We haven’t had an edition of our Cemetery Art exhibition in several weeks. No time like the present to remedy that.
I have the pleasure of announcing an upcoming webinar on the topic of anticipatory grief with my colleague, Janet Edmunson.
Registration form and more information HERE!
What’s this grief I feel? My loved one hasn’t died yet!
by Janet Edmunson, M.Ed.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
For family and professional caregivers
All attendees will be entered into a drawing for Janet Edmunson’s book Finding Meaning with Charles.
7:00 p.m. (Eastern)
6:00 p.m. (Central)
5:00 p.m. (Mountain)
4:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Webinar Description: Caregivers often face grief before their loved one dies. Professionals call that anticipatory grief. In this webinar, Janet will share her experiences with anticipatory grief along with ways to help cope with it while you continue to care for your loved one.
About Janet: Janet has over 30 years’ experience in the health promotion field. She retired in May 2007 as Director of the Prevention & Wellness for a staff of 20 at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Since retirement, as President of JME Insights, she is a motivational speaker having spoken to hundreds of groups across the U.S. While working full-time, Janet took care of her husband, Charles, during the five years he fought a movement disorder with dementia. Janet wrote about her experience in her book, Finding Meaning with Charles. Janet has a Master’s degree from Georgia State University. She resides in South Portland, Maine.
Remembrance – a poem by Emily Bronte
Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time’s all-severing wave?
Cold in the earth, and fifteen wild Decembers
From those brown hills have melted into spring:
Faithful indeed is the spirit that remembers
After such years of change and suffering!
Sweet Love of youth, forgive if I forget thee,
While the world’s tide is bearing me along:
Sterner desires and other hopes beset me,
Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!
No later light has lightened up my heaven;
No second morn has ever shone for me:
All my life’s bliss from thy dear life was given,
All my life’s bliss is in the grave with thee.
But when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even Despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy;
Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.
And even yet I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in Memory’s rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?
I thought it might be time for a little variation on the Cemetery Art Project we’re doing here. Let’s take a look at death masks.
DRESSED in miniskirts barely covering their hips, the two girls took to the neon-lit stage and moved vigorously to the loud pumping pop music. Their job: to appease the wandering spirits.
As the temple facade in the background changed colour from the fireworks lighting up the Taiwanese night sky, the show climaxed with pole-dancing and striptease in front of an audience consisting of men, women and children.
“This is hard work but I need to make a living,” said 18 year-old En En, out of breath after stripping for the crowd during the recent religious festival.
En En had just earned Tw$3000 ($100) for her act, which began on stage, but ended as she mingled with the audience, letting men touch her for tips.
Folk religion in Taiwan is a unique mixture of the spiritual and the earthly, and one of its most remarkable manifestations is the practice of hiring showgirls to perform at festivals, weddings, and even funerals.
The girls work on “electronic flower cars” – specially designed trucks equipped with light and sound equipment that can become a stage, allowing them to travel to performances often held in smaller cities and rural areas.
“The groups attract crowds to our events and they perform for the gods and the spirits to seek blessings,” said Chen Chung-hsien, an official at Wu Fu Temple, a Taoist landmark in north Taiwan’s Taoyuan county.
“They have become part of our religion and folk culture.”
At 26, Chiang Pei-ying is already a veteran performer with nearly 20 years of experience, travelling across Taiwan with her father and two sisters for their family business to entertain audiences – both alive and dead.
A dancer performs during a temple festival in northern Taiwan. Picture: AFP
Ms Chiang made her debut when she was in kindergarten because she liked singing and dancing on stage and has become a celebrity performer with her sisters, charging up to Tw$80,000 for a 20-minute show.
She said she enjoys her line of work, even if she has to deal with some odd requests from customers such as walking around coffins and singing for the deceased at funerals.
“I’ve watched this since I was little so it’s nothing peculiar for me. Performing for the dead is just like performing for the living people,” she said.
“They liked to sing when they were alive and their relatives thought they would have liked to have somebody sing for them in the end. For me, I get good tips and I hope I am accumulating good karma too.”
Other performers, however, make much less money and tend to be more discreet about their job, especially those who still do striptease despite risking arrest.
Stripping nude is rarely seen in public now because it is a criminal offence, but partial stripping is still performed at festivals, private parties and funerals, people in the business say.
“Some people like going to hostess clubs, so when they pass away their relatives arrange striptease to reflect their interests while they were alive,” said Chiang Wan-yuan, Pei-ying’s father and a 30-year veteran in the business.
It is difficult to imagine a similar show going on outside a European village church, and some local critics have dismissed the practice, which emerged in the 1970s, as shocking and vulgar.
Others, however, see it as a natural extension of a traditional folk culture lacking in the sharp separation of sex and religion often seen in other parts of the world.
Marc Moskowitz, an anthropologist at the University of South Carolina, said the practice evolved out of the special Chinese concept of “hot and noisy”, which brims with positive connotations.
“In traditional Chinese and contemporary Taiwanese culture this signifies that for an event to be fun or noteworthy it must be full of noise and crowds,” said Mr Moskowitz, who shot a documentary “Dancing for the Dead” in 2011.
He added most people who watched his work appeared to enjoy it and recognise this practice as an “interesting and unique cultural phenomenon,” which to his knowledge is only found in Taiwan.
“As I watched these performances I came to appreciate the idea of celebrating someone’s life to help assuage the feelings of grief,” he said.
Complete Article HERE!
These are all so sad.
I have this great opportunity to cross post, here, a posting I made this morning on my sex advice site, Dr Dick’s Sex Advice.
How do you jump back into the game when your partner passed away suddenly? Getting really horny but its still awkward to actually do it.
Good question, LD. You say you’re feeling awkward. Why exactly? Is it because you’re out of practice with the whole dating thing? Are you concerned that people might think you’re jumping the gun, trying to get back into the game before your partner is cold in the grave? People can be pretty heartless about this. Or, is your awkwardness associated with your grief?
Grief has a profound effect on every aspect of our lives. Yet there is hardly any literature on the effects grief has on our sexuality. To my mind, grief is the leading causes of sexual dysfunction for those who have experienced the death of a partner.
Allow me a bit of time here for one of my pet spiels. Healing and helping professionals often misdiagnose grief. I want to make one thing clear, grief is not depression. Treating grief with an antidepressant is counterproductive. It can actually take away the impetus to resolve the grief and get on the rest of one’s life.
Making sure that you have processed your grief may eliminate some of your awkwardness you are currently experiencing. This is something I’m pretty familiar with. A good portion of my private practice is with sick, elder and dying people and their friends and family who survive them. I know the impact a terminal illness and dying process can have on the surviving spouse or partner. We often go into survival mode, shutting down so much of ourselves in an effort to have the strength to cope with this life-altering experience. Of course, trying to kick-start our life afterwards is often a monumental effort. Without the support and guidance of a professional or a group of similarly challenged people, some of us just sink to the lowest common denominator.
I believe in the resilience of the human spirit. I believe that we can honor our dead and continue to live and love. It sounds to me like you have a desire to get on with your life, LD, to fill the void, to make new connections, but you simply don’t know how. Acknowledging that fact is a real good place to begin.
Perhaps you could start by reawakening your sexuality through self-pleasuring. Reconnect with your body and the joy it can bring you. Reestablishing a social life will no doubt follow, slowly at first. But the inevitable tug of the need for human-to-human contact will draw you, if you let it. Remember the best testament to those who have died is to continue to celebrate life itself.
Allow me to draw your attention to my latest book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying; Enhancing The End Of Life. Actually it’s more of a workbook then a text and while its primarily target are those currently facing their mortality it’s not exclusively for them. Concerned family and friends, healing and helping professionals, lawyers, clergy, teachers, students, and those grieving a death will all benefit from participating in the interactive environment the book provides.
Of special interest to you will be Chapter 6, Don’t Stop. My good friend and colleague, Dr Cheryl Cohen Greene, joins me in presenting this chapter on sex and intimacy concerns. Like I said above, there is a dearth of information about this timely topic for sick, elder and dying people as well as those who are grieving. So I am delighted that my book helps break this deafening silence.
I hope you take the time to write back, LD. I’d very much like to keep tabs on how you are doing.