Monday, June 17, 2024

Pet Loss: Grateful for Comfort and Kinship in Grief

There are] two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.  ~ Edwin Arlington Robinson

A reader writes: Dear Marty, I want to express my gratitude to you personally for the comfort and strength you have given me and others like myself who have lost special companion animals. My cat of eleven and a half years died of kidney disease. We had him euthanized when the disease had progressed to the point where, although he still had his dignity and awareness, he was so painfully thin and weak that we knew he was very tired; he had "fought the good fight," and it was time to let him go. 

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, June 2 - June 15, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week: 

The hardest part of growing up? For me, it has to be watching my parents grow older. There’s this sudden realization that all things are finite and there’s an end to everything. Every time I think about this, the reality hits even harder. Coping With Grief: The Sight Of Parents Growing Old « Her Campus

Monday, June 10, 2024

In Grief: Widowed Mom's Drinking Alienates Family

Compassion for our parents is the true sign of maturity. ~ Anaïs Nin

A reader writes: My father passed away last July. My mother and he had a terrible marriage and only stayed together for the "kids," then couldn't afford to live apart. He passed away after a brief illness, but had made my mother's life very difficult. For the last 20 years, they just cohabited together with seperate lives - different bedrooms and even different tv rooms.

I did not have a good relationship with him (nor did my brother) - he was mean, selfish and just not a very nice person to us or anyone else. Nonetheless, I did and still do grieve for him. I also grieved for the father I never had, but I did forgive him before he passed away and was present when he died.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Mother Loss: College Student Feels Like Quitting

Some people succeed because they are destined but most because they are determined. 
 ~ Unknown

A reader writes: In my 20 years of living there was not a single day that I had spent without my mom. She was my world and I was hers. She was more like a best friend to me. She played video games with me, we went to trips together, she cooked food for me. It was like she was for me and I was for her. And then, within a matter of 3 days, I lost her. She was just 42.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, May 26 - June 1, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week: 

The disorienting nature of grief can create a sense of duality in our reality. Adapting to a new life without our loved one isn't easy, but it is possible. Many grievers report feeling as though they are in a parallel life with their loved one just out of reach. Why Your Old Life Can Feel Just Out of Reach « Psychology Today

Monday, May 27, 2024

Using Music to Move Through Grief

When you're happy, you enjoy the music. But, when you're sad, you understand the lyrics.  ~ Frank Ocean

People have known for centuries that music touches the human soul. We know intuitively that music affects us in profound and healing ways, both emotionally and physically, and present-day research demonstrates this to be true. In health care settings such as hospitals, clinics and hospices, music therapy is found to be remarkably effective in helping to calm patients, reduce stress, ease muscle tension, promote movement and manage pain.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, May 13 - May 25, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week: 

Patrick passed away less than two weeks before his 21st birthday. He even had his party organised. Instead, the family had to say their final goodbyes before Patrick could experience this coming-of-age milestone. A father's grief: 'There's always an empty seat at the table' « The Impartial Reporter

Monday, May 20, 2024

Coping with Bad Dreams and Nightmares in Grief

There are many who don't wish to sleep for fear of nightmares. Sadly, there are many who don't wish to wake for the same fear.  ~ Richelle Goodrich

A reader writes:  It's now been six months since my mother died. In many ways it seems like worlds and eons since then, but in some ways not at all. I really miss her and talking to her every few days, as was our old routine.  The problem I’m having is that I dream about her almost every night.  It's never the same scenario, except that she's always sick, like she was toward the end. Sometimes I wake up crying. This has been going on for pretty much the entire time since she died. Is this normal???  I think of her from time to time during the day, but not obsessively so. I'm able to function pretty well. So I'm wondering if this is normal and how much other people have a similar experience.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Pet Loss: When Prolonged Grief Prevents Bonding With Another Dog

The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be.   ~ Konrad Lorenz

A reader writes: I know this is seemingly weird but possibly you can help. I am a 37 year old male and I still cry at night sometimes. Here’s why. Three years ago my beloved Copper had to be put down due to cancer. I got him as a pup 13 years prior and for the first 3 years of his life it was just him and I. (We lived on a farm.) I got Copper to try and get through a very difficult time in my life and looking back if it was not for him I probably wouldn't be sending you this message.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, April 28 - May 11, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week: 

Grief is a journey. You can move through grief without letting go of the memory of your loved one. I will focus on the “morning” phase, or the sense of hope and faith that keeps us going. Learning From Loss « Psychology Today

Many experts in the field of grief psychology no longer speak of "stages" of grief that you passively go through, but rather of active "tasks" of healthy grieving, particularly in cases of traumatic losses such as the death of a child or death due to an accident, natural disaster, homicide or suicide. Not 'stages' of grief, but 'tasks': Escaping the spiral of heartache « Yahoo! Life

Monday, May 6, 2024

In Grief: Being Angry with God

What fire does not destroy, it hardens.   ~ Oscar Wilde

A reader writes: Our daughter was only 41 years old when she died of heart failure a year ago, leaving her three sons behind. Just a little over one week ago, their home caught fire and burned to the ground, taking her dog with the fire. As we stood looking at the burned out shell of our daughter’s house, we were in shock.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Using Alcohol to Cope with Grief

Frequency of drinking is less important than the role that alcohol plays in the life of the grief victim.  ~ Margaret Gerner

A reader writes: It's been terrible and bumpy ride so far. Yesterday I wasn't too bad - at least not after I saw my grief counselor. This morning I drove our eldest son and his wife to the airport so they could return to their studies in the US. I've had all three kids plus one daughter-in-law with me this last month. We were all at my husband's bedside when he died. I made the trip fine, was able to concentrate on the road, say goodbye without too many tears and drove home again. Altogether a four hour trip. I got home from the airport, and collapsed into tears. It was early, so the two sons left at home - at least for now - were still asleep. I took a sedative, then a glass of wine, then one more glass of wine. Nothing helped.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, April 21 - April 27, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week: 

According to research from national bereavement charity Sue Ryder, gardening and nature can have a profound impact on the grieving process and 40% of the 1,000 respondents surveyed said that gardening had actually ‘saved’ them from their grief. Gardening Is 'Saving' People From Grief By Providing A Safe Space For Reflection « HuffPost

Monday, April 22, 2024

Acceptance, Closure, and "Moving On" in Grief

Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it. ~ Michael J. Fox

A reader writes: This just isn’t something I can live with. I want to see my dad more than anything in the world. I can’t even go near the words “closure” or “accept.” My friend, who never lost anyone, even a pet, in her life, told me in a matter-of-fact, cheery voice, “You gotta get over it, right? Pick yourself up. Go out and live life. Your dad would have wanted you to be out there, I bet.” I almost hung up on her. I know she meant well, but I was so upset by that.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, April 14 - April 20, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

A pediatric clinician shares the rewards and challenges of working with terminally ill children and their families. Terminally Ill Pediatric Patients and the Grieving Therapist «

Monday, April 15, 2024

Voices of Experience: Get Over It (maybe not all of it)

Losing a mate to death is devastating but it's not a personal attack like divorce. When somebody you love stops loving you and walks away, it's an insult beyond comparison.  ~ Sue Merrell

Brenda Johnson thought her life was predictable until a sunny Saturday when her husband announced he wasn't happy. Stunned by the message, she picked her heart up off the floor and biked to the farmers market. When she began to live alone, her life was normal as she moved into each day with music from the last, but sadness lingered too long after a reasonable divorce with no hate, theft, or slander. Weary of tears, her mantra became, "Get over it!" Her memoir chronicles her family’s early years and the years after her husband left, when it took too long to get over the tears. The stories of before and after divorce, sprinkled with humor and sorrow, are familiar to anyone who has experienced loss.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, April 7 - April 13, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

A recent study described subjective paranormal experiences with dead pets among 544 bereaved dog owners. These ghostly encounters took many forms and were almost always viewed as positive experiences. These paranormal experiences may help pet lovers deal with disenfranchised grief. Have You Ever Encountered the Ghost of a Deceased Pet? « Psychology Today

Monday, April 8, 2024

In Grief: Comparing Pet Loss to Loss of a Person

I question whether experiences of such severe loss can be quantified and compared.  Loss is loss, whatever the circumstances.  All losses are bad, only bad in different ways.  No two losses are ever the same.  Each loss stands on its own and inflicts a unique kind of pain.  What makes each loss so catastrophic is its devastating, cumulative, and irreversible nature . . . So whose loss is worse, hers or mine?  It is impossible to give an answer.  Both are bad, but bad in different ways.  ~ Jerry Sittser in A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, March 31 - April 6, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

A new sense of urgency has emerged for healthcare organizations to develop "sustainable and accessible bereavement care" and to cultivate a "bereavement-conscious" workforce to position bereavement as an "inherent element of the duty of care," authors of a recent opinion piece asserted. Incorporating Bereavement Into the Continuum of Care « MedPage Today

Monday, April 1, 2024

Meditation and Mindfulness in Grief

by Mary Friedel-Hunt, MA, LCSW

Acceptance in the mindful context means that even when the unthinkable happens, we honor our self and our experience with dignity and kindness. Rather than turn our back on our own suffering, we treat ourselves as we would a beloved friend.  ~ Heather Stang

Research studies confirm that the practice of meditation and mindfulness changes our brains and our lives; reduces pain, anxiety, confusion and stress; boosts the immune system; and increases concentration, focus and compassion, among its many other benefits. In addition, the practice of meditation and mindfulness can assist us in healing our grief, because it helps us live in the present moment...where our grief resides.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, March 24 - March 30, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Meghan Riordan Jarvis, a trauma-informed grief expert who specializes in how grief affects the body, told me that because the death of a loved one is a completely novel experience, it is "very energetically expensive." She confirmed that grief can impair our balance as well as memory and our ability to do multistep functions. Can grief make us accident-prone? « KLCC

Monday, March 25, 2024

Confronting The Lessons of Grief

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

It is difficult to imagine surviving grief much less transcending it. How do we triumph over sorrow when it seems as if our pain will never end?

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, March 17 - March 23, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

From the loss of my daughter and countless hundreds of families I’ve helped over the years, I mapped out eight guidelines for how to go on after a devastating loss called “The Eight Honorings.” As outlined in my book, How We Go On, each of these honorings speaks to the answerable and unanswerable questions that Meghan’s parents are asking. The Love That Never Dies « Psychology Today

Monday, March 18, 2024

Take Care in Seeking Comfort and Support in Grief

You need many teachers, not one teacher; you need many gurus, not one guru; you need many books not one book!  ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

A reader writes: One of my recent problems has to to do with a book I’m reading, consisting mainly of writings and 'lectures' by a man who claims to be an actual avatar, a real embodiment of God Itself, and whose claims of how things really are, and how a continuing life might be for anyone, are very, very close to what I already believed to be the most logical and sensible way things probably worked. BUT, a few of the things he says have also been not only different, but quite frightening, at least to me.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, March 10 - March 16, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

When people talk about managing grief, often this involves grieving for someone who’s already passed. However, there are times when a loved one may be approaching the end of their life, perhaps due to an illness or age. In this situation, some find that they have already begun experiencing aspects of grief. Strategies for Preparing and Coping with Imminent Loss « AfterTalk

Monday, March 11, 2024

Abortion Leads to Partner's Silent, Disenfranchised Grief

There’s no love like a lost love and no pain like a broken heart.  ~ Ben Harper

A reader writes: My girlfriend and I got pregnant about two months ago. She went and took the abortion pill yesterday. I begged her not to, to marry me and have this child. But she said no. She doesn't want to be in a relationship with me anymore. I am grieiving not only the loss of our possible child together, but the loss of our possible life together. I'm not even sure where to begin, but I still can't believe that she actually went through with it. 

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, March 3 - March 9, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Asking yourself about the grief process and overdoing this work is a great insight that is always good to examine. I hadn’t thought of the possibility of working so hard at grief that it could be a distraction from stepping into life, but it makes great sense and is a profound insight. The importance of taking time for 'recess' in the grief process « Taos News

Monday, March 4, 2024

Voices of Experience: What You Want Your Loved Ones To Know When You Die

Rusty Rosman spent years helping her parents and her in-laws as they aged. Over the years, Rusty saw many of their friends and their families conflicted over final arrangements and family confrontations. After making sure the parents updated their estate planning, Rusty encouraged them to write out their final wishes for their funerals, mourning period and then, what they wanted done with their belongings that weren’t covered in their legal documents. Rusty is one of four children. Having her parents put their wishes in writing made the heartbreaking experience of a parent’s death much easier for all four of them to navigate—because they had their parents’ wishes in writing. From that experience, Two Envelopes:What You Want Your Loved Ones To Know When You Die was born. 

Here Rusty encourages us to convey our final wishes to family and loved ones by preparing our own two envelopes:

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, February 25 - March 2, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Losing a parent is devastating. Losing both in a short time creates a unique set of emotional and practical challenges. Navigating grief can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the Social Security system. Financial planner J.C. Corrigan, CFP® shares his experience so that others might avoid similar issues. Navigating Grief and Benefits When Both Parents Die « Advisor Perspectives

Monday, February 26, 2024

In Grief: The Gift of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.  ~ Corrie Ten Boom

A reader writes: I lost my mom six weeks ago. We had a distant and strange relationship my entire life as she favored my brother and made no qualms about showing it financially and otherwise. During my childhood there was much conflict in the house and she didn't protect me from it and wasn't remorseful. Dad had 7 heart attacks during my teen years and died when I was 19 (I'm 53 now). Our home revolved around chronic illness and tension and anger. I resented mom during my 20's and 30's for not protecting me from my father and brother and also had trouble with her obvious favoritism toward my brother which she expressed financially. I moved away many years ago and tried to create a more functional environment for myself and learn about love and support in other types of circles.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, February 18 - February 24, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Whether it’s the diagnosis of an advanced cancer or a non-malignant condition such as dementia, heart failure or Parkinson’s disease, the psychological and emotional process of grief can begin many months or even years before the person dies. This experience of mourning a future loss is known as anticipatory grief. Not all mourning happens after bereavement – for some, grief can start years before the death of a loved one « The Conversation

Monday, February 19, 2024

Making Comparisons in Grief

I generally find that comparison is the fast track to unhappiness. No one ever compares themselves to someone else and comes out even. Nine times out of ten, we compare ourselves to people who are somehow better than us and end up feeling more inadequate.  ~
Jack Canfield

As news about mass shootings and natural disasters continues to flood the airwaves, our hearts go out to the victims, survivors, and others who witnessed these horrific events, as well as to the people living in those places. As a nation we express our collective condolences, offer our heartfelt prayers, and work to contribute whatever we can toward their healing.

For those of us already struggling with grief, however, such catastrophic events unfortunately can give rise to feeling guilty for feeling bad, as if we don’t have a legitimate right to mourn our own individual losses.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, February 11 - February 17, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Milestone dates can catch us off guard and bring us to our knees. Preparing ahead of time can bring sweetness and meaning to the day. Create rituals that honor your loved one's life and legacy. Grieving Through Birthdays and Death Days « Psychology Today

Monday, February 12, 2024

In Grief: When An Ex-Spouse Dies

It is harder to accept the reality of loss if one is excluded from the dying process, restricted from the funeral rituals, inhibited from acknowledging the loss, or even given delayed news of the death.  ~ Kenneth J. Doka

A reader writes: I’m not really sure how to explain how I feel after losing my ex-spouse a month ago—especially since he died the same day I was having major surgery. Consequently, I’ve had quite a few complications from my surgery since I started taking care of my two teenage boys and their grief the morning after surgery when I got the phone call about their father. The funeral (which was put on by his new young wife) was about the last four years of his life and didn’t talk about our boys or even mention those years of his life. The people who spoke at the funeral described a man that the boys and I didn’t even know. Most people (at work and friends) don’t know what to say to me because they feel that I have no emotions about this since he was my ex-husband. It’s an uncomfortable subject for my current husband as well.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, February 4 - February 10, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Advances in neuroimaging are helping people better understand psychological reactions and responses to grief. Just as someone is changed by the arrival of a loved one into their life, they are altered by their departure. Grieving isn’t the problem: It is a solution, hardwired to help individuals navigate the pain of loss. What We Get Wrong About Grieving « Psychology Today

Monday, February 5, 2024

In Grief: When A Tragic Accident Takes A Mother's Life

Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.  ~ Danielle Bernock

A reader writes: I'm 25 years old, and I lost my mother in a surprising, tragic accident about 1 week ago. I was devastated for days, but now I don't feel much of anything... I feel saddened and confused, and I don't really know what to do... nothing feels important - but it is as if I should be feeling much worse, I don't know how to put it any better than that. The funeral was yesterday, and almost 500 people showed up to say goodbye (people were standing in the hallway doors looking it was so full), which was pretty touching considering my mom hardly ever left the house (except for work and dog walking), but it was a lovely thing. 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, January 28 - February 3, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Megan Roantree lost both her dad and her best friend Shauna in her teens, now she reflects on the things it taught her about grief, and what she wishes she knew. What I Learned In Loss – & What I Wish I Knew About Grief « Stellar

A practical, technical or vocational major may have value in the job market, but it won’t provide the emotional or philosophical tools needed to cope with profound personal experiences like the death of a parent. For that, one needs a grounding in the humanities, which delve into the human experience, emotions and existential questions that arise during our most significant life events. How The Humanities Can Aid in Coping With Loss « Inside Higher Ed

Monday, January 29, 2024

In Grief: When A Friend Refuses Support

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and be understood.  ~ Seneca

A reader writes: I am hoping you can advise me what to do. I have a very dear and close friend whose brother died of suicide a month ago. This was his only sibling. He had to go identify the body and had to come home to a hysterical wife and barely functioning parents. As far as I know he has cried very little if at all. He and I haven't been able to discuss anything at all. My husband and I did everything we could to help the family with things. The problem is now though he will not call anymore and he has pulled away emotionally. He is saying things to me that I would say are hurtful. I have been trying to keep in touch with him, but now he says we are not compatible. I really want to help him through this very tough time. Do I step back and give him space or what do I do??? I am hoping you can give me some guidance. Thank you.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, January 14 - January 27, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

There is a rising tide of positivity around the new year that can feel difficult for those suffering. Ambitious goals and resolutions can exacerbate discouragement or grief. An alternative approach is to focus on ways to steady and support yourself. How to Approach 2024 if Heavy-Hearted or Grief-Stricken « Psychology Today

Monday, January 22, 2024

Grief and Sexuality

[Reviewed and updated April 9, 2024]

Intimacy doesn't mean sharing nudity, intimacy means sharing vulnerability.   ~ Abhijit Naskar

A reader writes: My mother died recently, and although she was older and it happened rather quickly, still it was the saddest thing I’ve ever experienced. Now, three months later, I’m finding it very difficult to become intimate again with my husband. Even being in close proximity to him is difficult for me. It almost scares me. Especially because I want so desperately to know that my mom is watching over me, but I don't want her to see me having sex with my husband! Can you give me some direction on this? 

Monday, January 15, 2024

When Pet Loss Affects Feelings For Those Remaining

Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learned here.  ~ Marianne Williamson

A reader writes: I had to put my 13 year-old baby Tasha to sleep three days ago. It was so hard. Even my vet and the vet tech cried. It was comforting to know that she was surrounded by love when she went. My problem now is that I have this huge emptiness in my heart and I feel like I can't love my other dogs as much as I used to.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, January 7 - January 13, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

When Naomi Judd died by suicide in 2022, after a long struggle with mental illness, her daughter Ashley found her. In this deeply moving, revealing, and insightful conversation Ashley Judd talks about the trauma she has worked hard to face, the grief she now feels, and how her mother’s spirit is still very much alive in her life. Anderson Cooper interviews Ashley Judd: Grief, Love and Naomi « All There Is With Anderson Cooper

Monday, January 8, 2024

In Grief: Surviving A Brother's Fatal Accident

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.  ~ Clara Ortega

A reader writes: I'm going through a very difficult time. My oldest brother (39) died a month ago in a car wreck. We were super close as I lived with him for 5 years and he was always  protecting me and giving me his support and guidance ( I'm 31). Even before he died he told me how much he loved me and to take care of my belly, that we will see each other in a few days -- but this never happened and I'm devastated! He was so full of life. His wife recently had a baby, they both had great jobs and just bought a new house. He had so many dreams but was robbed of all of them by a negligent driver! I'm so full of anger and hate!

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Understanding and Managing Grief, December 31 - January 6, 2024

Best selections from Grief Healing's X feed this week:

Normal grief is a process that varies from person to person. Prolonged Grief Disorder occurs when this process is derailed. Normal grieving is supported by joining specialized groups of mourners and cultural and religious customs. Prolonged Grief Disorder Therapy focuses on healing themes and achieving milestones as recovery progresses. Grief: What Is Normal and What Is Prolonged Grief Disorder « Psychology Today

Monday, January 1, 2024

In Grief: When A Counseling Relationship Is Ending

The only person you should ever fear losing in a relationship is you yourself. ~ Miya Yamanouchi

A reader writes: My situation isn't really typical of the reasons most people join your forums, but I am experiencing terrible grief and it's not something I can talk to anyone about because most people don't recognize or understand it. I feel incredibly alone.

I've seen a counselor for coming up to three years and she has helped me through some of the most difficult times of my life. I have a tough life with a long-term illness and I have a disabled child so I feel really isolated. I've been fortunate enough to see my counselor free at an agency and I feel really close to her. I'm not close to my family at all as I had a tough upbringing and I don't see my friends very often. I'm a single parent since my marriage broke down 5 years ago.

My counselor told me 4 weeks ago that she is leaving the agency due to personal circumstances.