Surviving versus Living – What’s the difference?

It is interesting that we are commonly known to survive loss. We are thought of in our grief as surviving loved ones. We are called suicide survivors after losing a loved one to suicide. But what it means to truly survive loss is not well understood or even talked about at all. It’s just a word that’s been assigned to the bereaved.

The literal meaning of the word “survive” is to remain alive after the death of someone or the cessation of something under adverse or unusual circumstances. And remaining alive versus living are two very different things. I’m sure everyone would agree that losing a child is the least favourable circumstance to be in and is unusual and adverse in every way imaginable. For most if not all bereaved parents, surviving their child’s death is about the only thing they can do. But it’s also true that many grievers in general simply remain alive without much or any feeling at all after losing a love of their life. Without hope and loss of direction, some people may never feel anything again.

Continue reading “Surviving versus Living – What’s the difference?”

Life After Death

The other day I came across this interview with Jeff Olsen speaking about his out of body experiences twenty years ago (and maybe near death though he didn’t specify), and his painful recovery after a car accident in which his wife and infant son both died. He was behind the wheel, therefore at fault (his words). He suffered numerous physical injuries including a leg amputation, and the same or more emotional ones trying to cope with his losses. His firstborn son, then aged 7, survived with barely a scratch. Miracle? Yes. Motivation for Jeff to stay in his body? Definitely yes. Again, his words.

Continue reading “Life After Death”

Finding Peace After Loss

As a bereaved parent, I’m still on my quest, but getting considerably closer to finding that place of total inner peace I’ve been wanting for so long. The kind of peace that I want, money can’t buy. No one can give it to me. The peace that I want, I know can only come through my ability to accept all things in my life as they have happened. And in all things, I can do this. All but one: accepting the loss of my daughter.

While it’s been an incredible journey of self-discovery to this point and there is no denying it’s doubtful I would have learned all that I have without the death of my child (I do believe in contracts between souls), this doesn’t mean that I like what has happened in any way. Nor has her death been easy to accept. Not her part in it or all the struggle I’ve been left with. From a purely spiritual perspective, it’s the easiest thing in the world to see how we agreed the contract between us to learn our respective lessons and fulfil our life obligations. From the physical (excuse my language) it’s been more like: “WTF? What just happened? What was I thinking????” (my ongoing inner voice battle.)

Continue reading “Finding Peace After Loss”

Assessing Your Personal Needs in Grief

After loss, life changes dramatically for everyone grieving the death. Whether it’s a parent or spouse, sibling or child you have lost, you will be feeling the impact of your loved one’s death in some way, as will every one of your family members. The more complicated or unexpected the death, the greater this impact will be. And it’s tough to support each other in grief, because everybody is going through something different at every stage. It can be a confusing time with everyone’s needs rapidly changing.

For some, grief will last a long time. For others, they will seemingly return to normal a lot sooner, which represents a struggle for anyone trying to understand a griever’s unique experience. It stands to reason that many relationships and sometimes even entire family units break down, especially after certain types of loss.

Continue reading “Assessing Your Personal Needs in Grief”

Loving Ourselves Through Grief

While some may think of it as vain or superficial, in the context of long-suffering agony, it is essential that everyone finds room in their heart to love themselves through their grief. Fully and completely.

The definition of love is to feel a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, such as a parent, child or friend. Self-love is defined as the instinct we have to preserve our own well-being (at all costs). Why then, would it be considered wrong and worthy of so much self-punishment (as many grievers succumb to) when loving ourselves through horrendous loss is the right thing to do? A loss that in our wildest imagination, we could never have prevented.

As a mom of my daughter who died by suicide in 2005, this latter point has kept me punishing myself to various extremes over the years, mostly experienced as mental and emotional conflict when I imagine all the various things I could and should have done differently to prevent her death. I’ve never quite been able to accept that there wasn’t more I could have done to save my child. Despite my many attempts to banish the tormenting thoughts from my mind, they keep coming back.

Continue reading “Loving Ourselves Through Grief”

Your Rights in Grief

I  know that grief is a difficult topic and we don’t discuss it much in the open. Yet, there isn’t one person not affected by grief in some way. What’s so sad and even shameful in western culture (or any other culture perpetuating this shame and secrecy)  is that we aren’t allowed to show our sadness from loss in public. At least not comfortably. Ever! And that needs to change. Because it isn’t only sadness we feel in grief. It’s a host of other emotions and difficulties we experience that can and do end up ruining people’s relationships, careers, finances and even families.

Continue reading “Your Rights in Grief”

7 Tips to Manage the Holidays

Most grievers will attest to the difficulty that many, if not all holidays, present after the loss of a loved one. With Christmas just around the corner (and all other celebrations taking place around the world at this time), for many bereaved individuals, coping with major holidays can present a huge challenge, no matter how long ago their loss. Trying to survive the endless parties and celebrations looking happy and feeling festive is hard.

Continue reading “7 Tips to Manage the Holidays”

Getting Grounded in Grief

As a bereaved mom of a beautiful daughter who died by suicide in 2005 at the age of twenty-two, I certainly know pain and suffering. Just like a lot of other people know pain and suffering who have lost someone to suicide, sudden and/or traumatic death. I have done a lot of work to heal from my pain over the years and have had tremendous success to this point, but it’s an ongoing journey.

Continue reading “Getting Grounded in Grief”

Understanding Limitations in Grief

From a purely physical perspective, I dislike the word “limitation”. It goes against every spiritual cell in my body. From the spiritual perspective, we are all perfect. Pain is an illusion. But as physical beings too, we experience a host of issues that seem totally contrary to one’s spiritual essence.

Until recently, I had a really hard time coming to terms with my obvious limitations that began immediately following my daughter’s suicide in 2005 and grew increasingly disruptive to my life over the years. Because we hear the phrase “return to normal” all the time after tragic loss and are conditioned to believe this is the best remedy to overcome grief, a great many limitations – both physical and mental – arise from any griever striving to reach a sense of “normalcy” again that is simply not possible. Especially for those dealing with complicated grief. Continue reading “Understanding Limitations in Grief”

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.

Continue reading “Kindness in Grief”