Loss of a Spouse: 5 Things Only a Widow/er Understands

Everything changes after the loss of a spouse or partner. For many, this was the person we spent most of our time with. This is who we made our plans with…the one who shared our worries. Every part of our past, present, and future revolved around this person, and to be without them is  harder, sadder, and lonelier than we ever could have guessed.

Loss of a Spouse

And here’s the thing…not only is it harder than we could have thought; the people we spend time don’t always seem to recognize the depth and duration of this loss.  This can be felt any time someone tries to cheer us up, smooth it over, or make it better. Our loved ones are well intentioned, there’s no doubt, but here is what most grievers who have lost a spouse would want those around them to understand:

Continue reading “Loss of a Spouse: 5 Things Only a Widow/er Understands”

LGBT Grief & The Importance of Finding Support

LGBT grief & lossIt’s not unusual for grievers to feel disconnected from the world around them, but for LGBT grief and loss, a lack of resources can result in increased seclusion and isolation.

While the issues faced in grief can be different for everyone, what every griever needs is the feeling of validation, acceptance and support.

Continue reading “LGBT Grief & The Importance of Finding Support”

Regret & Loss: When Remorse Hinders Healing

Regret: it’s an emotion we can all relate to and something we have experienced many times prior to the loss of a loved one. What’s interesting about regret is that it can come as equally with action as it does with inaction. We can regret doing something as much as we can regret having done nothing at all.

RegretIn life before loss, however, there is always the sense that tomorrow is another day. That even if we took the wrong path there would always be the chance to set things right.

I often say nothing can prepare us for the finality of loss, and I think in this same way nothing can compare with the powerlessness and frustration of wanting to go back and do things over or do things “right”. How hard it is for a griever to live with the fact that because of the finality of this loss, whatever went “wrong” can never be changed.

We can get stuck in this frustration. And we can punish ourselves for the things we “should” have done, the things we feel we “should” have said, the things we wish we’d done differently…

There are many reasons a griever may be feeling regret, but here are just a few examples:

Continue reading “Regret & Loss: When Remorse Hinders Healing”

How to Be Supportive When You’re Grieving Too

How to be supportiveOur worlds can become very small after the loss of a loved one. Grief can create blinders that make it hard to see past anything but our own pain and anguish. It can be challenging to get the help we need and to know how to be supportive…in the past we may have turned to friends and family when we’re hurting, but what happens when they’ve also been
impacted by this loss? Can we get the help we need, and is it possible to be supportive when we’re grieving too?

Continue reading “How to Be Supportive When You’re Grieving Too”

Multiple losses: How to Cope with Loss & Change

Multiple LossesWhen I first started facilitating bereavement groups, I sort of assumed that people would be coming for help for “just” one loss. Of course one loss is more than enough…it’s already too much. Yet so many grievers I met were experiencing multiple losses.

And while in most of my writings the word “loss” pertains only to the physical loss of a person, for the sake of this piece I’m going to discuss all types of losses. Because let’s face it, as hard as the tangible loss of a loved one is, so can the other losses we experience in life add up and tear us down just as swiftly.

Here are a few examples of the multiple losses a griever can face:

Continue reading “Multiple losses: How to Cope with Loss & Change”

What To Do If You Don’t Know What To Do After Loss

What To Do

If you read the comments in the forums of Grief in Common, you’ll see that when grievers are given an opportunity to share their story, they will talk about who they lost, when it happened, and the circumstances surrounding the loss. And besides their grief the one thing that so many of these grievers have in common is the “end” of their story, where they say, “and now I just don’t know what to do…”

For some there is a “to-do” list on the other side of loss. The planning of the memorial service perhaps, or the settling of the estate. There are closets to be cleaned out, thank you cards to write and phone calls to be made. I find for most there is a paradox in the chores that follow loss. While tedious and tiresome, sad and somber, there’s still something to be said for the role these chores play in keeping a griever on track in the beginning, and the way that they keep the deceased in their daily life, plans and conversation.

But eventually everything on the to-do list gets crossed off and there’s nothing actually left to do, but grieve.

And what does that look like? Crying all the time? Pining, longing and yearning? Because in the beginning everything about the grieving is a verb, an action – something to do. But eventually there comes a point where that changes and it feels like a noun- a thing: the grief. And what’s a person “to do” with that?

Continue reading “What To Do If You Don’t Know What To Do After Loss”

Loneliness: 5 “Don’ts” If You’re Lonely After Loss

Loneliness

The 5 Stages of Grief (as originally established by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) may be one of the most widely sited tools of grief- it’s also one of the more misunderstood and questioned. These days, experts in the field of grief and loss hesitate to offer anything that resembles a timeline for fear that it creates unrealistic expectations for how a griever “should” cope. And with good reason. Grief is too individual and too different from one person to the next. Yet, as the stages of grief suggest, there are commonalities found amongst grievers and if I were to add one final stage, I would add loneliness to the list.

Continue reading “Loneliness: 5 “Don’ts” If You’re Lonely After Loss”

Delayed Grief: When Grief Gets Worse

Delayed grief

Delayed grief…some grievers may wonder why they’re starting to experience their grief more intensely when it’s been several years since their loss. Rather than feeling they are getting “better”, they may find that they are crying more, withdrawing from friends and family, and perhaps feeling even less accepting of what’s happened.

How can this be? With more time to process, more time to experience life without a loved one, and more time to re-learn what this new life looks like…why would it suddenly feel like it’s harder to cope? And is it normal?

Continue reading “Delayed Grief: When Grief Gets Worse”

Facing Anxiety After the Loss of a Loved One

facing anxiety after the loss of a loved one

When facing anxiety after the loss of a loved one, grievers may feel that prior to their loss there was something in life they took for granted: security. Security in the world, security in the safety and comfort the deceased provided, and security in the knowledge that things would always be okay.

While there are so many things taken with the loss of a loved one, this loss of security can shake and alter a foundation we didn’t even realize we had.

Anxiety is a term (like depression) that is often misused and misunderstood. Probably because there are degrees and levels to it, and probably because so many people feel that they have experienced it in one way or another at some point in their life.

Unlike fear, anxiety is an emotion based on a perceived (instead of imminent or real) threat. It’s the worry of what could happen.

For the griever, it’s the worry of what could happen next.

Continue reading “Facing Anxiety After the Loss of a Loved One”

When Your Loss is Hurting Your Relationship

When Your Loss is Hurting Your RelationshipThere’s no question that the loss of a loved one can be felt in every part of life, but what happens when your loss is hurting your relationship? If you have lost a loved one you know (all too well) the pain, confusion and anger that can come with it. Even if support is strong in the beginning, most grievers will say that typically the consoling fades with time. And it’s one thing to not feel comforted by those we expect it from, but even worse when it feels that the loss is starting to come between us. This can happen in so many ways…a woman who lost her mother, not feeling supported by her spouse…or a couple who has lost a child, and each of them grieving very differently…a man who lost a good friend and his wife doesn’t understand why he is hurting the way he is…it can happen between friends, siblings, or just about any other relationship we have.

Continue reading “When Your Loss is Hurting Your Relationship”