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.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Advice For Grief Recovery

Dumbledore to Harry Potter, when he clung to thoughts of his dead parents,
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

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

Pay attention to your grief.  
It is right for us to grieve because people we love have died. They died too soon, and they died before we were ready. They died before we had learned all we could from them. They were an important part of our lives, and their absence leaves a hole.

Grief will last for longer than you expect.

Grief will bring many emotions and physical sensations as we move through the days, weeks and months—shock, sorrow, loneliness, despair, rage, depression, aches, chills, discomforts and more. Do not hide from any of them. And if you have any unresolved grief from the past, that will probably come back.
Death is a physical event and grief is the 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 you do not know everything. Sharing with others fills in the gaps and brings new insights and understanding. We hear stories we never knew. Be honest in your sharing because everyone has weaknesses and flaws. This is the time to acknowledge 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 cry when you feel like crying, and weep when moments move deeper. People expect those who are grieving to be emotional and you have their permission to grieve now. They won’t be as understanding if you put grief off for five or twenty years. 

Be prepared for visitations from the departed, whether this happens in dreams, visions, or simply feeling their presence when you see their possessions or smell a familiar scent. 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 an excellent time.

Find relief in the rituals and prayers of your tradition, whatever they are.  

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

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