Author Archives: carole103

About carole103

Carole McLeod is a certified bereavement facilitator with more than forty years of experience. In June 2011 she founded Grief Matters, a grief service for anyone who is grieving the death of a loved one and an educational resource for caregivers.

Regret: “If Only” “What If”

guiltWhen a loved one dies it is not unusual for some regret and guilt to walk with you in your  grief journey. As a survivor you may tend to blame yourself for something you think you did or did not do that may have caused the death. For you to help yourself accept the death sometimes it is necessary to replay the time, events, and the circumstances leading up to the death in order to be able to move from denial to acceptance. During that time of replay it is possible for you to find something that you feel guilty about or think if I can change what I did maybe I can change the results and bring my loved one back.

Guilt is a strong emotion because you are in an extremely vulnerable state. Though guilt, regret and self-blame are natural feelings and come with your grief they are most times not logical...YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME FOR THE DEATH OF YOUR LOVED ONE.
Guilt can be described in 5 different areas of our life:
#1. SURVIVOR GUILT- BEING ALIVE WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS DIED. You may find yourself asking…”how could he/she die and I still be alive…why them and not me? Did I cause this death?
#2. RELIEF GUILT- This is when you feel guilty for being relieved when someone loved has died. This often occurs when a person has been sick along time…you may not miss the suffering and daily care giving. Also you recognize you will not miss certain aspects of that person (physical, verbal or alcohol abuse, etc.)
#3. LONG STANDING PERSONALITY FACTORS- some people have felt guilty all their lives for one reason or another, this is part of their personality.
#4. JOY-GUILT- experiencing any kind of joy, pleasure or just being relaxed and not thinking of your loved one can cause you to feel guilty that you are not grieving at that moment. As you move through your grief journey you will have more moments of this which means you are healing, but will never forget that person.
#5. MAGICAL THINKING GUILT- this means thinking that something you said or did somehow caused the death of you loved one…an argument, bad feelings, something said in the heat of the moment. REMEMBER YOU DID NOT CAUSE THE DEATH.
With guilt, “the gift that keeps on giving”, there are many ways to work through this emotion:
Look for a good support person to talk to. Someone who is compassionate, patient,  non-judgmental, and a good listener.
Don’t allow others to explain your feelings away. While they might mean well this does not allow you to “talk out” what you think and feel.
Allow yourself some “review time” and continue to remind yourself that there are some things in life you cannot change.
Do not repress or ignore feelings of guilt. Physical and other emotional problems could result.
Forgive yourself, this is more important than forgiving anyone else because you have to live with yourself.
Get guilt out of you system by writing about it. This will also help you take a more objective view of it. Make a list of “those things I think I DIDN’T DO” and another list of “those things I DID DO”. The “did do” list will always be longer!
Self-forgiveness, even though there is nothing to forgive responds well when feelings are shared. A grief support group can help with the feeling that you are not alone. Also if feelings of guilt or regret are complicating you healing, don’t be ashamed to find a trained grief counselor to help you.
Advertisements

treasured-memories-ma3002

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular; please wipe away the tear;
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
But the sound of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring
For it’s beyond description to hear the angles sing.
I know how much you miss me; I see the pain inside your heart
But I am not so far away, we really are not apart
So be happy for me, dear ones, you know I hold you dear.
And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send you each a special gift from heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory of my undying love.
After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important is the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do, for I can’t count the Blessings or love He has for each of you.
So have a merry Christmas and wipe away that tear, remember I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

 

For That I Am Thankful

By Darcie D. Sims

It doesn’t seem to get any better, but it doesn’t get any worse either
For that I am thankful
There are no more pictures to be taken, but there are memories to be cherished
For that I am thankful
There is a missing chair at the table, but the circle of family gathers close.
For that I am thankful
The turkey is smaller, but there is still stuffing.
For that, I am thankful.
The days are shorter, but the nights are softer.
For that, I am thankful.
The pain is still there, but it lasts only moments,
For that, I am thankful.
The calendar still turns, the holidays still appear and they still cost too much
And I am still here
For that I am thankful
The room is still empty, the soul still aches, but the heart remembers.
For that I am thankful.
The guests still come, the dishes pile up, but the dishwasher works.
For that I am thankful.
The name is still missing, the words still unspoken, but the silence is shared.
For that I am thankful.
The snow still falls, the sled still waits, and the spirit still wants to.
For that I am thankful.
The stillness remains, but the sadness is smaller.
For that I am thankful.
The moment is gone, but the love is forever.
For that I am blessed.
For that I am grateful….
Love was once (and still is) a part of my being…
For that I am living.
I am living…
For that I am thankful.
May your holidays be filled with reasons to be thankful. Having loved
And having been loved is perhaps the most wondrous reason of all.

Misconceptions of Grief

Misconception #1
Grief and Mourning are the same thing.

Grief is the internal container. It holds all of your thought, feelings inside yourself.
Mourning is when you take the grief you have inside and express it outside of yourself. Another way of defining it is “Grief Gone Public”
Misconception #2
Grief and mourning progress in predictable, orderly stages.

You may find yourself trying to self prescribe your grief experience and force yourself to be in a “stage”. Sometimes your emotions may follow each other within a short period of time; or at other times two or more emotions may be present simultaneously. Remember -do not try to determine where “you should” be. Just allow yourself to be naturally where you are in the process. Everyone mourns in different ways.
Misconception #3
You should move away from grief not toward it
Our Society often encourages prematurely moving away from grief instead of toward it. Do not buy into statements such as “You should move on”, or “they would want you to go on with your life”, or “get back to normal”, or “You should be over it by now”. Masking or moving away from your grief creates anxiety, confusion and depression. You must continually remind yourself that leaning toward, not away from the pain will facilitate eventual healing.  
Misconception #4
Tears of Grief are only a sign of weakness
.
Tears of grief are often associated with personal inadequacy and weakness. The worst thing you can do, however, is to allow this judgment to prevent you from crying. Don’t buy into the advice you might receive such as “Tears won’t bring him/her back” or “he or she wouldn’t want you to cry”. Crying is nature’s way of releasing internal tension in your body and allows you to communicate a need to be comforted.
Misconception #5
After someone dies, the goal should be to “get over” your grief as soon as possible
.

You will never “get over” your grief, but you will learn to live with it. The goal is to become “
RECONCILED OR TO REACH RECONCILATION”; which means “learning to live without the physical presence of that person but with the memories and the loved you shared as you move into your new life”.
                       Written by Alan Wolfelt from the book: Understanding Your Grief

Regret . . . “If only . . . .” “What if . . .” . . . .Guilt

When a loved one dies it is not unusual for some regret and guilt to walk with you in your grief journey. As a survivor you tend to blame yourself for something you think you did or did not do that may have caused the death. For you to help yourself accept the death sometimes it is necessary to replay the time, events, and the circumstances leading up to the death in order to be able to move from denial to acceptance. During that time of replay it is possible for the you to find something to blame yourself for; possibly thinking if I can change what I did maybe I can change the results and bring my loved one back.

Guilt is a strong emotion because you are in an extremely vulnerable state. Though the guilt, regret, and self-blame are natural feelings they are most times not logical… you are not to blame for the death of your loved one.

With guilt, “the gift that keeps on giving”, there are many ways to work through this emotion:

Look for a good support person to talk to. Someone who is compassionate, patient, and non-judgmental. A support person who is a good listener.

Don’t allow others to explain your feelings away. While they might mean well this does not allow you to “talk out” what you think and feel.

Allow yourself some “review time” and continue to remind yourself that there are some things in life you cannot change.

Do not repress or ignore feelings of guilt. Physical and other emotional problems could result.

Forgive yourself, this is more important than forgiving anyone else because you have to live with yourself.

Get guilt out of your system by writing about it. This will also help you take a more objective view of it.

Do not drive yourself crazy with unanswerable “Why? Questions” and do not assume that you are so powerful that you have control over death.

Self-forgiveness, even though there is nothing to forgive, responds well when feelings are shared. A grief support group can help with the feeling that you are not alone. Also if feelings of guilt or regret are complicating your healing, don’t be ashamed to find a trained grief counselor.

Keeping the Connection While Grieving

Grief never ends….but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay.

Grief is neither a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…it’s the price of love.

In general the world’s society believes that when a person dies they are gone period…those who are grieving for that person are encouraged to believe that there is no connection to their loved one, so they need to stop grieving, thinking , and loving that person.

But the truth is that the one we loved is gone PHYSICALLY, the love and memory we have for that person remains with us and will last forever. No one can take that away from us.

We have been given the gift of love and memory and therefore we will preserve the love and the memory while continuing the task of grieving. This is called “reconciliation”; learning to live without the physical presence but with the love and memory as we move into our future lives.

The reality is that we never lose the connection with the person we loved. The connection is no longer a physical one, but it remains strong. It is a connection that is experienced in many ways. One of the ways is memory. At times, memories may flood into our life…”.every time I see a beautiful sunset I think of my Dad…he loved taking pictures of them.”Legacies that the person left also keep us connected. Their career and those family members that followed in their footsteps; the recipe that Mom left for the holiday dinners. Sometime legacies may be objects that the person left; a wedding ring, a special collection of art or crafts. There may be other connections as well. Who we are is an enduring connection. All the people who were a part of their lives leave a connection to them with memories. There may be rituals or events we use to keep a connection. Christmas rituals: lighting candles, decorating the tree with special ornaments used by our loved one or going to church on Christmas Eve. Then there are anniversaries, birthdays, and other special days to celebrate and remember our loved one with a ritual.

Early in our grief these connections may make us sad; over time feelings are likely to be more mixed. Memories may now comfort, looking at old pictures or telling stories that remind us may make us laugh. Though they remind us of what was lost, they also affirm what remains.

Are these connections ever a problem? They can be when they slow our grief journey and we fail to acknowledge the death. But when connections allow, even encourage us to grow, they are not a problem. Then they remind us of all the things we did and can never lose.

Compiled by Carole McLeod, Grief Matters
Some of the article was used from “Keeping Connections” by Kenneth Doka.