Too many people try to make themselves happy. Did you know that you can’t always be happy? We don’t like to feel sad. We don’t like others to be sad. We try to fix their sadness and our own.
The dominate emotion following the death of a loved one is sadness. You can’t fix sadness and you shouldn’t try. Sadness is a result of something that you really miss – your loved one. (more…)
When my Dad died, I was angry with him for smoking for so many years. When my first wife died, I was angry with her for leaving me with our four children.
I had conversations with God about my situation and wondered what I had done wrong to deserve this fate. I’m just being honest.
Anger is a normal feeling that accompanies loss. Anger often looks like this:
- I am angry with God.
- I am angry with myself.
- I am angry with a person.
- I am angry at my situation.
When you feel angry, ask yourself what you are really angry about. (more…)
After reading my work on loss after a death, many people have commented on the similarities in the aftermath of their divorce. “The loss feels the same in so many ways,” they observe. Yes, the transition is huge. And it’s so important to do it well for all who are involved in the process.
In death, you can no longer be with that person physically. You cannot spend time with them to continue the relationship on an emotional level, so you detach and find new emotional attachments in your life. This does not mean that you stop loving or remembering, it’s just that the relationship is not as it was when the person was living. It can’t be. (more…)
They were a sweet and precious couple who loved each other so very much. And then cancer came and interrupted their life and he died.
I went to see her one morning, two weeks after the funeral. We shared some beautiful stories about her husband. Tears were shed. Yet even through the tears there were brief bursts of laughter as we remembered him in our conversation.
“I know you must miss so many things about your husband. Can you tell me one thing that you’ll especially miss that is on your mind right now?” I asked. (more…)
Everyone begins grieving in the same way: someone significant dies and you miss him or her. Indeed, death occurs mostly through four means: sudden death, terminal illness, major organ failure or long term (as in Alzheimer’s). And each type of death will bring its specific challenges to the grieving process.
But each death results in grief and therefore everyone gets the same offer, the same question: what will you do now?
Why is it that some people are able to move forward in their lives, acknowledging the reality of death? They are able to honor the person who has died, while at the same time giving themselves permission to find joy and happiness following their loss. Why can some people do that…and not others?
Dad was in an extended care facility. Pam was still at home, taking another round of chemotherapy.
I wanted to spend more time with my dad, knowing his life on earth was coming to an end because of his terminal illness. We lived three hours away from my parents but I needed to take care of Pam because she was my wife. I had made that vow: “…in sickness and in health.” But I still felt like an elastic band, stretched in opposing directions. (more…)
Thankfully, my daughters helped me. I did not realize how challenging it would be to give up some of those items. I soon discovered that I needed to save some important pieces to which strong memories were attached. I saved the Mickey Mouse coat that Pam had bought during our last family holiday in California. I kept the small shovel she used to dig around the flowers at the cabin. I saved her hat, covered with buttons – the one that she wore while building into so many young, impressionable girls as a Girl Guide leader. There are so many good memories and stories to recall. Happy memories! (more…)
And when it applies to grief it is so necessary.
So often we believe that we are being helpful when we say we understand what a person is going through in their grief journey. Do we really understand?
People want to help and care and many believe that they are being empathetic when they say that they understand anothers grief. A few people in my grief journey seemed to think that they understood me because they had gone through a similar experience. (more…)
In my years of experience in caring for people following death, there are three words that people wish they would have said more often: “I Love You”.
In fact during that initial shock stage, when we are dealing with the immediate deep feelings of loss, often people have said to me, “I wish I could have said, ‘I love you,’ one more time, or at least that those would have been the last words that I had said to my loved one before they died.”
We make it a practice in our family to say those words every time we say, “goodbye”, whether it is after a visit or a phone call or as we finish up on a Face Time conversation. It always ends with, “I love you” … always. (more…)
Even though it’s a powerful song of hope, it was played at my wife’s funeral. Her sister, my niece and our two daughters sang it beautifully.
Music is a very powerful medium of bringing us back to a person who has died. It seems that most people to whom I talk to about grief, conclude that there are songs that were special and bring back memories of their loved one.
Grief returns through a song. Happy and tears at the same time. (more…)