What Is Grief Counseling?

By Shishira Sreenivas

Coming to terms with feelings of loss and making sense of it can be a painful process. Grief is a common emotional and sometimes physical response that you feel when you experience loss after a disaster or a traumatic event. Bereavement is a type of grief you experience when you lose a loved one.

Grief occurs across all ages, but adults, adolescents, and children may process it differently. Feelings can range from deep sadness to bursts of anger. Everyone grieves in their own way and time frame depending on the personal attachment to what was lost.

If the loss is too overwhelming to perform your day-to-day tasks, it can take a significant toll on your mental health. You may need to reach out to a professional therapist, psychologist, or a counselor to help you work through the grief.

Understanding Grief Counseling

Grief counseling is a type of professional therapy designed to help you work through the various stages and range of emotions you may feel after a loss.

How you experience grief can vary from person to person. People commonly refer to the five familiar stages of grief, initially coined in 1969 by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. They are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

When you’re grieving, you may go through at least two of the five stages. But it is important to note that there is no common pathway for grief. Everyone experiences it differently. Your grief reactions and signs may include:

  • Shock
  • Disbelief and denial
  • Anxiety
  • Distress
  • Anger
  • Periods of sadness
  • Loss of sleep
  • Loss of appetite

Counseling will help you address some of the reactions as you process your new reality. Some people recover from grief usually within 6 months, but for some others, it may take up to a year or longer.

What Are the Different Types of Grief?

Depending on the type of loss and the belief and relationship you held, it may affect the type of grief you may experience.

Complicated Grief

With time, many overcome or learn to manage grief. But for about 15% of the people who lose a loved one, they may experience a “complicated grief.” It’s a type of grief in which you may have symptoms and signs that last for up to a year or longer.

While the intensity may vary from person to person depending on the context of the loss, the symptoms you may feel may be severe. Complicated grief may make it hard to get through your daily routine and function properly.

Severe symptoms can include:

  • Intense sadness and emotional pain
  • Feeling empty and hopeless
  • Yearning to be reunited with your loved one
  • Constantly thinking about the deceased person or how they died
  • Difficulty engaging in happy memories of the lost person
  • Avoiding anything that reminds you of the loved one
  • A reduced sense of identity
  • Detachment and isolation from friends and family
  • Lack of desire to make plans or have interests

Traumatic Grief

If you lose someone you care about in a traumatic event like an accident or if you witness them die or become severely injured, you could be experiencing traumatic grief. It mostly occurs when you’re unprepared to lose someone suddenly.

Symptoms of traumatic grief may creep up on you hours, days, weeks, or even months after the traumatic incidents. The feelings of grief may be very strong and frightening to deal with. If this happen to you, reach out to your doctor and seek help.

Broken Heart Syndrome

While grief is highly unlikely to kill you, the severe stress from living with it may affect your heart health in situations of sudden shock. If the grief is very intense, your body may release stress hormones that may cause part of your heart to swell and pump blood unevenly and beat irregularly. It can cause chest pains similar to a heart attack. This is called broken heart syndrome.

Most people who experience this type of grief recover in a couple of weeks and may not have a similar event again. Women are more prone to broken heart syndrome than men. Grief counseling can help you develop strategies to deal or manage grief during the recovery process.

Depression and Grief

Grief’s symptoms like lack of joy, anxiety, or sense of despair, can look a lot like depression. However, they are different. But if you’re grieving, it could trigger a depressive episode and make the process of grieving worse. Talk to a therapist or a counselor. They can come with strategies to manage depressive symptoms.

What Are the Techniques Used in Grief Counseling?

The goals of grief or bereavement counseling can include four main stages such as:

  • To accept the reality of the loss
  • To work through the pain of grief
  • To adjust to life without the deceased
  • To maintain a connection with a loved one you’ve lost while finding ways to move on with life

Psychologists or therapists may use techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy or psychotherapy to help you through the grieving process.

Techniques used in grief counseling can include:

  • Guiding you to talk about the loss, who the person was to you, and the circumstances surrounding the death
  • Asking you to describe your emotions and feelings
  • Building coping strategies to deal with tough days like holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays
  • Learning to accept that grief is a normal process and to be expected
  • Identifying unhealthy behaviors that may be harmful for day-to-day life
  • Building new relationships
  • Developing a new identity

If you’re grieving, it’s also important to take care of yourself. Pay attention to any physical, mental, social, or emotional stressors or signs. Don’t ignore them. Instead, let your doctor or therapist know about it.

Grief Counseling for Children

Unlike adults, kids may experience grief differently. They may not understand the loss and what it means to their reality at first. They may often look to adults on how to mourn and process their feelings. Being direct and honest with them may help them assess and accept their grief.

If a child loses a close family member, they may benefit from a counselor for children to learn to grieve in a healthy manner or also use family therapy as unit. Activities like storytelling and play may also help them understand the loss.

How Can Grief Counseling Help?

Psychologists, therapists, or grief counselors are licensed professionals who are equipped to help you deal and manage emotions of grief like anxiety, guilt, or fear that you may associate with the loss of a loved one.

They can help you build resilience and coping strategies to deal with the intense sadness you may feel throughout your grieving process and help you find ways to move on in a meaningful way.

How Can You Get Started?

If you’ve experience loss and going through the stages of grief, it’s important to know that it takes time. But if the grief is too overwhelming and is disrupting your ability to function daily, it’s best to seek professional help.

It’s never too early nor too late. However, the earlier you seek help, the sooner you can build strategies to help you cope with changes.

If you’re looking for grief counseling, it might be a good idea to check if your health insurance provider covers the cost of the sessions. If it doesn’t, you can seek more affordable options like virtual counseling, telehealth, support groups, or attend in-person meetings with others who are experiencing similar forms of grief.

There are also apps you can download that will give you access to a licensed and experienced therapist for reasonable prices.

Complete Article HERE!

It’s Time to Change the Toxic Narrative Around Grief

By Katie C. Reilly

The weekend that I graduated from law school in 2009, my mother told me that she had been diagnosed with ALS. After watching her lose the ability to speak, eat and eventually breathe, she died the following summer. After two battles with cancer, my father passed away four summers later.

Before my parents died, I was blissfully unaware of mental health. A heartbreak was the biggest challenge I had faced emotionally.

After they passed, intense sadness and anxiety filled my days. I felt physically sick thinking about how many moments I’d miss with my parents, especially that my children would never meet them.

There were only a handful of family and friends that could sit with me and just listen to my sadness. More often, when I expressed my grief, someone would immediately try to cheer me up or force a positive perspective upon me.

“You are so lucky you had such a great mom!” they would say. “How lucky you are to have had so many amazing years with your dad!” or “Your parents would want you to be happy,” were common unhelpful expressions I heard.

Other common unhelpful phrases I heard were, “Think about what you still have to be thankful for,” or any statement that started with “at least, ” like “at least she didn’t suffer any longer.”

Those phrases are unhelpful because rather than making a bereaved person feel better, they often just minimize their pain.

“When you say to somebody, ‘at least you got to say goodbye to that person,’ it makes that person that’s grieving feel like ‘I guess I shouldn’t be this sad because at least I got to do those things,'” said Sarah Kroenke, a licensed social worker and co-founder of the Grief Club of Minnesota.

It’s normal to miss someone that you loved, or someone that you had a complicated relationship with, and lost. And yet, most people encouraged me not to feel.

Because of the messages I received, I didn’t understand that grieving is a natural and normal process. I felt ashamed and alone and I often judged myself for not being able to “move on faster.”

“[Grief] doesn’t just go away. It is as unique as your fingerprint. Grief changes over time. There are no rules, there are no expectations. There is no right or wrong way,” said Kroenke.

I believe that many of the people that didn’t support me the way that I needed wanted to help, but didn’t know how.

A bouquet of roses
A bouquet of roses rests at the base of a headstone.

“My experience has been that fear gets in the way of love. It’s fear of making people sad, fear of talking about loss with people and not knowing what to say. It’s fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. And it’s also fear of mortality, it’s fear of our own people we deeply love dying,” said Joanne Cacciatore, professor at Arizona State University and founder of the MISS Foundation, an organization that provides support to families struggling with traumatic grief.

Despite this fear, we must begin to recognize the grief of bereaved individuals. Unacknowledged grief can “have significant impact not only on our immediate mental wellness but on our long-term mental wellness,” Kroenke said.

Research suggests that strong social support may improve a bereaved person’s capacity to cope. But, unfortunately, my experience is not an anomaly.

According to a recent study co-authored by Cacciatore, almost 40 percent of the bereaved participants stated that they received poor or very poor social support in traumatic relief and over half indicated the desire for more emotional support. Participants discussed the importance of others listening and accepting their emotional state without trying to “fix their grief.”

It’s a “real problem when grieving people feel lonely. And they feel lonely because they feel they have nowhere where they can share their grief or their pain. They have no one who will pour over photographs and videos of their loved ones who died. People don’t want to say their name and everyone just tries to pretend it didn’t happen,” said Cacciatore.

People with good social support, of course, still grieve. But it can be easier to move through the painful feelings of grief when you have people in your life who are willing to just be there for you while you process those difficult emotions.

The intensity of my grief didn’t begin to subside until I allowed myself to feel what I was feeling and until I found people who were able to support me through my grief.

There are countless Americans grieving today. Over 600,000 Americans have died due to COVID-19. For every person who has died during this pandemic, there are nine bereaved people on average mourning.

“It takes real courage to sit with someone and just be with them in their pain, knowing that there are no words that can take away their pain,” said Kroenke.

For the sake of the mental health of bereaved persons, I hope we can all be more courageous.

Complete Article HERE!

Hamlet: a play that speaks to pandemics past and present


I went to the theatre for the first time in 15 months to see the Theatre Royal Windsor’s new production of Hamlet. Starring Ian McKellen and directed by Sean Mathias, it really resonates in a time of ongoing pandemic. Mckellen’s very contemporary, teenage Hamlet slouches around in a hoodie and trackie bottoms, grieving, isolated and angry.

The setting, like the original, is the city of Elsinore, Denmark. In this version, COVID funerals are disrupted and truncated. Hamlet, a latterday prince, is a bisexual university student stuck at home with mum and step-dad when he wants to be back at uni in Wittenberg, hanging out with his friends and lovers.

Mental health issues afflict those in mourning, especially royalty. Hamlet muses “to be or not to be” as his lover, Horatio, gives the prince that most precious of things in lockdown, a haircut. Characters are overwhelmed by feelings of loss. Suicidal thoughts lurk. Denmark feels, and looks, like a prison. The government is morally corrupt.

Much of the play, this modern interpretation and Shakespeare’s original, speak to the circumstances and current climate in which we live. There is much in it to relate to and also learn from as our world widens and we learn to “live with the virus”.

Pandemics past

The spectre of plague and pandemic hung over much of Shakespeare’s life. He was born in April 1564, a few months before an outbreak of bubonic plague killed a quarter of the people in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. Such pandemics would recur during his time in London in 1592, 1603, 1606 and then 1609.

When Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, usually dated around 1599-1601, feelings of grief, mourning and bereavement were probably at the forefront of his mind. His parents were very elderly by contemporary standards. Shakespeare’s father, John, died in September 1601 around 70 years of age. Five years earlier, in August 1596, Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, had died aged 11, possibly of plague.

It is an uncanny coincidence that the name Hamlet is so close in sound to the name of Shakespeare’s son. The play is obsessed with fathers and sons, and how to navigate mourning a father’s death. It is full of speeches about grief and attempts to move on after bereavement. Hamlet is not alone in this as Ophelia and Laertes also suffer from unresolved grief in the play.


What galvanises Hamlet out of his emotional lockdown is theatre. When he hears travelling players are in town he leaps into action. Like so many in the audience he has really missed the theatre.

Despite the modern dress, Sean Mathias’ production eclectically evokes the theatre practices of the troupe in Hamlet. Most obviously, casting ignores age, ethnicity and gender, something which evokes the fact that Shakespeare’s stage had young men playing women. So while Jonathan Hyde is realistically cast as a plausible, efficient Claudius, the teenage Hamlet is played by an 82-year-old, while Francesca Annis who plays his elderly ghost.

Pandemic theatre

Lee Newby’s set design also encourages audiences to think of early modern playing conditions, transforming the Theatre Royal stage into a black metal, faux Globe theatre with two banks of seats on either side of the stage and a gallery at the back.

As a result, the onstage audience are clearly on display, sharing light with the performers. The mandatory face masks offer a constant reminder of COVID, while blanking out the audience’s reactions, but they also offer a reminder that Shakespeare’s playhouse had to navigate its own pandemic and often had to negotiate sudden lockdowns.

When the weekly plague death count reached 30 in Shakespeare’s time, the playhouses closed. Plague transmission was not properly understood, but it was clear that people congregating created a super-spreader event of sorts.

Shakespeare, a player, playwright and, most importantly of all, a shareholder in the Globe, seems to have seized the moment and written prolifically during plague lockdowns. In 1592 he was writing narrative poetry – Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece – as plague raged.

The years 1603 to 1604, 1606, and 1608 to 1609 were also bad for plague, and seem to have given Shakespeare space to write. For example King Lear was performed at Whitehall Palace on Boxing Day 1606 at the end of a year of plague. From 1597 on, Shakespeare could also escape to his sprawling Warwickshire country mansion, New Place, one of the largest houses for miles, with at least 20 rooms.

Illustration of the original Globe Theatre.
Globe Theatre, detail from Hollar’s View of London, 1647.

By contrast, many players were desperate for any income and facing destitution. So, sometimes playhouses would reopen before the mortality rate fell to the level considered “safe”. The thought of what a “freedom day” was like in the early modern playhouse, with those standing (known as groundlings) pressed closely together in the yard, is perhaps even more daunting than watching people flood back now restrictions are lifted.

Now that so many restrictions have been lifted now in the UK since July 19, I am feeling very ambivalent about the shared experience of live theatre. The Theatre Royal created what feels like a very safe space and, personally, I could get used to having such a generous amount of leg room in front of me. In a COVID-secure theatre, there’s no need to get intimate with complete strangers while trying to squeeze through to your seat.

But after “Freedom Day”, the theatre is only insisting that masks remain mandatory for the audience onstage who are in such close proximity to the actors. The theatre will only “strongly encourage” the rest of the audience to mask up.

During the first decade of the 1600s, pandemic ravaged the country’s population and theatres were closed as often as they were open. This might be the case now too. Already productions have had to close to isolate, including London’s Shakespeare’s Globe, after positive cases among cast and crew. Maybe restrictions indoors could stave off more productions having to close. It took 30 deaths to close the playhouses in the 1600s, but now all it takes to close a theatre is one case of COVID.

Complete Article HERE!

‘Your mammy was a flower’

— A young boy’s bereavement

“It was nice to think that Mammy was so well-liked by God, since she was a massive fan’: Séamas O’Reilly.

One of 11 children, Séamas O’Reilly was just five years old when his mother died. In an extract from his touching new memoir, he recalls with childlike clarity the awful day of her wake


One thing they don’t tell you about mammies is that when they die you get new trousers. On my first full day as a half-orphan, I remember fiddling with unfamiliar cords as Margaret held my cheek and told me Mammy was a flower. She and her husband, Phillie, were close friends of my parents and their presence is one of the few memories that survive from that period, most specifically the conversation Margaret had with me there and then. “Sometimes,” croaked Margaret in a voice bent ragged from two days’ crying, “when God sees a particularly pretty flower, He’ll take it up from Earth, and put it in his own garden.”

It was nice to think that Mammy was so well-liked by God, since she was a massive fan. She went to all his gigs – mass, prayer groups, marriage guidance meetings. She had all the action figures – small Infant of Prague statuettes, much larger Infant of Prague statuettes, little blue plastic flasks of holy water in the shape of God’s own mammy herself. So, in one sense, Margaret’s version of events was kind of comforting. It placed my mother’s death in that category of stories where people met their heroes.

As Margaret reassured me that God was an avaricious gardener intent on murdering my loved ones any time he pleased, I concentrated once more on my new corduroy slacks, summoned from the ether as if issued by whichever government department administers to the needs of all the brave little boys with dead, flowery mams – an Infant Grief Action-Pack stuffed with trousers, sensible underpants, cod liver oil tablets and a solar-powered calculator.

The cords were inordinately delightful to fiddle with, most especially when I flicked my finger up and down their pleasing grooves, stopping only each time a super-heated nail forced a change of hands. I think it’s fair to say I had no idea what was going on, save that this was all very sad and, worse, making Margaret sad. In that way of five-year-olds, I feared sadness in adults above all things, so I leaned my head upon Margaret’s shoulder to reassure her that her words had scrubbed things clean. In truth, I found the flower story unsettling. I couldn’t help picturing Mammy awakening to a frenzy of mechanical beeping as the roof caved in and God’s two great probing fingers smashed through the roof to relocate her to that odd garden he kept in heaven, presumably so he’d have something to do on Sundays.

In fact, my mother died from the breast cancer that had spun a cruel, mocking thread through her life for four years. The hospital rang my father at 3am on Thursday 17 October 1991. Their exact words went unrecorded, but the general gist was that he’d want to get there quick. I can’t imagine the horror of that morning, my father racing dawn, chain-smoking as he managed the 90-minute drive from Derry to Belfast in less than an hour. When he arrived, she had already passed. Sheila O’Reilly was dead and my father drove back to Derry as the sole parent of 11 children.

Contrary to the expectations of non-Irish people, it was highly unusual to have a family so large. My parents were formidably – perhaps recklessly – Catholic, but even among the ranks of the devout, to be one of 11 was singularly, fizzily demented. At best, you were the child of sex maniacs, at worst the creepy scions of some bearded recluse amassing weapons in the hills.

“Sometimes when God sees a particularly pretty flower, He’ll take it up from Earth, and put it in his own garden.” Séamas O’Reilly.
“Sometimes when God sees a particularly pretty flower, He’ll take it up from Earth, and put it in his own garden.” Séamas O’Reilly.

In some school years, it was easier to isolate the age groups in whih we did not have a representative. Even within our own home, it was necessary to erect internal subdivisions that simplified things. This we did by separating into three distinct castes, which ran in age order thus: the “Big Ones” (Sinead, Dara and Shane), the “Middle Ones” (Maeve, Orla, Mairead and Dearbhaile) and the “Wee Ones”, (Caoimhe, me, Fionnuala and Conall). When my mother died, the youngest was two. I was three weeks shy of my sixth birthday although the celebration of that was, I have been led to believe, a decidedly subdued affair.

It’s an infuriating quirk of the brain that I remember my first taste of a banana sandwich, but not the moment I was told Mammy had died. The closest I can manage must be some moments – perhaps hours – later: a clear image of walking through pyjama-clad siblings who were crying in all directions.

We’d been to see Mammy the preceding weekend. I once more find I only have very faint memories of that final visit. I can see her in bed, tired and pale, laughing through the web of tubes taped to her face like a child’s art project, but it’s impossible to know if this was on that occasion or some earlier trip. Those tubes were a common point of reference for us in the years after her death, my sister Maeve becoming convinced they’d strangled her.

Apart from that I can remember very little of that week, save that morning with Margaret and a smattering of sensations from the subsequent wake. My father had called Phillie and Margaret with the news, so they could look in on us until he returned. It also fell to them to intercept Anne, our housekeeper, a saintly woman who tended to the house and its numerous infant contents, most especially since Mammy had fallen ill. Anne was as steady as rain and implacable as taxes; the kind of strong, rooted Donegal woman you could imagine blithely tutting if her hair caught fire, but we watched as the news made even her steadfast frame crumple backward.

Family tree: the author and his 10 siblings in 1990. Séamas is looking over Conall’s shoulder.
Family tree: the author and his 10 siblings in 1990. Séamas is looking over Conall’s shoulder.

This was, of course, a mere precursor to the sight of my father returning to sobs and screams, holding us all as we heaved, and crying loudly himself. The sight of my father crying was so dizzyingly perverse that I couldn’t have been more shocked and appalled if bats had flown out of his mouth. Daddy’s stoicism was a solid fixture in my life. This was the man who had forged time and space with his own rough hands, unafraid of heights or the dark or spiders or anything, save for being caught without some WD-40. In many ways, my father’s grief in that moment hit me harder than anything else. It would be from the wreckage of that moment that he would reassemble the universe for us.

Mammy’s body returned that afternoon and was to be waked in our home, a great big bungalow on the border of Derry and Donegal situated far out from the city so that we rarely had many visitors. Now, there were people everywhere, the life squashed out of them, all serious and nervy as they carried dishes about the place and sheepishly searched, cupboard by cupboard, for whisks or dish cloths. Over these two days we would host a throng of well-wishers who’d come to pay their respects, see how we were doing, and inevitably bring us food, plates or cutlery.

In the time-honoured tradition of all Irish crises, sandwiches were liberally distributed. Egg and onion, of course, but also ham, and not merely the thin, wet slices you got for school lunches, but the thick, rough-cut chunks of ham that still had the fat on – the type used exclusively by millionaires, Vikings and, it was taken for granted, Protestants. To add to the sense of occasion, 15-year-old Dara had been dispatched to pick up 200 Regal King Size cigarettes. The 160 that made it back from the shop were distributed on oblong trays of polished silver. Individual cigarettes were also offered freely to guests by hand, as if we were not a gathering of grief-stricken Northern Irish Catholics at all, but a cabal of New York sophisticates toasting a dazzling new biography of Lyndon B Johnson.

Everywhere stood puffy-eyed people with features so red and blotchy it was as if bandages had just been ripped off their faces. Most guests, already sombre and teary when they arrived, were stunned into traumatic shock once they greeted the body. Gripping the coffin’s edge, they stared at my mother, who lay stately, pale and dead at 43. Some regarded her casket as if it were a grisly wound they’d discovered on their own body, registering the sight with a loud gasping horror that made all around them redouble their own racking sobs. Some collapsed in the manner of someone cruelly betrayed, as if they’d arrived at the whole maudlin affair on the understanding they were being driven to a Zumba class.

In any case, a sniffled consensus prevailed that my mother looked “just like herself”. This sentiment was always spoken with an air of relief that suggested Irish morticians were sometimes in the habit of altering the appearance of the dead for a laugh, but on this occasion had read the generally melancholy feeling in the room and realised it would be best to make up her face to look as much as possible as she had in life.

Teatime and sympathy: Séamas sits with his sister Orla for lemonade and biscuits in 1989.
Teatime and sympathy: Séamas sits with his sister Orla for lemonade and biscuits in 1989. Photograph:

My memories of the day itself are scattered, but I do remember a system had been put in place to try to marshal the movements of us Wee Ones, who were too young to understand what was going on. Of course, my ebullient run-around ways couldn’t be suppressed forever and, before long, I was wandering free. I was simply too young to grasp that the only thing sadder than a five-year-old crying because his mammy has died is a five-year-old wandering around with a smile on his face because he hasn’t yet understood what that means.

We laugh about it now, but it really is hard for me to imagine the effect I must have had skipping through the throng, appalling each person by thrusting my beaming, 3ft frame in front of them like a chipper little maître d’, with the cheerful inquiry: “Did ye hear Mammy died?”

The solemnity, not to mention the permanence, of my mother’s death was lost on me then, and it would take a while to sell it in a way I really took to heart. Months later, in much the same manner of a man who remembers a packet of Rolos in his coat pocket, I’d straighten my back with delight and perkily ask the nearest larger person when Mammy was coming back, on account of how she’d been dead for ages and was, surely by now, overdue a return.

Mammy was laid to rest in Derry’s Brandywell cemetery, looking down over Derry City’s stadium. Some years later, a fibreglass statue of a paramilitary volunteer was erected a few graves in front of hers, as a fascinating departure from the ambience of angels and urns graveyards typically aim for. Mounted by the INLA – very much the Andrew Ridgeley of Irish republicanism – it was a striking addition. To this day, any time I visit my mother’s grave, it hovers on the edge of my vision like a giant GI Joe, only one who’s about to give a prepared warning to the world’s media. If you were to construct a heavy-handed visual metaphor for how large a shadow the Troubles cast over everything in Northern Ireland during my childhood, it wouldn’t be a bad shout.

In the months that followed, the shock would subside and the slow, rumbling grief would come in successive, parallel waves. The impacts would come to each of us individually and at different speeds and then be magnified by all of the subsequent considerations of everyone else’s grief, cross-bred and multiplied by the 12 of us trying to make sense of it.

My mother wouldn’t be there any more to kiss grazed knees or carry me to bed when I pretended to have fallen asleep in the car or dry my hair with the static force of a hydroelectric dam. She would never cock an eyebrow at the socialist-tinged T-shirts or abstruse electronica of my teens. She would never smile politely at girlfriends she found overfamiliar, or text me to say she loved them the second I got home. Mammy would never send a text message full stop. She would never read an email or live to see the words “website” or “car boot sale” enter a dictionary. Mammy didn’t even live to see Bryan Adams’s (Everything I Do) I Do It for You get knocked off UK No 1, its perch for four months at the end of her life.

It seems blasphemous that my mother’s death even existed in the same reality as those moments that subsequently came to define my youth: taking the long way home so I could listen to Kid A twice, or poring over the lurid covers of horror paperbacks in a newly discovered corner of Foyle Street library. How is my mother’s passing even part of the same universe that gave me the simple pleasures of ice-cream after swimming lessons in William Street baths, or scenting the sun cream on girls’ skin as they daubed polish on their outstretched, nonchalant nails?

My life wasn’t over from that point on. I’d laugh and cry and scream about borrowed jumpers, school fights, bomb scares, playing Zelda, teenage bands, primary school crushes and yet more ice-cream after yet more swimming lessons. I’d just be doing it without her. To some extent, I’d be doing it without a memory of her. The most dramatic moment of my life wasn’t scored by wailing sirens, weeping angels or sad little ukuleles, nimbly plucked on lonely hillsides. Mammy’s death was mostly signalled by tea, sandwiches and an odd little boy in corduroy trousers, announcing it with a smile across his face.

Complete Article HERE!

Why Grief Motivates You To Become Better

By Gloria Horsley

Grief can have many devastating effects on individuals, loved ones and friends. Knowing this, it’s difficult to see how grief could possibly have a positive outcome. However, if we dig a little deeper, we can understand how grief can actually motivate us to become better versions of ourselves and better leaders. When we think about how grief has affected us, most of us recall the feelings of loneliness, depression and even anger at the situation — whatever it may be. While it is hard to understand why these things happen to cause this grief, there is still hope.

Surprisingly, through all of the feelings we experience during the grieving process, we can actually find the motivation to become better from three primary reasons: gratefulness, inspiration and love. Here’s how you can transform your grief into self-motivation in three ways:

Lean On Gratefulness

Though there are events that happen in our lives that cause us grief, we still need to find reasons to be grateful. You may have heard someone once say, “I’m thankful to be alive right now.” You may have even said or thought it as well. Despite these events that have caused grief, think about how you are thankful to still be here today. By remembering to be grateful that you are here, you can actually choose to live for an individual you’ve lost or even for a cause that aims to bring about change. With the life you still have left to live, you can use it for the better, especially from your position as a nonprofit leader.

You can also ask yourself: What can I do now that I’m here and have another day to experience this thing called life? Perhaps starting new habits, such as taking a morning walk to be grateful for a new day, making a daily phone call or text to that friend or loved one you’ve been meaning to contact or even just cooking a meal for yourself more often. There are so many small habits you incorporate into your day that can help motivate you to move forward.

Get Inspired 

We all know how difficult it is to find inspiration after a loss or when we are grieving, whatever the situation may be. It’s important to remember that everything is out of our control. We cannot blame ourselves for bad things happening to those around us who we love. Knowing that, think about how you can help others cope with their grief. Especially as leaders in the nonprofit sector, we have the opportunity to evoke positive change.

Additionally, how can you turn your grief into inspiration and help raise awareness for your causes (whether personal or for your organization)? For example, if you have lost someone you know and love to a terminal illness that people may not know about, perhaps consider sharing information about it to educate others. Or perhaps there are no funds currently going toward that illness, or toward a specific project or community initiative that’s close to you or your organization, depending on the situation. Consider raising awareness and money for this cause and donating it to research centers or collaborative partners who are doing the on-the-ground work. Or consider starting a new branch of your nonprofit to address it. It can be a great way to inspire others to give and learn more about something that is important to you. 

Prioritize Love

Love is a motivator for all things, even during grief. By taking a loving approach toward others experiencing grief, you can truly help them. We can use love as a motivator to do great things and make the world a better place. Take a loving approach with whatever you do in life, and teach others what you can in a gentle and kind manner. Grief comes in many forms, and it’s important to be kind to people because we do not know what others may be going through. Prioritizing love is an especially important practice as a leader, whether your organization is large with hundreds of employees or a local NPO with a modest team.

In addition to us helping them during their trials, people can also teach us so much about love and kindness. Whether it’s in your nonprofit organization, or in your personal life, think about what others have taught you about love and kindness. These lessons can motivate you to be better by loving others, but can also teach you the importance of loving yourself.

Concluding Thoughts

No matter what you may be going through or where you are in the grieving process, be sure to remember that something good can come from any situation. You just have to think about what lessons you can learn from trials in life. It may not happen right away, but over time, you can learn to motivate yourself by remembering the reasons grief motivates you to become better. It definitely took me some time to find my motivation again, and when I did, it was for the three reasons I listed above.

Everyone has different reasons for why they are motivated. What are some of your motivators in life, even when you are grieving?

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