I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Mourning Process: Psychology for widows, those who have experienced loss (widows / Grief), and for family and friends to educate on how to help a loved one suffering from grief.

There has been controversy over the mourning process, and for myself and others who have found societies misconceptions and ignorance hurtful. With the intent to educate, it is the hope that some people will be enlightened. The validity of the following information is demonstrated in numerous books and authors stating the same material. A library of current books and authors, I can offer as references if need be.
Teach Others About Grief and Mourning. Teach your friends how they can support you. Teach your children about mourning and help them mourn the death of their father. Provide them with mourning opportunities and activities. Model your own grief and mourning openly & honestly. Whatever you do, don’t hide your grief. This will teach them to hide their feelings too. Remember that each person’s grief is unique. Your experiences will not be shared or appreciated by everyone.
Perhaps the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself at this difficult time is to reach out for help from others. Mourning, by definition, means “shared social response to loss” Don’t try to do this alone, it can’t be done! Think of grieving as the hardest work you have ever done. Sharing your pain with others won’t make it disappear, but it will, over time, make it more bearable.
Grief is not an orderly progression towards healing. Usually grief hurts more before it hurts less. Be compassionate with yourself as you experience your own unique journey. Ignore, usually well-intended advice; don’t allow yourself or anyone else to compartmentalize your grief. Acknowledge the reality of death, embrace the pain of the loss, remember the spouse who died, develop a new self-identity, search for meaning, receive ongoing support from others. They live on, in us through memory. Actively remember your spouse and commemorate the life that was lived. Never let anyone take your memories away in a misguided attempt to save you. It is good for you to display photos of your husband. It’s good for you to talk about your partner’s life and death. It’s good for you to hold onto objects that belonged to your spouse. Remembering the past makes hoping for the future possible. E.M. Forster wrote, “Unless we remember we cannot understand.” And as Kierkegaard noted, “Life is lived forward but understood backward.” We need the love and understanding of others if we are to heal. Acknowledging your need for support is not a weakness, it is strength. Grief is a process, not an event, and you will need the continued support of your friends and family for weeks, months and years.
Anniversaries of the death, life events, birthdays can be especially hard when you are in grief. Plan ahead; perhaps take the day off work, on the anniversary of the death. Your wedding anniversary may be a particularly difficult day for you and in the years to come. You may want to devote an hour or two of each anniversary to reminiscing. A memorial will help you to remember the love you shared and keep your spouse’s memory alive. Make a plan on what you will do on that day. Our culture doesn’t always understand the value of ceremony. Don’t expect that everyone around you will understand your desire to make use of ritual. However, don’t allow their lack of understanding to persuade you to for-go ceremonies both at the time of the death and month’s and years into the future. There is no “correct” answer; you must simply decide what feels right for you. If others find fault with your decision about what to do with your grief, pay them no attention. This is your business and yours alone.
Sometimes you’ll hear about mourners “recovering” from grief. Similar terms you’ll hear are “get over it” or “let it go” and “get on with it”. These terms are damaging because it implies that grief is an illness that must be cured. It also connotes a return to the way things were before the death. Mourners don’t recover from grief. We become “reconciled” to it. We learn to live with it and are forever changed by it. Our lives can potentially be deeper and more meaningful after the death of someone loved. Reconciliation takes time. You may not become truly reconciled to your loss for several years and even then will have “griefbursts” forever. You know that your beginning to reconcile your grief when it’s no longer the first thing you think of each morning. When you start to  have some energy again. When your eating and sleeping well. When you can laugh and have fun once more. When you begin to  make plans for the future. If you actively mourn this death, in time your grief will melt into who “I am—a happy, loving person who has experienced loss.”
Growth means utilizing our potentials. The encounter of grief reawakens us to the importance of utilizing our potentials—our capacities to mourn our losses openly and without shame, to be interpersonally effective in our relationships with others, and to continue to discover fulfillment in life, living and loving.

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