The Loss Of A Loved One~contributing article by Charlotte Underwood, Mental Health Advocate & Freelance Writer
Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one and the grief that surrounds you.
When you lose a loved one, you have to learn to live a life without them in it, but how can you when all you’ve ever known is to have them by your side?
Continue reading “Loss Of A Loved One: A Personal Account”
There’s something very special about food, especially when we examine the relationship we each have with it. For some, food is simply a way to fill a physical void, to rid ourselves of the unpleasant sensation of hunger. For others, food may fill an emotional emptiness, a way to escape mental and emotional pain.
And then there’s those who find themselves in the midst of a great loss, not feeling it matters too much one way or the other. With so many distractions filling the griever’s head, it’s possible this very basic need isn’t given too much thought at all.
Changes in diet or eating habits can be very common in grief, though the exact reasons for that seem to vary from one person to another, and the role food can play as a source of healing should not be overlooked:
Continue reading “Food as Fuel for Self Care and Healing”
“I’m feeling so lost…”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s how universal the experience of grief is. As unique a journey as each griever travels, there are still so many commonalities that connect the bereaved to one another, and nowhere is this more evident then right within the forums of www.griefincommon.com.
Occasionally it seems that a particular theme pops up (the blog “What to Do If You Don’t Know What To Do After Loss” was born from this) and the importance of this just can’t be ignored.
Recently I’ve noticed how often a griever has started their story with, “I’m feeling so lost”. I would guess just about every griever has said this at one point or another. But I couldn’t help but wonder, what does it really mean? And does it mean the same thing to each person?
Merriam-Webster lists 9 meanings for the word “lost” and all of them seem to apply, in one way or another, to the griever:
Continue reading “Feeling Lost After Loss”
Only a parent who has experienced the loss of a child through stillbirth or miscarriage can understand the pain of losing someone they never got to meet.
For most grievers, happy memories can be painful or even bittersweet at times…but memories are something this type of grieving parent will never get a chance to have.
This is a loss that is not usually validated and is often misunderstood. People may think, or even say, “why don’t you just try to get pregnant again?”, as if one child can easily be switched out and replaced by another.
After this type of loss, some will never get the chance to become a parent. So then what? What to do with the emptiness, the void, the longing and yearning of an instinct that can never be answered?
Continue reading “Stillbirth & Miscarriage Loss: A Personal Account”
“It would seem that there are no bad marriages in a grief group.” That’s what one griever said to me after attending her first bereavement group following the loss of her spouse. “I know I didn’t talk much, but I was having a hard time relating to what everyone was saying. I miss my husband, and I am feeling very lost without him. But listening to everyone else’s grief made me feel like the only one who didn’t have a picture-perfect marriage”.
I asked her to stick with the group, to give it another try. First impressions are important, but it could have been the group was feeling particularly sad that day and choosing to highlight the good times they shared with their spouse.
This widow did come back and soon became very comfortable with the group. But her words stuck with me throughout the years and I couldn’t help but notice what she had pointed out- the tendency in grief to put our lost loved ones and our relationships on a pedestal.
So why do we do this, and could this “best of” version make the grief more pronounced?
Continue reading “Unconditional Love, Unconditional Grief”
Throughout our lives, we love to tell stories. Telling our children about the day they were born, or how their Mommy and Daddy met. We love to tell funny stories, old stories, and sad stories… but the one that may be most important to share: your grief story.
You may not have ever called it that, but a grief story is something every griever has and it’s one of the most important parts of the bereavement process.
I find for most the grief story follows a familiar pattern:
Continue reading “Grief Story: The Importance of Sharing Your Loss”
Finding purpose…what a very big and very grand idea, and one that we may not spend a lot of time exploring prior to loss. Perhaps because when life is “good” our purpose is pretty clear. While it may not be glamorous, or something worthy of history remembering our name, most people are finding purpose in their day-to-day lives, even if they’re not looking for it. Going to work, raising a family, finding involvement within church and community, even a hobby or past time can plan our days and fill our lives and give us direction, along with the “why” we’re getting up and out of bed each day.
When writing about loss, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of how different grievers can be. Different backgrounds, different supports, different styles of coping. What’s also very different is how far along in their grieving someone may be, and how ready they are to accept help and ideas as they’re offered. In the beginning, with the shock and numbness of loss it can be hard to see beyond the thick fog of grief and immediate pain.
This writing is for those who may be a little further along. The timeline doesn’t matter so much as the feeling. And when a griever gets there, they’ll know it. While always sad in some way, always missing their loved one and always grieving, there does come a time for most when they feel ready for the next step.
The problem is knowing what that next step is.
Continue reading “Finding Purpose After Loss”
We always talk about the regret a griever may have leading up to their loss – did I do enough, did I love enough, could I or should I have done more?
But plenty of grievers struggle just as much with the decisions they make after their loss. And let’s face it, without their loved one there to help with these choices, and as a person already facing the mental deficits (inability to concentrate or focus) that grief brings – “mistakes” are going to happen.
Some big, some small.
The good news is there are answers in these “mistakes”. And you’ll notice that I’ll continually put the word mistakes in quotes as I believe the things we regret and wish we could change will tell us more about what we are searching for and what we really need than we may realize. At a time when we’re looking for answers of what do to, maybe it’s our “mistakes” that will hold the answers.
But first, some of the things we may regret after loss:
Continue reading “Post Loss Regret: the “Mistakes” We Make After Loss”
No one wants to be sad. In fact, we spend a good part of our life in the general pursuit of happiness, doing anything we can to avoid sadness, heartache, discomfort and pain. That is, until someone we love dies. And suddenly, not only does happiness feel so far out of reach, we may find ourselves actively (if not always consciously) avoiding grief.
The thing is, it’s not just about losing someone we love. This was someone we counted on. This was the one who helped us make decisions, or who supported us no matter what we did. This was someone who knew us like no one else, and who loved us anyway. Someone who was such a part of our daily life, that when their life ended, our life feels like it ended too.
So who would want to think about that? With so much lost and so much sadness, isn’t avoiding grief, or at least trying desperately to push down or push away the overwhelming emotions, the only thing that would make sense?
Of course there is the other end of the spectrum – those people who feel a prisoner to the grieving thoughts. Who would welcome some avoidance, or even just a short respite from the grief, if only they knew how.
Somewhere between avoidance and floundering there could be a place that allows a griever to sit with their grief without being totally and completely swept away by it.
But before we get to that, let’s look at some of the ways people may be avoiding grief and why it doesn’t work:
Continue reading “Avoiding Grief: Why It Doesn’t Work”
It’s not uncommon to feel isolated in grief. Does the grief push people away, or is the griever making a “choice” to remove themselves from friends, family, or even society in general? Like most things, the answer is probably a little of both, or something right in the middle. But why does this happen? Why would people leave us to suffer alone, or why would we prefer to go into seclusion after loss?
Continue reading “Feeling Lonely & Isolated in Grief”