Grief is not a thing of beauty but it has helped me discover new parts of myself

It has taken me to the page, to a microphone, and yes, sometimes to bad decisions and booze

‘Bad things will happen, they will keep happening. But there will be little bursts of brilliance where the world feels impossibly wonderful just by sheer contrast.’


I’ve had an amazing two years, by anyone’s measure.

First, my mother died a very hard death from cancer. Then I ended my marriage, followed by a gut-wrenching estrangement from my formerly close father. I nearly bled to death in a storage room in a Sydney public hospital, and a few months after that my unborn baby died. It sounds like the plot of a B-grade movie. But here I am, staring myself down in the mirror each day urging myself to carry on, whispering: “Yes, this really is your life now. Yes, you must still shower and dress and go to work.” It is one thing to know figuratively that bad things can happen to you at any moment. It’s quite another to live that realisation over and over again.

When I was grieving my mother, I searched out the stories of people who experienced unfathomable loss. The Year of Magical Thinking became my bible. I followed Joan Didion as she stumbled her way through comprehending the death of her husband and daughter. Back then, my singular loss felt so big that only stories of utter tragedy seemed up to the task of providing me insight into the contours and trajectory of grief. But in time, we can become accustomed to almost anything.

I fear I have become one of those poor souls, like Didion, that people treat as an oracle. How could so much possibly happen to one person? How does she keep going? How did she make it through? Answers I used to search for in Didion’s writing, people now seek in me. Surely, with so much suffering must come wisdom.

Just like Didion, I don’t have any answers. As she puts it: “You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” This is how I feel, but with a kind of repetition that makes it seem almost idiotic I still don’t see it coming.

I am not stronger for my grief. Grieving is not a state of grace and there is no beauty in it. I can say, though, that grief has different flavours. Something I could not have understood until I’d sampled so many types. And grief has brought forth parts of me I didn’t know existed. Grief has taken me to the page, to a microphone, and yes, sometimes to bad decisions and booze.

When my mother died I had felt fury and injustice. My grief spilled over into every area of my life – giving me a certain wildness behind the eyes. From that place of indignation I began to write. I wrote about things, and I wrote in ways I never knew I could. Grief, it seemed, had at least given me a gift.

When my husband, father and I went our separate ways I spat and raged at the world. “I dare you,” I said to no one in particular, “to try and take more from me.” My anger at the destruction of my former life jumped off the page and for the first time I began to perform. I stood in a room of a hundred strangers and read letters I had written to my dead mother. Grief had now taken away my fear.

When I came within a whisper of losing my own life, I was more nonchalant. After a day spent in a hospital emergency room, more than half my blood gushed into my abdomen while I sat waiting for treatment. Afterwards, the doctors told me I nearly died. I fear grief, but I don’t fear death. Not being there to grieve the loss of my own young life, I was rattled but largely unaltered. A friend captured it well: “You are perhaps a little too comfortable with your own death these days.”

By the time my baby died, I longed for the energy of earlier grief. When in my second trimester they couldn’t find a heartbeat, I sobbed tears of defeat. The grief of my dead baby took me to bed. While it is perhaps the most unfair grief of them all, I no longer have the energy to be shocked or enraged by the injustice. Finally, grief has worn me out. There is no realisation, no undiscovered talents, no devil-may-care attitude. There is just exhaustion. A kind of existential exhaustion that no holiday or rest can cure.

I explain to friends: “I am just one of those people.” I just seem to have one of those lives that are marked by great fortune but also great loss. A dream career, an amazing partner, a beautiful home and unintelligible loss.

I have no other explanation. And somehow it brings me to a type of acceptance – bad things will happen, they will keep happening. But there will be little bursts of brilliance where the world feels impossibly wonderful just by sheer contrast.

No, there is nothing you can learn from me. I am not wiser than I was two years ago, and I have nothing to teach you. But come, come and marvel at the relentlessness of life and our ability to endure it. I can show you that with time, you too can become accustomed to almost anything.

Complete Article HERE!

When a Parent Dies

Ways to Help Yourself and Your Surviving Parent

A grief-support expert shares a letter she wrote to a grieving friend

By Amy Florian

Not too long ago, a dear friend’s dad suffered a major heart attack and died. At the funeral, there was little time for more than a brief exchange of words.

But, given my background in grieving support and education, I wanted to offer some advice to help her and her mom through the grieving process. So, that evening I wrote her a letter. I’m sharing it here because I believe it can be of help to anyone who has recently lost a parent and wants to help their surviving parent through the grief. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Katie,

The way-too-soon and totally unexpected death of your dad has hit you hard. It was clear at the services that your family is reeling, trying to comprehend what happened to you, to understand the enormity of this loss, and to figure out what to do now.

Leave behind the well-meaning compulsion to cheer each other up or keep looking on the bright side.

I’m glad I was able to attend the services to celebrate his life and mourn his death together, and I also know your grief has only begun.

I remember after my husband’s death, a few of the letters that people wrote were extremely helpful — not the ones telling me the writer’s own story of grief, as if I was supposed to experience the same thing and handle it in the same way, but those that contained hard-won wisdom from grieving people.

In that vein, I offer you some input that may be helpful to you and your mom, gleaned from my many years of providing grief education, facilitating grief support groups and counseling grieving people.

If any of this does not apply in your case or is not helpful, then set it aside. Everyone grieves uniquely and you don’t have to meet my (or anyone else’s) expectations.

Grief hurts. We don’t want to face the pain, the loneliness and the void that will never be filled in the same way again. But if we don’t, we won’t heal.

Grief that is suppressed, denied or ignored does not go away. It stays there, it festers and it will find a way to come back out and bite you in physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional ways.

But it also helps to try to set the grief aside sometimes, as if in a box on the shelf, and let yourself smile or enjoy life for a bit. Those times will sustain you.

Don’t be afraid of bringing up your dad, saying his name and telling the stories. Will it cause tears? Yes, sometimes, but that’s not because you brought it up. The tears are there anyway. It is healing to allow them to spill out, whether you are alone or especially when you share those tears with someone else who also loved him, whether it’s your mom or supportive friends who will let you cry with them.

Did you know that there are physiological chemicals in tears that relieve stress? Tears are our natural stress-relief mechanism when we are sad — that’s why we call it “having a good cry.” So, when you cry, you help yourself heal.

One final thing about tears. People often say they can’t start crying because if they do, they will never be able to stop. Do you know that has not happened in the history of humankind? No one has ever not been able to stop crying. Allow the healing to happen, facilitated by allowing tears when they are there.

As you support your mom, remember your job is not to “fix it” or to make her feel better. Your job is to be her companion, to be there for her whatever she is feeling.

Leave behind the well-meaning compulsion to cheer each other up or keep looking on the bright side. Instead, just keep checking in. Ask what kind of a day it is today — feeling up, down or all over the place?

Talk about when you miss your dad the most. Share your stories about things people say that are helpful, and the well-intentioned things people say that are not! Share what you each wish people knew about what you’re going through. Keep the lines of communication as open as possible, so you can pour your experience out to each other and gain comfort.

Keep in mind that grief takes a very long time. Expect to hit sad periods of time again weeks or months after the death. This is especially true when those “marker days” hit: his birthday (and yours), the wedding anniversary, Father’s Day, the holidays, the monthly and yearly anniversaries of his death.

You will be sad over and over again. You will be happy over and over again, and eventually the happiness will predominate. But expect a roller coaster of emotions — some hours and days will be better, and some will feel like disasters. Hang in there. As long as you continue doing the hard work of grief, you are healing, you will heal and you will get there.

Another word about those “marker days.” Your dad’s absence will be huge, and yet the tendency of most people around you will be to talk about anyone and everything except your dad.

The intention is good — they want to keep you from feeling sad. Yet, these are the times it is most important to say his name, share the memories and keep his legacy alive.

His life and the lessons he taught you are with you forever. His love is with you forever. You are a different person because of him, and no one can ever take that away from you. Keep his name, his stories and your memories alive, even as you let go of all the things that can no longer be.

These are just a few things that I hope can get you on the path to healing. My most fervent hope is that your family may heal, carrying memories and stories of your dad’s life with you even as you move into a future that will be different than you had planned.

I will check in regularly, just to see what’s happening and how you’re doing. I am here for you for the long haul, no matter what.

I hold you and your mom close to my heart. In these crazy, turbulent days, I wish you moments of peace, an occasional smile and continued healing.

Love and hugs,


Complete Article HERE!

6 thoughtful things to do after someone dies

When it comes to being helpful, actions can speak louder than words


When trying to provide help or comfort to someone who has recently lost a loved one, we’re likely to agonize over the right thing to say.

Sometimes the best way to help isn’t to say anything at all, but to do something specific that is supportive and meaningful.

Offers of support can be open-ended and vague, and often the last thing a grieving person wants to do is devote effort to an ambiguous offer of food or company.

Knowing the best way to lend a hand can be difficult, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying.

With that in mind, Considerable spoke to experts in the field of grief and trauma recovery, who helped us create this list of 6 thoughtful actions to do when someone has passed away.

1. Be present and be persistent

Many folks experiencing a loss receive an abundance of attention and help in the direct aftermath of a death, only to encounter a substantial drop-off in communication as the weeks pass by.  That follow-up period is an important time to remain available to the bereaved.

Dea Dean, family therapist and licensed professional counselor in Ridgeland, Mississippi, emphasized the importance of staying in touch after the initial period of shock following the death and funeral.

Dean recommends not leaving plans open-ended. “Set a reminder in your phone once a week to text,” she said, “and ask to fulfill a specific need.”

And if that offer gets turned down, don’t get discouraged. “Offer to pick up your friend and take them somewhere and let them know you’ll continue to ask. Don’t stop offering and inviting if they decline. Keep pursuing them,” Dean said.

Kriss Kevorkian, PhD. MSW, an expert in grief, death, and dying, agrees: “Continue to be available and present for the bereaved. Keep in touch week after week as best you can. In all these actions, please make sure not to take over the conversation.

“Just be present, loving and your authentic self in compassion to another,” Kevorkian continued. “Most people want to have someone check in and visit.”

2. Help around the house

There’s no shortage of chores and small tasks that can be of great assistance. You can grocery shop; help with the laundry; clean closets, cellars, and attics; care for pets; or do yard work.

In addition, think about simple ways you can offer relief to the grieving person that aren’t cooking and cleaning.

Are they planning on sending thank-you notes to people who attended the funeral service? Consider buying them the cards and stamping them.

Dealing with the legal documents that follow a death can also be a huge hassle for the bereaved.

If you have skills in this department, help the mourner organize the task, make lists of people to call or meet with, and look up addresses online.

3. Get them out of the house

Being physically active and connecting with nature can be a great way to help ease feelings of isolation and sadness. A long walk in the fresh air can be revitalizing, or if there’s a specific game or activity (tennis, bowling, swimming) you have done with the person in the past, try that.

Just as constructive: Bring them to a coffee shop or museum. And if they aren’t feeling it, no big deal.

Dean said, “Let them know they don’t have to hide how they’re feeling and that you’re open to staying out or going home at their leisure.”

4. Memorialize the deceased

Helping to commemorate the deceased, whether individually or collaborative with others, is a thoughtful gesture that can help evoke positive memories for the mourner.

Whether it’s a piece of art, a poem, or a framed photograph, showing you care with a creative work is an extremely nice gesture.

Also consider making a charitable donation in the name of the deceased.

5. Avoid bringing food and flowers

Think outside the box. Bringing food and flowers is a thoughtful gesture, and of course providing food can be especially helpful as someone deals with a traumatic loss and lacks the time and energy to cook.

But Sherry Cormier, licensed psychologist and a certified bereavement trauma specialist in Annapolis, Maryland, offers this advice: “Be very careful about the ‘usual suspects’ given to grievers, e.g. food and flowers. Some people are allergic to flowers and flowers die and have to be cared for at a time when grievers don’t feel like caring for anything. Often grief survivors are inundated with food and end up throwing food away. Also there is the issue of food allergies.”

Instead of bringing over a casserole, try paying for a meal service that can be used when the mourner really needs it.

And instead of flowers, try a gift card or a certificate for a massage.

6. Listen

“Listening is a huge gift,” Cormier said. “Grievers may need to talk and tell the story over and over to help them heal. If you can simply be present and listen and avoid being prescriptive, this is wonderful.”

Making yourself available while being patient and comfortable not having answers or the “right words” is important.

According to Dea, “If we give them the space to talk freely (without believing we have to take their pain away or do anything to fix it) it can bring them great relief.”

Dr. Kevorkian agrees: “The best action to take in this situation is to listen and not interrupt with your own story or judge what the other person is sharing.”

And as you consider the best ways of helping someone, make sure you cater to their personality and their needs.  No two people grieve the same way or on the same timeline, so be flexible with both your time and your expectations.  

Complete Article HERE!

Finding Empowerment Through Grief

It may be one of the hardest things we’ll go through in our lives, but how can grief help us find empowerment and strength even when it seems impossible?


Grief is one of the most universal experiences that we can go through as human beings. Regardless of how each of us learns to cope with the loss of a loved one, one thing is certain – the way we reflect on loss can teach us valuable lessons that we carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Though it may seem impossible in the early stages of grief, finding empowerment in times of tragedy can be an invaluable tool in the healing process. Even if death has no religious or spiritual connotations for you, it is still possible to transform these emotions into a sense of serenity, whether it takes weeks, months or even years.

Learning Compassion

While your circumstances may vary, the likelihood is that loss, grief and even organising a funeral will come with a great deal of pain. When we experience emotional turmoil or suffering in our lives, we often turn to those around us for help and support. However, when someone dies, it is likely that you will not be the only one experiencing this loss and pain, and will spend time in a period of shared grieving.

In the early stages of grief – particularly in the days leading up to and following a funeral – emotions can run high, and everyone around you will be dealing with their grief in their own personal way. While it may be extremely difficult, taking heart in your shared memories, and the impact that person had on your lives can foster a sense of compassion for your friends and family, as you help one another to find strength and peace.

It’s common for this period of shared grieving to help strengthen these relationships, as you learn to support and share with one another.

But grief doesn’t just teach us to feel compassion for others. In order to feel empowered and at peace, it is important that we learn to feel just as much compassion for ourselves. Grieving can be difficult if you are the family member in charge of organising a funeral, or if you have other responsibilities in your life.

Instead of ‘staying strong’ and bottling up these feelings, giving yourself the space to grieve can help you to put those responsibilities in perspective. Grieving teaches us both the fragility and the value of life, and encourages us to be kinder to ourselves and at peace with our own feelings – something that will invaluable as you move on with the rest of your life.

Living Each Day

However old you are, the death of a loved one has a way of putting things in perspective, and making us re-evaluate our priorities. In an ideal world, of course, it shouldn’t take a bereavement for us to live our lives to the fullest. Unfortunately, many of us are living increasingly busy, hectic and stressful lifestyles that leave very little time for self-reflection. Sometimes changing our lifestyles is just too scary until we have the impetus to do so.

When someone passes, it can be a harsh reminder of the time we’ve spent so far, and the time we have left to pursue our goals. When a loved one dies suddenly or unexpectedly, this awakening can be even more painful and jarring.

In certain situations, especially for families that have lost a loved one to a long, terminal illness, it could be their own encouragement that forces you to break those negative habits. For some, witnessing the way in which their loved one embraces all that life has to offer towards the end of their own life can be an inspirational experience, and a shining example to follow.

Whatever the reason, it is perfectly normal to feel the sense that “life’s too short” after losing someone you love, and it’s fine to acknowledge the value in this. As long as it does not lead to destructive behaviour for you or your family, this attitude can often lead to a happier and healthier future.

Remembering the Past, Looking to the Future

Grief can help you look to the future in more ways than one – and this doesn’t always mean taking a spontaneous round-the-world trip. The early stages of grief are hard, and it’s understandable for moving on to feel disrespectful or even impossible, almost as though you are dishonouring their memory.

As painful as it may be, however, grief has a way of reminding us that life goes on even after people pass. The only way to create experiences and memories for future generations is to carry on living after they are no longer with us, and live in the manner that they would like to have seen.

For some people, reminiscing about the past while trying to move on into the future is the hardest part of the grieving process. You may fall on either side of the spectrum when it comes to navigating this process: some choose to close themselves off from any and all memories, and will not even speak of their loved one; others will fill their home with photographs and sentimental items, and seek to remember the good times they spent together.

We all grieve differently, and there is no correct way in which to deal with this, or any part of the grieving process. If you are weighed down by memories, however, then incorporating the positive and happy memories while still living your own life can be a positive way of learning how to move on.

Remembering the lives that our loved ones have lived can also empower and encourage us, helping us to learn from their own experiences, achievements and mistakes. Learning from those that have passed even after they are gone reminds us that they can still live on in our memories, affecting our choices and the generations to come.

Learning to be Grateful  

Well-wishing friends may have approached you with cliches such as “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”, and they can easily seem tired and trite. But for some, this precise mentality be a real help when learning to deal with the loss of someone close.

At first, the feeling of love can seem like an unnecessary burden – after all, it is because we love that we feel pain when someone is no longer with us. However, the gratitude that comes to many of us after the passing of a loved one is a very special gift, and is one of the most powerful grieving tools available to us. Though it may be an unwanted gift, especially at first, it is a gift nonetheless.

There are, after all, plenty of people in the world who do not have these familial bonds, or anyone close or dear to them. While the grieving process is so much harder when it is for a person that was dearly loved, it can remind us of how lucky we are to have people in our lives that we wish we hadn’t lost.

This outlook may not come readily when you are first grieving; it may take time, practice, and further loss. When we arrive at it, however, it can change the feeling of grief from a negative and crippling experience to something more positive and hopeful – a chance to cherish the bonds that tie us together.

The death of someone can be a tremendous lesson in what it actually means to live. It offers us a period of reflection that we don’t always have the ability to tap into in our daily grind, and a chance to treasure what we have as much as what we’ve lost. It may not happen overnight, but it is possible that your final stage of grief will change too – transcending acceptance to reach a point of genuine healing.

Complete Article HERE!

Solace after suicide…

My journey to forgiveness

by The Listener

For Katie Anders*, coping with suicide grief means remembering how her husband lived, not how he died.

Every suicide story that hits the headlines stirs the pain for those of us who have been bereaved by such a loss. The headlines are bigger and somehow more shocking when such high-profile names as Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade join those of our loved ones. But the grief for those left is the same.

I lost the love of my life to suicide. He was middle-aged, very successful in his profession and loved by family and a wonderful group of friends.

Our communities have such a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in the face of suicides. It is in the crisis period leading up to a suicide that there is the chance for effective intervention, and yet there is little effective help.

And, yes, there is a still a stigma around mental health. For us, it meant we had to protect my husband’s reputation for when he returned to work. The professions are not a lot more enlightened than anyone else.

The crash happened one May day. I walked in on him sitting at his desk at work, and was shocked to find him weeping. He said, “I can’t do this any more.”

We visited our GP and at first it seemed like exhaustion; just plain burnout. We had just come back from three weeks’ travelling and he hadn’t slept well; he had returned to a mountain of work. It was a job he loved and in which he had quietly excelled. He was a gentle-natured man who worked in a world of ambitious colleagues and he had forged a different path to the top. He was respected by most, admired by many.

We quickly arranged for his work to be done by others and he took “stress leave”. Within weeks, it was clear the malevolent black dog of depression was stalking him. We did all the right things: exercise and a good diet. He had great support from loved ones. He began using antidepressants and sleeping tablets. We saw an occupational psychologist, who was enormously helpful. Yet still the black dog circled.

Weeks passed. Then one day I found him curled into himself on a chair, his back to me. I tried to engage him, but he wouldn’t look at me. I took his face in my hands, forcing him to meet my eyes. I demanded to know what he was thinking, but in reality I knew.

He had reached a tipping point. We urgently needed more expertise. An acquaintance who was a good psychiatrist agreed to see him immediately (and privately).

I was determinedly optimistic we would get through it. We were a “lucky couple” whose marriage had fulfilled each of us. We laughed a lot and loved a lot. We had lovely children, now grown and forging their own lives. Many saw our marriage as one of the successful ones; we both thought so, too.

His promise to me that he wouldn’t act on his thoughts seemed to be enough to hold him back from the edge – that and the increasingly heavy doses of medication he needed. We began cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with another psychologist.

A few weeks later, things seemed to be moving in the right direction until some odd things started to happen. The medication had tipped him into a manic state, so he had to withdraw from all the antidepressants. The psychiatrist felt that a prior serious head injury had probably caused the manic response, so mood-stabilising drugs were required.

Some normalcy began to return to our lives. My husband continued his programme of health and fitness and after a few weeks, he seemed well enough to return to work for short periods. We breathed easier.

But then an emotionally stressful event occurred: he was desperately concerned about someone close who was in strife overseas. His sleep was seriously disrupted and he was very worried. The depression was renewing its grip and as the antidepressants were now contraindicated, we were at a loss for effective solutions.

The psychiatrist hoped that since the relapse was in its early stages, we could work to stop its progression by using mindfulness meditation and more CBT and counselling. He was very low, but again, he reiterated his promise to me.

Three days later, he was dead. The black dog’s work was done.

*The writer’s name has been changed.

Questions and guilt

On the night he died, I sat at his bedside, shattered by the horrific development, the crashing grief threatening to crush us all. I was full of confusing questions and guilt. How could he have done this? How could he have walked past me as I slept and not woken me and sought my help?

Sometime in the wee hours, I decided to write him a final letter. And as I began, some things crystallised. I needed to forgive him before we let him go. I read him my letter aloud, then later repeated the words at his funeral. That night, wracked with the deepest pain, I told him, “The man who did this thing was a man in the grip of a fierce depression. It was the depression that broke the promise, not the man that we love. That’s why, distraught as I am, I have to forgive you, because all that I know and have experienced of you through all the years tells me that you never wanted to hurt us, never wanted to leave us.”

Some months later, I heard someone (also bereaved by suicide) on a radio programme put it very succinctly: her husband hadn’t been leaving her or her children, he was leaving himself.

Years before, I had read Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ book On Death and Dying and, later, I trained and worked as a volunteer with terminally ill people, and learnt about bereavement support.

It’s accepted now that work around the stages and processes of grief was too rigid. Each grief experience is unique and people don’t necessarily experience all the stages or go through them in any particular order. For example, while others felt anger at my husband, I never have. Even pathetic attempts to somehow manufacture anger failed. How could I be angry at someone so broken?

In the aftermath, I felt the deepest sadness for him, for his loss, for all that he would never get to experience. I felt devastatingly sad for our kids. But for me, the grieving process was delayed by my upbringing. It held messages of “Don’t you feel sorry for yourself” and “Pick yourself up and get on with it”.

It took a long time to let myself feel the full devastation of my own loss. The numbing effects of shock meant that I walked around in a world that felt surreal, that simply couldn’t be true. This wasn’t how our love story was supposed to end. We were supposed to grow old together, travel, have grandchildren.

Tortuous paths

Suicide grief holds so many “If only …” and “What if …” questions. What if I had heard him get out of bed? What if I had handcuffed him to me to keep him safe? What if he had slept through those darkest hours before dawn and woken to sunshine?

The “what ifs” are where the self-torture lies. I felt so guilty that I struggled to want to live. Sometimes I still feel surprised that I didn’t die of the brokenness I felt.

Logic says there is no useful purpose in following these tortuous paths. But some years on, they still come into my mind and I speak to those thoughts as firmly and logically as I can.

I learnt a lot from my counsellor about self-forgiveness. It is more of a journey than a destination. Someone spoke to me about the idea of practising my husband’s presence rather than his absence. It seemed to break down some of the enormity of it all. If I had to completely and immediately accept his absence from my life, you might as well have asked me to swim the Atlantic. But if I could practise his presence, which permeated my life, while slowly adjusting to his loss, then it felt more like paddling in the waves at the water’s edge and not getting completely out of my depth.

Practising his presence is simply being mindful of his hand in the life I continue to live. It’s being able to access his way of thinking an issue through. His presence is in the millions of memories. It’s practising his habits of observing and appreciating the beauty around. He is visible in his imprinting on our kids … aspects of him in their personalities. It’s in watching rugby with my daughter and shouting the way he shouted. It’s in the kids’ love of language and awful puns. It’s in the thousands of photos taken over the years.

We remember how he lived and not how he died, but the truth is that suicide grief is a unique grief. People aren’t comfortable around it. I accept now that even if my life should suddenly become deliriously happy, the loss of such a precious partner through suicide will forever be a hugely black awfulness on its timeline.

Actress Dawn French said that when her father committed suicide, it was like a bomb went off in their family. It’s an apt description. My life is forever changed, my confidence diminished and my happy moments are often tinged with poignancy. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I feel my heart carries a permanent scarring.

Few understand the complexity and longevity of suicide pain. It isn’t easy, as one friend put it, to “move forward” as a simple act of will. If my husband had died of a heart attack or cancer, I know that grief might have been easier to move on from.

Yet I take joy in our amazing children, their partners and now a grandchild. I am fortunate in having some close friends. I try not to let the manner of his dying take more than it should. Above all, he wouldn’t want that and he would hate the pain that his suicide caused. Despite it all, I will be forever grateful that my life was greatly enriched by a truly lovely man.

Complete Article HERE!

Tips for Helping Grieving Children

Doctors today have documented evidence to demonstrate that grieving can, in fact, make children sick. Health issues such as skin problems, cardiovascular disease and even cancer can often track their onset to a painful event translated as grief. Traumatic loss is so abhorrent to the mind that children often have difficulty coping. Children today have […]


Doctors today have documented evidence to demonstrate that grieving can, in fact, make children sick.

Health issues such as skin problems, cardiovascular disease and even cancer can often track their onset to a painful event translated as grief. Traumatic loss is so abhorrent to the mind that children often have difficulty coping.

Children today have numerous opportunities to distract themselves from grieving properly; i.e. video games, computers and television. In my book, The Only Way Out is Through, I share some insight into working through grief. Here are some tips for parents and caregivers to help children deal with grievances in a healthy manner.

Tips for Nurturing Bereaved Children

  • Grieving children must get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Exercise is also very important; however, remember that fatigue is often a characteristic of both loss and depression.
  • Encourage a grieving child to express and vent shock, anger and fear. This will help the child stay connected to life and can re-establish trust in what has become an unsafe world.
  • Children should be allowed to participate in the rituals of saying goodbye. This will give them a sense of realty and closure to this unthinkable event.
  • Parents or caregivers of grief-stricken children should encourage their child to participate in weekly therapeutic groups with other children who have encountered the same kind of loss.

Complete Article HERE!

Here’s Some Tips That Will Help Your Kids Deal With Bereavement

by Anthony Martin

It’s difficult explaining death to a child, especially the loss of a relative. You might have questions about how to begin the conversation, or you might feel uncertain about what to say.

Naturally, you want to protect your child from feeling the same pain you are experiencing, but it is crucial that you speak honestly and openly about the situation.

Helping your child understand grief and loss is best for their emotional health and well-being.

Explaining Death to a Child

Children might not understand that death is permanent. They may ask questions like, “When is Mommy coming back?”

Although it may seem gentler to use phrases such as “passed away” or “went to sleep,” it can be confusing. Try to say terms like “dead” or “died” to help them understand better.

Share basic facts when you feel it is appropriate to help settle a child’s curiosity about death. It’s important to answer questions your child has simply and directly, and it’s OK to admit that you don’t have all of the answers. Try to remain concrete in your explanation by saying something like, “a person’s body stops working when they die.”

Even though older children may understand death better than younger children, it may still be difficult for them to know how it could happen to someone so close to them. That’s when it is essential to explain that death is a natural part of everyone’s life cycle.

Differences in Bereavement by Age

Bereavement differs for everyone, but at specific developmental stages in a child’s life, it can look notably different.

  • Babies/Toddlers: Although at this age, children might not have the language to say how and what they are feeling or have a complete understanding of death, they can still experience separation and loss. They may pick up on the distressful feelings of those around them.
  • Preschoolers: Children at this age might find it hard to grasp that death is permanent. They need a lot of reassurance because they are at a stage of magical thinking. They may believe that someone will come back to life again or that they made the person die.
  • Primary-School Children: At this age, children may still have some confused thoughts about death and may feel that is something temporary. They may also think that the person can still feel things like hunger or cold. They may ask direct questions about where the person is and what happened to them.
  • Older Children: By this age, children know that death is not temporary. They are more aware of how adults and others are reacting to death, so it’s important to talk honestly about events and feelings. They need regular reassurance that their grief is understood.
  • Adolescents: Teenagers may react like younger children or have reactions akin to those of an adult. They will probably want to spend more time with friends than with family for support. Their feelings may be overwhelming, and although they can appear to be fine, inside, they may be genuinely hurting or suppressing how they feel.

Emotions That Accompany Grief

There is no one right way to grieve. It’s common for children to express many emotions, just like adults, but they may express them differently.

They may feel shock, guilt, sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, loneliness, and helplessness. All of these feelings are normal. They may feel unpleasant, but they are all elements of the process of grieving.

It’s important to help your child accept how they are feeling and not push them away or deny their feelings. It’s painful to go through bereavement, but helping them connect with their emotions is a good step toward healing.

Ways to Help Kids Cope

Children need to know that they are not alone. Having support from family and friends and being able to talk to them can be very beneficial.

They may also need spiritual support if that helps them grieve better. You may want to seek counseling for your child to help them deal with their emotions and the loss.

Encourage children to read books or poetry when they are grieving. Motivate them to exercise, and make sure they are continuing to eat healthy foods. Allow them to take time to relax.

You and your child may need time away from work and school. Help your child to cope by engaging in social activities.

The most significant thing children can do to deal with death is to be patient with themselves and allow themselves to feel the emotions related to the loss.

Below are some helpful resources to assist with this very difficult matter.

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