Category Archives: Death

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.
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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.

You Know You Are Adjusting When . . .

  • You can laugh and enjoy being with others
  • Taking care of yourself is not only OK; but it feels good
  • The future is not so frightening.
  • You can handle “special days” without falling apart.
  • You want to reach out to others in need or pain.
  • You now enjoy activities that you had given up after the death of the person you loved.
  • You can share humorous memories without crying.
  • Your emotional roller coaster is slowing down.
  • You can actually see some progress.
  • You skip or forget a ritual such as visiting the cemetery and there is no guilt.

Do not be alarmed if one day you suddenly feel the pangs of grief again and believe that you are slipping back into the valley of grief. These moments will come when you least expect, but you will be able to handle the situation without panic.

Since the death of the person you loved, life will never be what it once was and that is reality. Life has taken a different direction and you will never forget your loss but the pain becomes bearable and at times touch the tender memories will not elicit pain at all.                     By: Sister Theresa McIntier, R.N. M.J.

Grief In The Workplace

One of the misconceptions at the workplace is about locking up all your emotions while you are working. You’re suppose to leave all emotional baggage at the door before entering and not unlock them until you leave eight hours later at the end of the day. This is just one of society’s avoidance messages. The truth is we can’t turn our emotions on and off on any given time; much less when we are grieving the death of a loved one.

It is likely that a coworker is grieving due to the death of a loved one at some point in the workplace. People are not prepared for the emotional, spiritual, physical, and social pain and powerful emotions that come with grief as a result of a death. The first emotions that come are usually shock, numbness, denial and disbelief; although grief does not come in orderly stages those are the first emotions to set in and begin the grief process. Others such as sadness, panic, fear, anger, guilt, loneness, just to mention a few may come at any given time. They won’t wait until the work day is over; they are there morning, noon and night.

How can you help coworkers with their grief?

  • Get comfortable acknowledging grief and mourning at work.
  • Ask how you can help.
  • Invite sharing, talking and use the name of their loved one who died.
  • Don’t try to lessen the loss with easy answers.
  • Don’t feel that you must have something to say, listen, listen and listen to them.
  • Don’t use clichés: “I know how you feel”, “he’s out of pain and in a better place”, etc.
  • Make a meal, run an errand, give them a ride
  • Help your coworker move towards their grief, not away by ignoring it, encourage
  • crying, talking, sharing of memories and writing by journalizing or writing to the deceased.
  • Attend the funeral, memorial service or whatever the family has planned.
  • Send flowers, meals, or donate your time.
  • Coordinate your workplace support, join together to help.
  • Maybe establish a memorial fund in the deceased name.
  • Make a memory board or book inviting other coworkers to place pictures or write a letter or write their memories of that person.
  • Remember the person who died on special days and holidays.

Your support and understanding can make a significant difference and are especially needed when the reality hits and the long process of grief begins. Keep listening; don’t change the conversation if the loved one is mentioned. The bereaved may repeat their stories often but that is how they learn to really believe that their loved one has died. Be sensitive to their needs and moods. Don’t force conversation or advice. Keep in touch, be available and again listen.

Encourage them to find more emotional help through support groups, their church or giving them books, videos, newsletters, or articles on grief.

The support of compassionate friends, coworkers, and employers can and does make a significant difference.

The Grieving Person’s Bill of Rights

Though you should reach out to others as you do the work of mourning, you should not feel obligated to accept the unhelpful responses you may receive from some people. You are the one who is grieving, and as such, you have certain “rights” no one should try to take away from you. The following list is intended both to empower you to heal and to help you decide how others can and cannot help. This is not to discourage you from reaching out to others for help, but rather to assist you in distinguishing useful responses from hurtful ones.

  1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief. No one else will grieve exactly the same way that you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don’t allow them to tell you what you should or should not be feeling.
  2. You have the right to talk about your grief. Talking about your grief will make you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want about your grief.
  3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions. Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey. Others may try to tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don’t take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.
  4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits. Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don’t allow others to push you into doing things you don’t feel ready to do.
  5. You have the right to experience “grief attacks”. Sometimes, out of nowhere, grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but it is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.
  6. You have the right to make use of ritual. The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More important, the funeral is a way for you to mourn. If others tell you that rituals such as these are silly or unnecessary, don’t listen.
  7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality. If faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry with God, find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.
  8. You have the right to search for meaning. You may find yourself asking, “Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now? Some of your questions may have answers but some may not. And watch out for the cliché responses some people may give. Comments like, “It was God’s will” or “think of what you have to be thankful for” are not helpful and you do not have to accept them.
  9. You have the right to treasure your memories. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share.
  10. You have the right to move toward your grief. Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. Neither you nor those around you must forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.

Reprinted from “Understanding Grief” by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD
Compiled and submitted by Carole McLeod of Grief Matters

Remembering Dad

If you have experienced the death of your father your relationship with him now can be one of love and memory. They are two gifts we are given when a death of a loved one occurs. Here’s some ways to honor and remember Dad:

  •             Go to dinner at his favorite place or cook his favorite meal.
  •             Have a special blessing and toast to him at a family meal.
  •             Buy a greeting card that has the words that are meaningful to you as you remember him.
    Place it somewhere that is special, by his picture, on your desk, by your favorite chair.
  •             Visit the grave or special place where you feel close to him.
  •             Donate to his favorite charity.

Mom

SPECIAL DEDICATION FOR MOTHERS’ DAY

This is dedicated to those who have mothers that have died………bring the memories of your mother to this special day by remembering…. honoring the past.

And for those who have had a death of a child…while remembering and loving them… if you also have children that are still living…love and value them.

“MOM”

The young mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is this the long way?” she asked.And the guide said “Yes and the way is hard. You will be old before you reach the endbut the end will be better than the beginning.”

The young mother was happy; she would not believe that anything could be betterthan these years. So she played with her children, she fed them and bathed them, andtaught them how to tie their shoes and ride a bike and reminded them to feed the dog,do their homework and brush their teeth.

The sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this”. Then the nights came, and the storms and the path was sometimes dark, the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her arms, and the children said, “Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.”

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary. The mother was weary too; but at all times she said to the children, “a little patience and we are there”. So the children climbed, and as they climbed they learned to weather the storms. And with this the mother gave them strength to face the world.

Year after year, she showed them compassion, understanding, hope and unconditional love. And when they reached the top they said, “Mother, we would not have done it without you.”

The days, weeks, months and years went on and the mother grew old and she became little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. The mother looked down at night, looked up at the stars and said “this is a better day than the last, for my children have learned so much and are now passing these traits to their children.” And when the way became rough for her, they lifted her and gave her their strength, just as she had given them hers.

One day they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And mother said:”I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better then the beginning for my children can walk with dignity and pride, with their heads held high, so can their children after them.” And the children said, “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.”

And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her; they said “We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.”

Your mother is always with you. She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick and perfume that she wore, she’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well, she’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day. She’s the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning.

Your mother lives inside your laughter. She’s crystallized in every tear drop. A mother shows every emotion. Happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love hate, anger helplessness, joy, sorrow and all the while hoping and praying you will only know the good feelings in life. She’s the place you came from, your first home, and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you…..

Not time, not space…..not even death!   Remember, love and cherish her.