Posts Tagged ‘Grief Loss and Bereavement’

There is only one certainty about life, and that is death.

The death of a loved one will touch us all at some time in our lives. And when it hits us, we all cope with grief in a different way, and for different lengths of time.

Grief isn’t something that can easily be described, as it’s different for everyone – some people take years to work through their grief, others take a few months, while some are able to acknowledge their loss and move on almost immediately.

Even then though, you may find times when you think you’ve worked through your grief, but the next moment it’s right there in front of you staring at you, and wrapping itself around you again.

No matter how hard you try not to let grief take over your life, it will demand you feel it and acknowledge it. There may be days when you’ve made it through the day without your grief, but then the second your head hits the pillow, your grief comes flooding back and it lies heavy on your heart all night.

Grief is natural, but have you noticed how no-one really knows what to say to you when you’re grieving, even though all you want is for someone just to hug you or hold you while you let your grief pour out.

Grief is natural, but when you’re experiencing it, it can seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deal with. Grieving shows us just how deeply we care about or loved the person who has died. It may even be that it’s their death that actually makes us realise just how much they meant to you.

Don’t let another day pass without realising how much those around you truly mean to you, because when they are gone, you will never get another chance to tell them just what they mean to you.

Grief comes in one size, Extra Large.

If we tuck it away in the bottom drawer

where it never sees the light of day,

it remains exactly the same.

On the other hand, 

if we wear it, feel it, talk about it,

and share it with others,

it is likely that it will become faded, shrunk and worn,

or will simply no longer fit.

When grief has served its purpose,

we are able to recognize the many gifts we have gained.

Grief is something which we all cope with differently

Yes, everyone copes with grief differently – some fall apart struggling to find the energy to get out of bed, while others seem to have unending strength being able to carry on with life as if nothing as happened.

So just while someone may not show their grief for a loved one in a way you’d expect, do not think they are not grieving, as we all cope differently, and surely whatever helps us to cope in these circumstances must be good!

Grief

On 6th September, one year ago today, we were awoken before 7am by my mobile phone ringing. When your phone goes before 7am on a Sunday morning, you know there’s a problem, and sure enough, that day was no problem – It was the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice calling to tell me my Mum had deteriorated and that I should come in. Sadly despite out best efforts, Mum passed away before we got to her.

Mum vickis weddingWell it might be a year since Mum died but it still feels like just yesterday in many ways – Where has this last year gone!

There’s so many things I now wish I’d talked to Mum about, told her or done for her, but it’s too late now. I still find myself thinking I’ll just phone Mum and tell her such and such…and then I stop myself…

There’s so much more I wish I could say about Mum today, but even one year on, it’s still too hard for me to do so. So I simply want to say this, Mum I never told you often enough when you were here how much I loved you, and how much I appreciated all you taught me about life and God.

Mum was a Christian, and was proud have been brought up in the Salvation Army where she served God all her days. This song reminds me of Mum and her strong faith, and I simply pray I too can keep my promise to God, to serve Him all my days.

Bereavement affects us all at some point in our lives and we get through it in different ways; some seem to cope as if nothing has happened, others struggle to cope; some find it easy to take about their loss, others prefer the quietness and reassurance of their own memories. However we cope when someone we love passes away, we are grieving and it’s important to give ourselves time to grieve and not expect life just to carry on as normal for as, as our lives will never be the same again after a loved one dies.

So today, and every day, I remember my Mum, Margaret Jackson Watson Johnson nee Gilchrist (27/9/1931 – 6/9/2015) – I miss you so much, you’re never far from my mind and I will always love you.

Aunt MaeOn the 3rd of April 2013 at about 6.300am, one year ago today, we received the phone call we’d been expecting, but dreading, it was the hospital to tell us that my Aunt Mae had died just a few minutes earlier.

Well one year on, and I’m still finding it hard to cope with my Aunt Mae and my Dad not being with us anymore. It still seems unbelievable in many ways that in the space of just a few weeks last year Dad and then Aunt Mae died.

In many ways my grief for them took a back seat for a number of months as I tried to help my Mum cope with the lost of her husband and her sister. Mum is coping a little better these days, although just like me, she has her moments!

Bereavement affects us all at some point in our lives and we get through it in different ways; some seem to cope as if nothing has happened, others struggle to cope; some find it easy to talk about their loss, others prefer the quietness and reassurance of their own memories. However we cope when someone we love passes away, we are grieving and it’s important to give ourselves time to grieve and not expect life just to carry on as normal for as, as our lives will never be the same again after a loved one dies.

So today, I remember my Aunt Mae, Mary Waddell Gilchrist (23/10/1922 – 3/4/2013) who passed away one year ago today,  and my Dad, both of whom I miss so very much, you’re both never far from my mind and I will always love you both.

 

On the 21st of February 2013 just after 7.10am, one year ago today, I received the phone call I’d been dreading for a while – It was the nursing home my Dad was in phoning to Dad at our weddingtell me that Dad had died just a few minutes earlier.

Well one year on, and I’m still finding it hard to cope with Dad not being with us anymore, which in itself is a bit odd, as for a while prior to his death, Dad wasn’t really Dad anymore anyway, because of the vascular dementia which eventually killed him – It looked like Dad, but it was a shell of the man I knew and loved as much of the time he didn’t know us, or even speak to us in his final few months, so in many ways we’ve been mourning Dad’s “death” for a lot longer than one year.

I can’t believe that’s now a year since Dad left us, as so much has happened in this last year to my family. There’s so many situations I find myself in that I just want to go talk to Dad about and then have to stop and remind myself that Dad’s not here anymore…

There’s so much more I wish I could say about Dad today, but even one year on, it’s still too hard for me to do so.

Bereavement affects us all at some point in our lives and we get through it in different ways; some seem to cope as if nothing has happened, others struggle to cope; some find it easy to take about their loss, others prefer the quietness and reassurance of their own memories. However we cope when someone we love passes away, we are grieving and it’s important to give ourselves time to grieve and not expect life just to carry on as normal for as, as our lives will never be the same again after a loved one dies.

So today, and every day, I remember my Dad, Edwin Robert Johnson (25/4/1927 – 21/2/2013) – I miss you so much, you’re never far from my mind and I will always love you.

 ‘There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you…..When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am'” ~ John 14:2-4

I can be difficult to cope when our loved ones pass away, however I believe that they pass away when God is ready for them to take their place with Him. Life is about living for Him, doing things He needs us to do in His time, and therefore it should be no great surprise that even death takes place in His time.

Shed a tear when your loved ones leave this world, that’s only natural, but be assured that God has prepared a place for them, with Him.

 

It may be a cat, a bird, a ferret, or a guinea pig, but the chances are high that when someone close to you dies, a pet will be there to pick up the slack. Pets devour the loneliness. They give us purpose, responsibility, a reason for getting up in the morning, and a reason to look to the future. They ground us, help us escape the grief, make us laugh, and take full advantage of our weakness by exploiting our furniture, our beds, and our refrigerator. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Pets are our seat belts on the emotional roller coaster of life–they can be trusted, they keep us safe, and they sure do smooth out the ride.

by Nick TroutTell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon

Grief can be even tougher to cope with if you are on your own. However, as Nick Trout says above, even the company of a pet, can be the comfort and companionship you need to help you through the difficult days after a bereavement.

So if you have a pet, I hope you realise they can be your companion during these days, but if you haven’t, why not consider getting a pet to keep you company. After all, not only will you enjoy their companionship, I’m sure they will enjoy you company just as much, if not more.

memoriesAs you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I’ve been writing a number of posts giving some thoughts on how to cope with the death of a loved one.

Today I want to focus on boundaries…your boundaries!

Protect your boundaries – You are the only one who truly knows and understands how you feel and how you are coping with your grief.

Some will avoid speaking to you as they will find it difficult to know what to say to you, others will offer words of comfort and extend their sympathies to you. Some will extend invitations to you, or ask you to take on tasks – Don’t pressurize yourself into saying, “Yes“. Instead, give yourself permission to say, “No thank you” or “I’ll pass on it for now”. Remember it’s about you, and how you are feeling, it’s not about any one else.

Another way of protecting your personal boundaries is to accept an invitation from someone, but put some limits on it. e.g. Tell them, “Yes, I will be happy to join you, but please know that I may have to excuse myself a little earlier than others”.

Finally, remember when you’ve suffered a bereavement it’s ok to protect your personal boundaries. However if you accept an invitation that’s been offered to you, don’t fret about it, because the anticipation of the occasions is always much worse than it actual turns out to be. Rest assured that, with God‘s grace, the occasion will not be nearly as difficult as you think it will.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” ~ Psalm 34:18

As I’ve mentioned in my previous Managing Grief blog posts I’m doing a series on how to manage grief following the loss of a loved one.

So what do I want to focus on today…holiday times!

Holiday times can be physically draining at the best of times, never mind when it’s the first holiday time you’ve experienced since your loved one died. it may also be a lonely time for you as you may not have other friends and family around you to support you through this time.

In Managing Grief #2 I said it was important to remember your loved one, and this is no more relevant than during holiday times. So make sure you take time during these period not just to try to come to term with the fact that your loved one is no longer with you during these holidays, but also to remember and even laugh at memories of past holiday occasions.

They always say “laugher is good for the soul”, well I would add that “laughter is good for grief”. i.e. Remember the good times with your loved one, remember the funny stories/events that have taken place during holiday occasions and smile and laugh at them once again.

So don’t be lonely during the holiday times, whether that means you’ve got friends and family around you or whether that means you’re by yourself remember past holidays with your loved one…whatever you find yourself doing, enjoy the memories, laugh at the funny memories because they will do you the world of good.

funny-random-happy-memories

As I’ve mentioned in several previous blog posts (Managing Grief #1 and #2), I’m doing a series of blog posts on how to manage grief following the loss of a loved one.

Today, it’s all about you!

finger-pointing

One of the most important things to do following a bereavement is to make sure you look after yourself physically. We can so often be caught up organising the funeral and taking care of all the practical things that need done following the death of a loved one, that we forget to look after our own health.

If there has been a period of hospital visiting prior to your loved one passing away, it’s likely that you have been rushing around doing all your normal daily tasks plus visiting them in hospital every day, and that can have a detrimental affect on your health, never mind coping with their death!

So take care of yourself physically, because you will be no use to anyone if you are ill, and your grieving process will be even harder if you don’t feel well.

I came across the following acronym and found it useful, so please try to remember this and follow its instructions:

DEER

  • Drink
  • Eat
  • Exercise
  • Rest