Posts Tagged ‘grief’

When Grief And Guilt Prolong The Pain Of Loss

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by karen
Guilt and Grief

A zinnia means: I mourn your absence.

by Erin Barone

Sarah was 35 years old, with two small boys and a husband who abruptly passed away due to a brain tumor. While her husband Sam had complained of steady headaches, Sarah would blame it on stress from his job as a financial advisor and simply tell him to take some Tylenol.

After a few months of unrelenting headaches, though, her husband finally decided to see a doctor, whereupon he discovered that he had a brain tumor requiring immediate surgery. Sadly, Sam did not survive the procedure, dying on the operating table.

Since his death, Sarah has frequently made comments like “I didn’t choose this life for me, and I especially didn’t choose this life for my two little boys.” She also blames herself for having minimized the severity of her husband’s headaches, often stating, “I should have listened to him more, I should have told him to go to the doctor sooner, and then maybe they would have been able to save him before the tumor grew so big!”

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Processing Grief When A Loved One Is Lost

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by karen
Processing Grief When A Loved One Is Lost

Ed Moran at age 17 with his dad.

by Ed Moran, LCSW

Not too long ago I was paying a visit to the local Walgreens store. It was the day before Father’s Day, and, as one would expect, the greeting card aisle was loaded with sons and daughters, some young and some not so young, fishing through what was left in the racks. I smiled as I walked past and chuckled to myself. That would have most certainly been me in that aisle, sifting through the worst of the worst cards, the rejects left behind by people with better time management skills than I have. Then it hit me: 15 years have passed since the last time I needed to buy a Father’s Day card. Could it really be that long? It truly feels like yesterday, in some ways, since Dad was laid to rest. A lot has changed since then, yet a lot has remained the same.

As a therapist working with the bereaved, it’s sometimes hard to fully set aside one’s own losses. The stories that are shared in therapy are emotional and deeply personal, yet almost everyone can identify with them. Some losses are sudden while others involve long-term illness and prolonged caregiving. The relationships with the lost loved one can be extremely close or extremely complicated, which can certainly impact how one processes grief. However, regardless of the nature of the relationship, there’s no doubt that grief can put even the strongest person through an emotional roller coaster ride like no other. One client described it as “kind of bi-polar,” feeling fine one moment and bursting into tears the next, with no apparent trigger. This would often keep that client at home, due to the fear she would have an emotional outburst at an inopportune time. When someone is grieving, it can feel like the hurt is never going to heal. There are things we can do, though, to help work through the pain of loss and work toward a new normal.

  1. Try to remember that what you’re feeling is normal. Sadness is a natural response to loss, and it may come and go for quite a while.
  2. Surround yourself with supportive people. This is particularly important when the dust settles and the calls and outreach become less frequent.
  3. Don’t isolate. Try to reengage in life as soon as you can. Isolation can magnify the sadness and depression associated with grief.
  4. Maintain your routine. Bereavement can cause us to become loose with discipline and let go of healthy things like diet and exercise.
  5. Get plenty of exercise.
  6. Share stories of your lost loved one. Or ask others to share their stories with you.
  7. Try to get plenty of sleep. Even without a loss, a lack of quality sleep can leave us feeling sluggish and reduce our tolerance for stress.
  8. Avoid soothing with drugs or alcohol. It can contribute to feelings of depression and also interfere with quality sleep.
  9. Seek counseling. Grief can make you feel alone and disconnected. A bereavement group can provide a supportive environment that allows you to identify with others.
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Small Acts Of Kindness: Helping Our Friends Through Grief

Posted on July 11th, 2013 by karen

Grief

by Karen Keller Capuciati

There’s a stack of long-overdue sympathy cards piled high on my desk right now. I bought them weeks ago but haven’t managed to personalize any of the cards yet. Most likely, it’s the trepidation of not knowing what to say that has me frozen. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I’ve waited too long? What if sending a card now only stirs up painful memories?

I really know better than to think any of these things. I remember how comforting it was to receive cards and letters from friends and family after my dad died. In fact, after he passed away in July of 2006, I sat in the living room of my parents’ house and read through piles of cards, hundreds of them, it seemed, and it was just overwhelming to think about how many people cared enough to send along their prayers and well wishes. I went through the cards more than once, and the truth is, the written messages themselves weren’t that important. Just knowing that so many people were thinking of us, trying to comfort us in that painful time, was what really mattered.

It was that kind of compassion that meant so much to Kim and Mom and me. The simple email letting us know that the sender was thinking of us; the banana cake with caramel frosting that Mom’s neighbor made; the platter of sandwiches that was delivered to our door; the knowing smiles and warm hugs. It was the seemingly small acts of kindness that propped us all up during that difficult time. Remembering these moments of generosity and good will got us wondering about the various ways people show their affection and concern when a loved one has passed on, so we asked some In Care of Dad friends and contributors to share the things that helped them the most in their respective times of need.

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Healing From Grief: Getting Out Of The Tunnel

Posted on April 2nd, 2013 by karen

Grief

by Karen Keller Capuciati

“Somehow you wake up one morning and you realize, I’m going to be okay.”

These are the words of our family friend, Carol, as she looked back on the eight years since her husband Ernie died of cancer. But getting to this realization took time, and before she got there, she was feeling that nothing in the world was worth facing without the man she loved.

“It was my friend, Charlotte, who wouldn’t let me go into the hole,” Carol recalled. “When I wanted nothing more than to curl up in a corner and withdraw, Charlotte would insist on me getting out to do something — go for a ride, out to lunch, pick strawberries, anything but stay home. She wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

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Grieving Through The Holidays

Posted on December 22nd, 2011 by karen

Light a candle in memory

by Ed Moran, LCSW

As if by annual surprise the holidays are upon us again, bringing with them a sense of joy for some and apprehension for others.  Pressure to find the gift that beats all gifts, shopping lines, office parties, credit card bills, and dysfunctional family struggles can so monopolize our thoughts that the true meaning of holidays tends to elude us.  This time of year is already rife with anxiety-provoking moments, but when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be downright excruciating.

No matter how recent or distant the loss, the holiday season emphasizes, more than any other time of the year, the empty chair at the family table.  If it’s the first holiday since a death, the absence can be unbearable.  You wonder, “How can I possibly make it through?”  The fact that grief, just by its nature, can also be confusing adds to the anguish.

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