Kindness in Grief

Being kind and respectful to one another. Wow, what a concept. In general, we have a really difficult time with this. In grief, both are painfully absent in many relationships, but this is most obvious in the intimate ones we share with a partner or other close family member. There are a host of reasons for this, but mainly, because no one in a partnership or other family relationship experiences the many symptoms of grief in the same way or time, conflict between loved ones is never far away. Striving for personal balance in all things can seem like an endless search and struggle. It can feel like there’s always something out of whack.

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Angels are 4 Real!

Today, I want to talk about angels. I love angels. I found them in 2005, just a few months before my twenty-two-year old daughter died by suicide. Today, I can truly say the angels are what saved me from myself in my horrendous suffering from my grief, and the big bad world, until I could stand more firmly on my feet. Initially, I studied with a mentor who has now gone on to other things. But I want to be clear, the angels have made an indelible impact on me, to the point I cannot imagine ever abandoning them from my personal life or the work that I publicly do. I am proud to claim angels as a huge part of my daily living and can honestly admit that without them, I don’t know where I’d be today, if even alive.

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Finding Gratitude in Grief

Feeling grateful for anything is not easy when we are in pain, but peace cannot come to us without the ability to truly feel grateful for who we are and all that we experience. In order to heal, we must be able to find meaning in every experience and value each person’s contribution to our journey. We must be able to recognize and appreciate the love, support and opportunities that come along that can aid our growth and healing without feeling resentment, mistrust, anger and fear.

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So, you’re a griever…now what?

This past weekend there was a horrific limo crash in upstate New York that killed all 20 people, 18 of them inside the vehicle. Reading past the headlines, I discovered one family alone lost four daughters aged 30 to 35. That stopped my breath for few seconds, trying to imagine my own loss and subsequent pain times four. I couldn’t do it. I’m not sure I could survive that level of human devastation.

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Self-Forgiveness in Grief

In grief, making choices to move forward, which is necessary for healing to occur, sometimes depends on how willing we are to forgive ourselves past decisions and actions. Guilt can hold us to doing things the same way and having the same thoughts for a long time. This is especially true if we are concerned that the decisions we need to make to kick start the change we desire may hurt someone else, especially those closest to us. Every decision we make affects our immediate loved ones.

As a griever, we can do some crazy things. I absolutely advocate that it is the right of every individual to decide what they need all of the time and that they have the freedom to make the appropriate choices to follow their path. Especially right after loss. However, in grief (especially complicated grief), because the journey is so twisted and complex, what we think we want and need at one point along the path may be entirely different from what we would have chosen at a later point.

If you are struggling with guilt or regret over a decision you made earlier, you could be keeping yourself from moving forward in a positive way today. Stop beating yourself up. Past actions belong in the past. It’s never too late to change your mind about the way you can and will do things today.

When you act with integrity every step of your journey in grief, there’s never a decision or action that requires forgiveness from others. Only from you for you. Be kind to yourself (being kind to others will naturally follow). Love you for who you are and everything you have and are experiencing. Forgive yourself any perceived wrongdoings. Remember, you’re going through a lot. Sometimes you’re going to act a little crazy. It’s also important to remember that all of your decisions, when they are made from the heart, are the right ones for you at exactly the right time. All of your steps are leading you somewhere, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Throughout my own grief, I found that people have come and gone from my life (and sometimes come back again). There have been ups and downs, turns and twists. I have always felt a tugging in my heart to make every decision I’ve made, even those that I would not make today. All of them have kept me on my path to heal. All have taught me invaluable lessons. I have also found that the better choices inevitably outnumbered the questionable ones. Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of them.

If you find you are struggling with a past situation that was a direct result of a decision you made, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a hug. If you are in early grief, trust that your decisions will become more focused as you gain clarity through healing, and restore balance to your life. If you are in later grief, same thing. No matter where we are in our grief journey, maintaining inner balance is necessary.

The more you can feel tenderness and love for yourself, the easier it will be to forgive yourself. Which simply put, means freeing yourself from any blame and guilt you feel for any past actions.


The Good Griever’s Journey – Part 2

So, you are a griever. Possibly laid flat on the floor by whatever loss brought you to your grief. Hold up! There’s help, even if it doesn’t feel like it today.

The first thing I did when I became bereaved was connect with other bereaved parents. I joined the Compassionate Friends support group (bereaved parents click links for information about support in the  USA and Canada), sought out books, online communities and any other resource I could think of. There were few available.  I was grateful for what I did find, but other than reassuring me I was not the only parent who had lost a child and that the pain I was struggling with was felt by all bereaved parents, I felt alone and lost. There was nothing to guide me to the healing I desperately wanted. Until, that is, I turned to the world of angels.

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The Good Griever’s Journey – Part 1

The journey in grief can be long and hard. Though I’ve experienced several losses since the death of my daughter in 2005, including both my parents, none have been as long or difficult to grieve as the death of my child. In my grief, there have been ups and downs and lows and highs, with no guarantee as to how anything in my life would turn out. The only thing I have remained certain of is that grief brings with it a rollercoaster ride of craziness. Where anything goes; nothing stays the same. Everything is constantly changing. Continue reading “The Good Griever’s Journey – Part 1”