:: Grief and Loss - beneath it's words.
It bears repeating.....
Recovery from a great loss involves a great deal of pain. If we try to avoid that pain, we make it harder on ourselves in the long run.
It bears repeating: Our minds may be products of the modern world inheritors of technology and science and the cultural gifts of an entire galaxy. But our bodies are children of the past, the biological offspring of a localized planetary environment that existed long before our species became sentient. To disregard what our bodies are telling us is to ignore who we are and what we need.
For example, the pain of loss what some people call grief is a physical message which demands an equally physical response. We can suppress that message through pain-killing drugs, or by immersing ourselves in our work, or by trying to deal with it on a purely intellectual level since, after all, we are rational beings, aren’t we?
And yet we can no more dismiss our pain than we can deny the pangs of hunger that remind us to take nourishment. It’s true the pangs may eventually go away. But the need that give rise to them will remain. And if we continue to suppress our hanger or our grief then what was once merely a call for attention becomes a condition that can threaten our very existence. Our bodies are for us, not against us, if only we will listen and learn its language.
Today even in pain, my body is sharing the wisdom of the ages. I will listen for the message beneath its words.
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Dealing with the death of a loved one.
The death of a loved one is an event that all of us is likely to experience during our lifetimes, often on numerous occasions. Whilst lives are often transformed by such loss, it does not necessarily need to be for the worse in the long term. Dealing effectively and positively with grief caused by such a loss is central to your recovery process and your ability to continue with and fulfill your own life for the better.
We have put together some notes in this section to help you understand some of the emotions you are likely to go through after the death of a loved one and to offer some suggestions on how best to cope and deal with these emotions.
What is Grief? Am i Grieving?... I am Grieving.
You’ll grieve in your own unique way,and a general pattern will emerge as you do so. Those around you may be full of ideas about how you’re supposed to grieve, and how not. You may be told that grief comes in clear-cut stages and you may even be given a name for the stage you’re supposedly going through. You may hear advice like "Be strong!" or "Cheer up!" or "Get on with your life!" rather than be encouraged to allow your grief to run its natural course. It’s important for you to be clear that this is your grief, not theirs. You’ll grieve in no one’s way but your own.
Grief is about more than your feelings—it will show up in how you think. You may disbelieve this person actually died. You may have episodes of thinking like this even long after they died. Your mind may be confused, your thinking muddled. You may find it difficult to concentrate on just about everything. Or you may be able to focus your attention but all you can focus on is the one who died, or how they died, or your life together before they died.
Physical responses are also to be expected. You may experience tightness in your throat, heaviness across your chest, or pain around your heart. Your stomach may be upset, along with other intestinal disturbances. You may have headaches, hot flashes, or cold chills. You may be dizzy at times, or tremble more than usual, or find yourself easily startled.
Some people find it hard to get their breath. You may, in addition, undergo changes in your behavior. You may sleep less than you used to and wake up at odd hours. Or you may sleep more than normal. You may have odd dreams or frightening nightmares. You may become unusually restless, moving from one activity to another, sometimes not finishing one thing before moving on to the next. Or you may sit and do nothing for long periods.
Some people engage in what’s called "searching behavior"—you look for your loved one’s face among a crowd of people, for instance, even though you know they’ve died. You may become attached to things you associate with your loved one, like wearing an article of their clothing or carrying a keepsake that belonged to them. Or you may wish to avoid all such reminders.
Many grieving people want to spend more time alone. Sometimes they’re drawn to the quiet and safety they experience there, and sometimes it’s a way of dodging other people. Even venturing out to the grocery store, a shopping mall, or a worship service can feel uncomfortable. There are some people, however, who want to be around others even more than before. You may find that you’re jealous of people around you who aren’t grieving.
You may envy what they have that you don’t. You may resent how much they take for granted when you now realize that nothing should ever be taken for granted. You may become critical in ways that are unlike you. Fortunately, this shift is usually temporary.
Some grieving people report unusual happenings that are not easy to describe yet seem very real. You may be going about your daily life and suddenly have a sense of your loved one’s presence.
Some people report having auditory or visual experiences related to this person. At times the loved one offers a message during a dream or time of meditation. Try not to worry if something like this should happen to you once in a while. Such experiences are more common than you might think. Research also indicates that people’s responses during times of personal loss will be influenced by how they’re raised, their genetic make-up, and society’s expectations. Consequently, some people are naturally more feeling-oriented as they grieve, while others are more oriented toward using their thinking processes. Some respond outwardly, while others keep to themselves. Some want to have a close network of friends around them, and others prefer to be independent.
Ordinary, healthy grief has many possible faces and can express itself in many different ways. You are your own person, with your own personality, your own life experiences, your own relationship with the one who died, and your own understanding of life and death. So you should not expect a "one-size-fits-all grief" that will suit you. You’re too unique for that. Despite your individual uniqueness, you’ll probably discover an overall pattern to your grief as it progresses. It often begins with a time of shock and numbness, especially if the death was sudden. Everything seems unreal.
This is usually followed by a time when pain sets in. Sadness, loneliness, helplessness, and fear may come over you in powerful waves. Anger and guilt may do the same, and continue for awhile. In time there comes a slowly growing acceptance of what has happened, but it’s not necessarily a happy acceptance.
It’s common to feel listless and lifeless, discouraged and sometimes depressed. Other strong emotions can still pop up. This is the winter of your grief—a long, slow, dormant period. In actuality, something is beginning to grow, but it’s hidden deep underground. A time of gradual reawakening eventually occurs, though you can’t always predict when. Energy begins to return. So does hope. Finally there comes a time of renewed life.
You’re not the same person you were before—you’ll be different, having been changed by this experience, having grown. You’ll forge a new relationship with the one who died, a relationship that transcends time. This entire process is very fluid. It may not feel very orderly.
These time periods will flow into one another almost imperceptibly. But when you look back, you’ll recognize what’s happened: by going all the way through your grief, you’ve taken the path toward your healing.
The story of the "bird on the branch"..............................
A tired bird was resting on a branch for support. It enjoyed the view from the branch and the safety it offered from dangerous animals. Just as it had become used to that branch and the support and safety that it offered, a strong wind started blowing and the branch started swaying back and forth, with such great intensity, that it seemed that it was going to break.
But the bird was not in the least worried for it knew two important truths. One was that even without the branch it was able to fly and thus remain safe through the power of its own two wings. The second is that there are many other branches upon which it can temporarily rest.
This small example represents the ideal relationship between ourselves and our relationships, possessions and social and professional positions. We have the right to enjoy all these, but cannot as long as we are dependent on them and are afraid of losing them. They are all in a state of change and can disappear at any time.
Our real strength dose not lie in those external ephemeral things, but rather on our two internal wings of love and wisdom. These must become our security base, our source of enjoyment and happiness.
Key principles to remember when dealing with the death of a loved one.
Accept that loss is a basic part of our life cycle. Whatever is born must die. Whatever grows must decay. These are universal laws. We tend to forget that these physical bodies are mortal. Everything we see around us will one-day decay and cease to be. That includes all plants, animals, people, buildings, cities, the planet earth, the sun and even the galaxy. Everything in the physical universe is temporary. When this fact is understood and accepted, we will begin to seek other, inner sources of security and happiness.
Confront death: We need to ask, "what is death?"
What is the nature of that energy, that power, that consciousness which, when it was in that body, caused it to think, speak, move, love, feel and create? Now that it is gone, there is a mass of cells that will soon decompose.
What is life? What is its purpose?
A number of us have been forced by the death of the loved one to investigate these questions. Death forces us to look deeper into the nature and purpose of life. Reexamine our life values and goals: Contact with death awakens us to the fact that someday we too will die. This generates a number of questions. Will we have fulfilled our life purpose? Why have we come here to the earth? Why have we taken this physical body? Is our life part of some greater process? If so, what does it require of us? How can we live our lives more in harmony with that purpose?
Answering these questions might motivate us to change our life style, live a more meaningful existence, improve our character, purify our love, or investigate the deeper truths of life. We may also discover that life is more meaningful when we value others and their needs.
How can I help a friend with the death of a loved one
Someone you know may be experiencing grief - perhaps the loss of a loved one, perhaps another type of loss - and you want to help. The fear of making things worse may encourage you to do nothing. Yet you do not wish to appear to be uncaring.
Remember that it is better to try to do something, inadequate as you may feel, than to do nothing at all. Don't attempt to sooth or stifle the emotions of the griever. Tears and anger are an important part of the healing process. Grief is not a sign of weakness. It is the result of a strong relationship and deserves the honour of strong emotion.
When supporting someone in their grief the most important thing is to simply listen. Grief is a very confusing process, expressions of logic are lost on the griever. The question "tell me how you are feeling" followed by a patient and attentive ear will seem like a major blessing to the grief stricken. Be present, show that you care, listen.
Your desire is to assist your friend down the path of healing.
They will find their own way down that path, but they need a helping hand, an assurance that they are not entirely alone on their journey. It does not matter that you do not understand the details, your presence is enough.
Risk a visit, it need not be long. The mourner may need time to be alone but will surely appreciate the effort you made to visit. Do some act of kindness. There are always ways to help. Run errands, answer the phone, prepare meals, mow the lawn, care for the children, shop for groceries, meet incoming planes or provide lodging for out of town relatives. The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention.
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Grief and Loss: 6 Steps on the Path to Healing
Are you suffering the pain and grief from some kind of loss in your life?
If so, I extend thoughts of loving kindness your way.
If so, I can empathize with you.
Some years of your life are characterized by loss, and this has been such a year for me — maybe for you too. I have experienced loss by death, betrayal, promises broken, children growing, my youth departing, and people changing in ways I’d not anticipated.
These are all normal life disruptions, but this year they have crashed together like a 10-car pile-up, happening so quickly one after another that I’ve barely had time to catch my breath.
None of them alone have been debilitating, but the accumulative effects of all of them have found me falling in potholes of grief that appear unexpectedly. One moment all is well, the next my heart is in a vice, and I’ve completely lost my footing.
If you are experiencing loss, and the grief from loss, you know what I mean.
The big losses, like death and divorce, serve up enough platefuls of grief to keep you reeling for months or years. But even less dramatic life events and changes can feel like profound loss and cause us plenty of pain and heartache. These are some of them:
- Moving from one place to another.
- Having your children leave home.
- A friend moving away.
- Friendships or other relationships ending or changing.
- Acknowledging personal or emotional changes in yourself.
- Changing jobs or losing your job.
- Seeing the effects of aging.
- Being ill or incapacitated and unable to do things you once did.
- Clearing out clutter and stuff from your home.
- Watching businesses you frequented close or go out of business.
- Letting go of a plan or dream by choice or necessity.
- Watching your parents decline.
- Coming to terms with your faith or lack of faith.
- Feeling you have no life purpose or mission.
- Acknowledging your own or another person’s imperfections.
- Having the emotions of past losses triggered by the season or other reasons.
- Having a beloved pet die.
If one or more of these situations resonates with you, please know that you aren’t alone with your feelings of grief and loss. With life change, even positive life change, comes loss. And with loss comes the very human process of grief over letting go and moving on with life.
When you are grieving, it feels as though you are so very alone with your grief. No one else can understand what you have lost, and you don’t want to burden others with your sadness or pain. This misconception often forces us into isolation or even depression, because we suffer internally and alone.
Repressing and hiding your pain doesn’t really fool others, and it certainly doesn’t help you. I’ve found that living through your grief and exposing it in appropriate and safe ways is the healthiest way to heal and move on to live fully and joyfully again.
Here are six steps to moving through grief and loss and finding your way toward healing:
1. Identify the source and acknowledge your loss
Sometimes this is quite obvious — if you are going through a divorce or have lost a loved one. Other times you might be grieving a loss, but you aren’t quite sure what that loss is. Look deeply at the changes going on in your life and let yourself experience the feelings that arise with each of them. Try to identify the situations that bring up sadness or pain for you.
Once you know the cause, acknowledge to yourself and to those close to you that you are grieving. Pretending that everything is OK when it really isn’t can cause you additional stress and will force you to repress the feelings you are experiencing. But these feelings will eventually appear in unhealthy ways like depression, anxiety, and anger.
2. Allow yourself to cry
When you feel teary, let yourself cry. Tears are the body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety and frustration.
In fact, emotional tears get rid of stress hormones and other harmful toxins caused by stress. Those who won’t let themselves cry during times of sadness and grief are contributing to the buildup of stress hormones and weakening their bodies’ immune system which can lead to stress-induced disorders.
Psychologists have known for a long time that weeping is an important part of confronting your grief and healing it.
3. Talk about it
I am a talker and must share my feelings in order to heal. Other people are more private about their pain and grief. But talking out problems, especially in a safe and supportive environment, has proven to promote self-healing through emotional disclosure. Talk therapy with a trained counselor is tremendously beneficial in dealing with grief and loss.
Talk therapy allows you to discuss issues that may be too difficult or painful to discuss with other people in your life and to process and work through these issues with a detached third party. In fact, talk therapy has proven to be more effective than antidepressants in treating mood disorders.
Talking with close and supportive friends and family members certainly can be helpful as well, but they are often too close to you and the situation to provide unbiased assistance. If you don’t think you can afford counseling, check out this information on finding free or low cost therapy.
4. Treat yourself lovingly
When you are experiencing grief and loss, your energy and mood are low. You may have physical pains, headaches, anxiety, crying spells and other symptoms of grief. This isn’t the time to “push through” and force yourself to maintain your schedule or preoccupy yourself with additional tasks or projects.
Instead, give yourself a break. Treat yourself lovingly and gently. Do what feels comforting and familiar. Take a bath or a long walk. Get a massage. Listen to peaceful music. Go to a funny movie. Eat a big bowl of soup. Get enough sleep.
When you are feeling sad, try to stay away from alcohol or other depressants. They will only make you feel worse.
Also, stay away from sad or upsetting movies or television. Try not to isolate yourself. Spend time with friends and family, even if it’s just to have them nearby.
5. Focus on gratitude
In spite of your loss, there are many good things in your life. Remind yourself of these. Write them down. If someone close to you has died, write down good memories and qualities of that person.
If you are going through a divorce, remind yourself of the blessings the marriage brought to you. If you are going through a change, look for the positive aspects of this change that you can eventually enjoy.
Grief and pain seem to overwhelm all aspects of our lives, and we forget that we have so many good things around us. Even if you aren’t feeling grateful, acknowledge those good things. The positive feelings will eventually follow.
6. Be patient
As you know, grieving is a process. Depending on the cause of your grief and loss, you may go through a variety of stages before you finally work through it.
Disbelief, anger, resistance, denial, acceptance, and healing can all be part of the process of grieving a loss.
Don’t be surprised by your feelings or try to talk yourself out of them. Allow yourself to feel them and acknowledge them, and eventually they will pass.
Feelings of loss and grief are temporary — even though you may feel forever stuck in painful emotions. We all eventually heal and find ways to move forward with our lives.
If you are grieving a loss in your life, I encourage you to reach out to someone for support.
If you know someone who is grieving, I hope you will reach out to them with words of love and encouragement.
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