Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday, I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Advice for Grief Recovery

My friend Fred recently wrote about what he would share with people if they were grieving. His words are filled with wisdom, truth, and compassion. I include his thoughts with a few of my own. 

Pay attention to your grief.  
Find relief in the rituals and prayers of your tradition, whatever they are.  
It is right for us to grieve because people we love have died. They died too soon, they died before we’re ready, and they died before we had learned all that we could from them.

Grief has many emotions and physical sensations as we move through the days, weeks, and months—shock, sorrow, loneliness, despair, rage, depression, aches, chills, discomforts, and so on. Do not hide from any of them.  
Death is a physical event and grief is an appropriate physical response.

Gather with family and friends and share stories about the one who died. You know much about the person’s life, but sharing with each others fills in the gaps and brings new insights and understanding. Be honest in your sharing because everyone has weaknesses and flaws. This is the time to affirm the fullness and contradictions of your loved one's life.

The biggest danger with grief is to fear or deny it, because then psychological problems begin.  
Allow yourself to weep when you feel like weeping. When you feel like crying, cry. People expect those who are grieving to be emotional in the weeks and months afterward. 
You have permission to grieve now. People aren’t so understanding if you put your grief off for five or twenty years. 

Be prepared for visitations from the departed, whether this happens in dreams, visions, or simply in the presence brought back by seeing their possessions or smelling familiar scents. This can also be a time for you to complete unfinished business. If there is something you always wanted to say to the one who died, now is a good time.

Many people have walked the path of grief before us. They bear witness to the fact that people survive grief, patch their lives back together, and find happiness again.

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