Greetings to the five newest subscribers to Grief Recovery Tips. This issue is going out to 29 subscribers. Feel free to forward Grief Recovery Tips to others who may be going through the trials of a grieving process after experiencing a loss. Loss hurts, and you don't have to go through it alone. Our feature article in this issue is "The Journey From Loss to Healing".


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This week I am especially aware of the cycles of life and death. August 17th would have been my grandfather's birthday. I'll soon enter into the fall season with the anniversaries of the deaths of several family members who were very dear to me. There have been a lot of losses in the past five years. Yet, this week I am visiting my sister in Michigan who just had a new baby last Saturday. Her first one was born in 2005 just two months after our mom died of cancer at 57-years-old. Our losses change us. When we lose close family members our family will never be the same again without them. Yet somehow, over and over again, life moves on. New babies come into the world and expand our family. We experience the sorrows and joys of life. Today's article touches on the journey. How do you move from loss to healing?


The Journey From Loss to Healing

The Journey From Loss to Healing

There is one hard and fast rule when it comes to coping with the death or loss of someone you love: there are no rules.

Every loss is different, and every relationship is different, so the way each of us experiences loss and grief will vary. Grief is a journey, and when someone dies those of us who mourn will take that journey in a unique way. It’s a journey through some of the most emotionally intense and painful passages of life, and sometimes it will seem as if nothing and no one can help. However, there are some common guidelines that can be an anchor to anyone who is suffering through loss.

Death: Part of the Fabric of Life

For centuries, death was woven into the fabric of life. People were born at home and died at home, and families and cultures developed rituals to help them deal with the loss. However, in the past century, as death moved into hospitals and mortuaries, people became more removed from death. For many people, this made the process of grieving and healing much more difficult. When we approach someone who has lost a loved one, we often don't know what to say. You may have found that what others said to you was less than helpful.

But slowly we are coming back around to understanding that grief is the natural and normal human response to loss. Books, grief counseling, the growth of the hospice movement and personal rituals all attest to the ways we are confronting death in new ways. More and more people are recognizing that grief is not a mental disorder that needs treatment, but a process that needs support.

Guidelines for Grieving

On a personal level, losing someone we love as well as other significant life changes can leave us lost and unsure of what to do next. Although there are no rules to the grieving process, there are guidelines that can make the journey easier. Grievers may experience the following processes: shock and numbness; searching and yearning; disorientation and disorganization, and reorganization (or healing).

“Grief will take as long as it takes,” writes Rusty Berkus in To Heal Again: Towards Serenity and the Resolution of Grief.”There is no right way to grieve—there is just your way.” However, there are some particular steps you can take along the way that can help you complete your grief. The Grief Recovery Handbook provides a step by step process to say goodbye to the pain, while keeping the positive memories.

In the meantime, as you experience the varied manifestations of grief here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Do not expect too much of yourself, at least not for a while.

  • Be gentle with yourself and let go of ideas of the “right” thing to do or the “right” way to behave, especially if you are doing so to please others.

  • Seek support. Ask friends to help you—with practical details, as well as just by sitting and listening. Often friends want to help but they don't know how.

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your loss and about the person who has died. This is an important part of the grieving process. When it comes to death, silence is not always golden. If a friend is uncomfortable with your stories, find friends who can be there.

  • Don’t be afraid to seek help if your pain or depression becomes more than you can bear. Sometimes our friends can’t give us the help and support we need.

  • Remember that a person dies, but a relationship doesn’t. Although the person you loved is gone, he or she lives on in you.
  • In his book, Awakening from Grief: Finding the Way Back to Joy, John Welshons calls death a great teacher for the living and a gift to help us live deeper lives.

    “Nothing inspires us to want to find true happiness more effectively than thinking about our own mortality, and nothing else can communicate the urgency with which we need to pursue deeper levels of love and the sense of being fully alive.”

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