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.

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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.

Finding Support and Understanding

While traveling your grief journey it is important to reach out to a support person;  someone who is non-judgmental- respects the uniqueness of your grief and won’t tell you what, how and when to do your mourning someone who is a good listener- when you are grieving it is important to tell your story, sometimes over and over so that you will be able to accept the death.

Your support person must be a good listener, someone who will not do all the talking but will listen to you and not offer a lot of advice.

“Companioning is about discovering the gifts of sacred silence;
It is not about filling every painful moment with words.”
“Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain;
it is not about taking away the pain.”

Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD from his book: Companioning vs. Treating

IF YOU NEED ME

I’m your neighbor who cares and your co-worker with a strong shoulder.
I’m your brother or sister who loves you and your best friend who want to stay.
I don’t know your pain, but I will be here…If you need me.

My heart breaks for your heart and I would take your burden if I could.
Your tears burn me, too. I will answer your midnight calls
And hold you when you fall. You’re important to me; I’m here if you need me.
Today I am with you; tomorrow and forever too.
I want to walk with you and listen.

Your grief is yours alone, I don’t know it, but I will share it if you allow.
Your love one is dear to me, you are too, I’m here for you;
I always will be….if you need me.

                                                            By Bob Anderson

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

A Special Message from Your Loved One

To my dearest family, some things I’d like to say…but first of all, to let you know that I arrived okay. I’m writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above, here, there’s no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I’m out of sight. Remember that I’m with you every morning, noon and night. That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through, God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you.”

It’s good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone. As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on. I need you here badly; you’re part of my plan. There’s so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.”

God gave me a list of things that he wished for me to do. And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you. And when you lie in bed at night, the day’s chores put to flight. God and I are closest to you…in the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years, because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears. But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain. Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned. But if I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand. But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o’er, I’m closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb; but together we can do it by taking one day at a time. It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too…that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who’s in sorrow and pain, then you can say to God at night…”My day was not in vain.” And now I am contented…that my life has been worthwhile, knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low, just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go. When you’re walking down the street, and you’ve got me on your mind; I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it’s time for you to go…from that body to be free, remember you’re not going…you’re coming here to me.

Fathers

Fathers’ young, father old, remembering good times are our gold.

Value earned through guidance given, helping us go forth in living.

Each father adding to our trove a treasure chest of love untold.

Remembering father in our lives, taking time to realize

Fatherly love brings wealth to living; remembering this we go forth in giving.

Fathers young, fathers old, we remember you all as life unfolds.

Honoring

Herbert Strohman, my Dad

Alan McLeod, my husband and father to my children

History of Father’s Day and a few Dadisms

Did you know the campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with much enthusiasm? Perhaps because, as one florist explained “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have”. On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event in honor of fathers. A Sunday sermon in memory of 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosion at the Fairmont Coal Co. mines in Monngah. It was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. Sonora Smart who lived in Washington State wanted to honor her father, a widower who had raised six children. She had heard about Mother’s Day in 1909 and wanted to begin the same celebration.

She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea. Finally she was successful; the local clergyman agreed to the idea and the nations’ first Fathers’ Day was celebrated state wide in Spokane on June 19, 1909.

In 1916 President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President

Calvin Coolidge urged the states to observe Father’s Day. However, many men continued to disdain the day. As on historian writes,”they scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift giving”, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products. In WWII Father’s Day became a way to honor American Troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war Father’s Day was a national institution.

Do you remember/recognize any of these “DADISMS”?

Don’t ask me, ask your mother

Get your elbows off the table

I’m not just talking to hear my own voice

Stop crying or I’ll give you a reason to cry

You’re gonna like it, whether you like it or not

If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?

Don’t look at me in that tone of voice

I don’t care what other people are doing? I’m not everybody else’s father.

Don’t make me stop the car!

If I didn’t love you so much I wouldn’t punish you…I would let you do whatever you wanted