, but Uncle Bill was and is one of the shining lights throughout my life. Please send love, light, prayers, strength, and healing…we will know within the next 24 hours just which way things are going.

    • Char says:

      Molly,
      Sending out a big hug for you, and prayers for your dear uncle. Not sure you read my last post under “Beautiful Words”, it really is very uplifting, especially at a time such as this.
      Please let us know how the next day goes for you Uncle Bill and your family.
      Thinking of you today, tomorrow and of course on the 24th.
      ~Char

  6. Molly says:

    Hi Becky – we haven’t gotten to talk for a while, and I wanted to see how you’ve been doing. I hope you and yours are having a blessed holiday season, and things are going well for you. Please keep me posted…hugs! – Molly

  7. Becky M says:

    Oh, my goodness!! You have absolutely made my day, Molly! I, too, am honored to count you and many of the other people who frequent DLH as my friends. I completely understand what you are saying about being able to not be in touch with someone for a period of time and when you finally do, your friendship just resumes like you have talked every day! My best friend is like that and we first met when we were juniors in high school. I really can’t imagine life without her because she knows me so well and I can always count on her to be honest, compassionate, and she loves my kids just like she does her own family. I seek her advice and counsel on so many different things and she is one of the most beautiful treasures I have in my life. Those kind of connections are priceless and I have already felt that kind of connection with you and others on here. I believe that God brings people in our lives at the perfect time and nothing happens by accident. Every trial and experience has a purpose at some point or another. NO ONE can say, “I know just how you feel” unless they have walked down the same path you have and experienced the same trials. The little details may differ but the overall experience is the same and when you can help someone to prepare for what lies ahead of them, you are giving them a fore-warning and they don’t feel so blind-sided by the different things ahead of them. Here at the holiday season, I have worked through so many different things after losing my husband at 31, my dad and step-dad within 3 months of each other the same year, and my mom (not to mention having open heart surgery 14 days after her death), my whole perspective of what really is important is being able to give to others and help them overcome their trials. I absolutely LOVE the movie, “Pay it Forward” and think that every person ought to watch it and put it into practice. There haven’t been very many movies that have impacted my life to the extent that it has. I honestly believe that if we could put this into action, our world would be a much better place. You are totally right when you said that compassion and understanding abounds here at DLH. I don’t usually blog but I literally look forward to getting a response to things I have posted every day. It brings me such pleasure to be told that something I have shared has helped them on a day that is grey and cold to get a little glimpse of sunshine. I can’t help but wonder what Dan’s reaction to the things that have transpired since Jean established this site and how proud he would be of it? Maybe he would have written a song for us…the thought makes me smile. His legacy truly will live on through us and I am so blessed to be a part of it! Thank you, Molly, for being there with your hugs and I am sending them back to you! God bless you today with smiles and sunshine and the Peace that Passes Understanding! Until next time….DLH!!

    • Molly says:

      Becky, you mentioned your connection with “Pay It Forward,” and mentioned that there aren’t too many movies that you feel that way about. I’m that way with music…there’s a lot of music that I enjoy, but some music reaches me more profoundly – Dan (of course), the Beatles, the Eagles, Neil Young, and lots of jazz and classical and blues. It inspires my spirit, my creativity, my own material, and my life. Every song is a snapshot in time, or a lesson learned, or a dream realized. Sometimes there’s pain captured in those words; I’ve been able to work through a lot of those feelings by listening to and writing music. You also mentioned the holidays, which I’ve been dreading. When your day job is in retail, there’s almost no escaping it this time of the year. Thanksgiving is next week, then Mom’s birthday (Dec. 5th), Christmas, New Year’s, and the one year mark. I’m trying to focus on the giving this year – not so much in the material sense, but in the simple things like a smile, a good laugh, an open heart, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, and most importantly, time, and love. Those are things that we can all give that are worth more than anything material. And it doesn’t just have to be at this time of the year…it can (and should) be something we all try to do every day. You’re right, Becky…just imagine the ripple effect if each of us did something every day, no matter how small our contribution is. I hope you’re having a good week, and that you’re blessed with all that you need right now. Hugs, and DLH! :-)

      BTW – I think Dan would be very proud of what Jean has done with this site, and of the contributions we all have made. This is a very special place, indeed. :-)

  8. Becky M says:

    Char, I love the phrase you used at the end of your post..about whether to “duck or play catch!” That really is the bottom line when a person is on this path of dealing with loss and grief, isn’t it? You either decide that “it” is going to get you or that you are going to control “it.” I hate to hear that you and your family are going through difficult times and rest assured that my thoughts and prayers will be with you, as well. I so appreciate what you said in your post and yes, Molly and I have seemed to find common ground very quickly. I don’t believe in luck and totally in the fact that God brings people into my life for a reason, whether it be to help with a immediate need in their lives or for a lifetime. I don’t bond that quickly with too many people but when it has happened, I can still call them my friend even after 40 plus years! I have felt like that in regard to this web site, too…there are so many out there that are hurting and don’t know where to go and I believe that it was Divinely directed when I found DLH. Compassion is a very difficult thing to come by these days because we live in an “instant gratification” society and a immense attitude of “entitlement” and it’s all about what “I” can get out of life. I have found that when you give to others, whether it be past experiences and lessons you have learned from them, or something physical, I am the one who receives the most. Nothing has happened in my life that I haven’t been able at one time or another to help someone else and that is what being a part of this crazy thing called mankind is all about. Sending you hugs and prayers! =o)

    • Molly says:

      I think there is definitely some divine intervention here too. It’s amazing how you can go through so much, and feel like you’re the only one…then you meet someone who’s been there too. It’s like the clouds parting, the sun shining through, and things being revealed to you in a way they haven’t been before. Becky, I feel that common bond with you too, Char is right. I wonder sometimes if I would have come this far already if I hadn’t stumbled upon the link on LL that brought me here. And I feel so compelled to “pay it forward,” and take what I’m learning to help someone else who is on this road too. When I call someone a friend, they’re a keeper, believe me…I have friends who I’ve known since I was 5 or 6 years old, and we can go for a few months without talking, and pick right up where we were, as if a day hasn’t passed. Compassion is one of the greatest gifts we can give, and though it may not give that “instant gratification,” there’s a much greater reward in knowing that you’ve given a sense of peace and reassurance to someone who really needs it. And it abounds here at DLH, for sure. I’m honored to count so many of you in my circle of friends now, too. Hugs, and a huge dose of gratitude to you! :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.