Blog

Some helpful quotes

This morning I was collecting quotes for our SOSL newsletter.

Here are two from a thoughtful collection at Cragman.com:

“Grieving is not a short-term process; it’s not even a long-term process; it’s a lifelong process. ‘Having a future’ now means that although your life will flow again, it will flow differently as a result of the loss. Your grief will become incorporated into your life history, become a part of your identity. And you will continue now, and forever, to redefine your relationship with your deceased loved one. Death doesn’t end the relationship, it simply forges a new type of relationship – one based not on physical presence but on memory, spirit, and love.”
~ Transcending Loss by Ashley Davis Bush
 
“It is still so new and all we see is the empty space, but that is not how it is in the landscape of the heart. There, there is no empty space and he still laughs and grapples with ideas and plans and nods wisely with each of us in turn. We are proud to have known him. We are proud to have called him friend.” – Brian Andreas

SOSL Winter Newsletter has two good articles on handling the holidays

I was honored to help facilitate a discussion on handling the holidays last night at meeting of the Bereavement Parents of the USA, North San Diego County Chapter. While there I mentioned the Survivors of Suicide Loss, San Diego, (SOSL) had posted the Winter newsletter on their site this week with practical information on getting through this difficult time of year.

Unfortunately I did not have copies of the newsletter with me but here is the link to the site: SOSL home page.   From there click on the ”Newsletter” tab and you will be taken to a link where you can read a pdf copy of it.

I hope to write out some of the suggestions discussed, such as pausing to take a deep breath or two when feeling pressured. Meanwhile, feel free to add your concerns or what has helped you balance your grief with the various demands of these days.

Online grief support for Teens

A friend emailed yesterday concerned about her granddaughter whose other grand mother died recently form cancer. She asked for online support for her grand teen. I googled about yesterday and sent her these:

Results from Ask Metafilter (have to weed through a bit but good leads):
http://4go1.sl.pt

Not exactly what you’re looking for but a great endeavor: A project called Developing an Online Community for Grieving Adolescents. Even has a mock website:
http://4go4.sl.pt

This center in Seattle has an online chat room and other online support:
http://www.healingcenterseattle.org/teens/

A good article reviewing several online support groups including teens:
http://4go6.sl.pt

Good article on Teen grief:
http://www.hospicenet.org/html/teenager.html

An active forum, includes a section for teens:
http://www.grieving.com/

Another forum with a teen section:
http://www.hovforum.ipbhost.com/

 

Later in correspondence discovered teen lives in Seattle, Washington so added these:

An excellent, large center in Portland:
http://www.dougy.org/

A large hospice in Seattle that provides bereavement support for teens and children, including a camp:
http://4gog.sl.pt

Link to the camp:
http://4goi.sl.pt

Parentmap site with links to Seattle area grief support:
http://www.parentmap.com/content/view/319

Another article on Teens & Grief – for parents:
http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychology-teen-grief/

 

Please comment and add any others you have found helpful. Thanks.

A Place for and about Grieving Dads

This new site has just come to my attention. It is actually a pair of sites. The blog is mostly of father’s stories submitted to the main site.  You can also read the stories on the main site.
The tag line: “A Place To Share Your Story And Help Other Bereaved Dad’s.”

From GrievingDads.com Project blog:

This project is designed to reach out to all bereaved dads and to provide a conduit to share their stories. One of my goals is to bring awareness to the impacts that child loss has on fathers and to let society know that it’s okay for a father to grieve the loss of a child. A father shouldn’t have to hide his pain or feel ashamed to show his emotions.

Blog: GrievingDads.com Project

Main site: GrievingDads.com

New Support Group for Bereaved Bereaved Parents in Carlsbad


    What
    : North County Support Group for Bereaved Parents
    When: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
    Where: 3150 El Camino Real, Suite C, Carlsbad, Ca 92008
    Cost: Free of Charge
    More info: ncsg4parents@gmail.com & see flyer

From the Flyer:

Losing a child is unlike any other loss a parent will ever experience. Bereaved parents often feel over-whelmed and alone. I want you to know that you are not alone. This support group brings together bereaved parents to help each other cope with the devastating feelings that we bereaved parents experience.

Hello, my name is Karin Trujillo and I lost my daughter six years ago. With the help and support of other bereaved parents I learned I was not alone, and that many of the feelings I was experiencing were very normal. I am starting this group because the group I used to attend no longer exists, and I want to make sure that other bereaved parents have a support system they can count on.

If you need support and would like to meet other parents dealing with the loss of a child, then please join our group.

What to read?

I get asked form time to time for suggestions. My usual answer goes something like this reply to a recent email from a colleague for a friend in England who is facing several losses,

Yikes. Yes, anything by Therese A. Rando. Her book on Anticipatory Grief is excellent. Here’s link to her on Amazon: http://goo.gl/tocq

For the primary grievers I usually suggest browsing through a bookstore or library to see what speaks to you. We are each in such unique – for us and others at these times that it’s hard to second guess.

It would be helpful to have a collection of books that folk have found helpful. Please leave a comment on what you have found helpful. A paragraph or two about it or them would be a bonus. I can also link them up to reviews on Amazon.

Tools for working with Stress, Guilt, Waves and Triggers

This entry grows out of a recent session where a father and mother  asked about issues that they found extremely troublesome. The following is an outline of our discussion.

I suggested they think of boxes representing things that stress us stacked up on each other. Imagine we can handle 12 of these boxes before we crumble, or flip out. Imagine a horizontal bar that crosses at the 12th box that marks this level of tolerance.

There are two strategies for for dealing with this mounting stress: Find ways to raise the bar so more boxes can be stacked, or find ways to remove some of the boxes.

1. Work to raise bar on how much stress we can endure. Establish a daily practice of one or more of the following: Contemplative prayer, meditation, yoga, tai-chi or any other discipline that allows slow purposeful movement or non-action. Find a place and time where you’ll be undisturbed. Consider making this a shrine to your god or to your loved one.

2.Remove some of the boxes. Look at current behaviors, tasks, commitments that add stress. Examples might include: Not sleeping well or enough, eating unhealthy foods, staying needlessly busy, being over committed, being argumentative, or any things that leads to friction with family or close friends. Decide which you can remove or manage differently. This is also a bit like avoiding known triggers.

“The Why Room”: Be aware of when you are heading there. Decide if you want to be there. Consider setting an appointment for visiting that room at a later date. Keep visits short. Have an exit strategy before going in. Note where the exit is and how to get out.

Reactivity to incidents (waves, triggers):
1. Know that they can be reduced by regular practice of quiet prayer, meditation, etc.
2. Work with specific incidents by practicing a breathing technique. Below you will find one I taught to children, the 5-5-5 technique:

  • Breathe in to a count of 5; hold it for a count of 5;
  • Breathe out for a count of 5;
  • Repeat as necessary, say for 5 times.
  • Evaluate whether to repeat another set.

While breathing techniques such as the one above may not always be needed, if practiced regularly they will be available when the next incident occurs.

Guilt:

  1. Contemplate possible underlying reasons for clinging to it – or reasons why you might be  avoiding work in that area.
  2. Establish interviews with your deceased loved one. Talk or write to her; listen for her response.
  3. Use this to clarify whether specific occasion of guilt is legitimate or not.
  4. If legit, ask her for forgiveness; listen to her response.
  5. If not legit, decide what to do with it. If you won’t let it go, ask why. Ask your loved one why.
  6. You can also assign yourself a task (“community service”) to pay off the guilt. Make it time limited. For example, “3 months of working in the soup kitchen on Saturdays.”

In sum, as if homework:

  • Label stress boxes.  Remove those that can be removed; accept others.
  • Establish a time and place to practice each day for quiet prayer, meditation, yoga, TaiChi, or other similar practices. Consider finding a guide, mentor or teacher for this
  • Practice 5-5-5 or some variation.
  • Try Journaling or other means to build on a new relationship with your loved one so that various forms of guilt can be examined and released, questions asked and answers obtained.

a. List occasions of guilt
b. Review each with him: if legit, ask his forgiveness.
c. In any case listen to his response. Take dictation if journaling.

Know that often we hold on to pain or guilt fearing that it is our last, strongest connection to our loved one. The exercise of journaling or speaking with him or her will supplant this need.
When journaling or speaking/thinking to him, allow him to respond. Write out responses.

Feel free to ask questions about or discuss any of this.