Everyone grieves. It is not a sickness or a problem. And it is not unique to you. But it may feel like it is.
Do not walk the path alone. We will join you.
And one day, you will find your way gently back to joy.
WHAT IS GRIEF? WHAT IS MOURNING?
Grief is the tax we pay on having loved someone.
It is the often overwhelming feeling of deep sadness and sorrow that accompanies almost every kind of loss, especially the loss that the death of a loved one brings. But grief is more than that, too. It is often a combination of nearly every kind of feeling imaginable; feelings such as shock, confusion, anxiety, anger, regret, and disorientation. The mixture of feelings can change from minute to minute or from day to day.
It is natural. It is normal. It just won’t feel like it for a while.
Everyone grieves. But not everyone mourns. Mourning is grief gone public; it is the naming of one’s loss and its subsequent sadness to another person or, better yet, to a community of persons, who can, through compassionate listening and an attentive presence in your life, hold you in your grief, which honors both your loss and your still hoped-for future.
Although everyone grieves, no one grieves like you do. It is an intensely personal process, and there is no right or wrong way. No one will be giving you a grade.
However, because it can be debilitating, there are perhaps healthier ways than others to grieve. It is to that topic — good grief — that we turn in these pages to draw you in and to shine the light.
Grieving hurts. Grieving alone can be unbearable. You do not have to do it alone.
Let us walk this path with you.
Why Continuing Care?
The moment you invited us into your life to care for your loved one, we made a commitment to
honor your family in every way that we can.
With our emphasis on pre-arrangements, we invite you to honor your own lives, to make your wishes known, to provide a gift to your loved ones, and to relax in the knowledge that your plans have been made known and that your wishes will be honored.
With our commitment to the services we provide, we ensure that your entire experience, as awful as the death of a loved one always is, is nonetheless a peaceful one in which you and your family can have the confidence of knowing that your best interests will always be served.
However, just as the grief you experience doesn’t end with the funeral, neither does our care.
Grief is always hard, in one way or another, even after the death of a loved one who lived long and lived well, not to mention those deaths for which we could have never prepared.
The support and care you have around you in the days, weeks, and months following your loss can make all the difference in the world. The more support you have the more healthy your grief can be and the more robust your celebration of the life of the loved one you’ve lost.
Remember: you are not alone.
Our commitment to you is to be there and to provide you with the help you may need, perhaps now, perhaps later.
Our Executive Director of Counseling, Dr. Jonathan Eric Carroll, is happy to walk with you, to help shine light on your path through grief, and to listen as you remember and recover.
The Continuing Care Services we offer you include:
• Grief Therapy with Dr. Carroll, our Pastoral Counselor-in-Residence.
• An invitation to attend the Good Grief Group, a monthly group counseling opportunity open to anyone who is living with grief and who desires to grow in and through the experience of it. This group is facilitated by Dr. Carroll.
• Access to a wide range of web-based literature on the gift and the burden of healthy grieving, mourning, remembrance of death, and celebration of life.
• Community-Wide Remembrance Services, including “Blue Christmas: A Service of Healing & Wholeness on the Longest Night of the Year,” held every December 21st for those for whom the holiday season is difficult to bear in the face of deep loss and sorrow.
We have promised that you are not alone. We mean that. Let us walk with you now, but also well beyond the funeral.
FIRST DAYS, FIRST STEPS
Tips for the Early Days of Grief After a Loss
You have suffered a loss, a wound, a serious life injury. Nothing will be the same again. There is a hole in the fabric of things. It is going to take some time.
These are the first days of the rest of your life. Firsts are hard. First birthday, anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Please don’t expect yourself to act normal. You can’t.
There is a new normal now.
You may be in shock; you may feel numb; your heart may ache; you may not even be aware yet of all that has happened. Or, you may be all too aware, and are exhausted from all that you have been doing to care for a loved one.
And they are gone.
First things first: be gentle with yourself. That is what this time is for. Gentleness.
You may not want to eat, see people, wash your clothes, or get out of bed.
That is ok for now.
Try to rest when you’re tired. Drink plenty of water. Eat when you can. Cry. You’re going to cry. And when the pain eventually becomes less remarkable than the joy-filled memories, laugh. Allow others the privilege of taking care of you. You are not burdening anyone. Lower your expectations. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you may make in these first days.
Right now, it’s all about gentleness. First steps are big steps when you’re learning how to walk again. That is how grief can sometimes feel. Be patient. Be kind to yourself.
grief cannot be rushed
While time does not heal all wounds, all wound can be healed in time.
Your journey is your own. There is none other like it. This is why, in part, it can be alienating, leaving you to feel like you’re on another planet, all by yourself, left to figure out how to survive now that you have lost what may feel like everything.
This is, in part, why grieving with others who grieve can be so very helpful. While everyone has his/her own path to find, chances are you might find that path sooner because of your participation in a group of grievers, a community of recovery.
Even still, grieving takes time. And there is no standard, no game clock, term limit. In fact, there is simply no way to know how long it will take before you start to feel normal again. The one thing you can bank on is that grieving will take longer than you wish it would. Perhaps it already has.
Grief is a process. An on-again-off-again experience marked by peaceful moments, then tragic ones. There is no switch to flip, no breaker to throw. Once it’s begun, it will stay a while.
Try not to fight it. Try to welcome it in, learn from it, ask it questions, get to know its intentions.
If nothing else, grief connects you to the love you shared with your beloved whom you’ve lost. It is a way of spending time with your memories of them.
In that way, even if grief could be rushed, you’d probably choose not to.
You will begin to feel better somehow, sometime. Until then, talk about it to yourself, to trusted loved ones, to a counselor, or within a grief recovery group.
Let us help. We have plenty of time for you.
every new grief is an old grief revisited
You are no stranger to loss and to the subsequent grief it brings. You have been here before; if it wasn’t a grief this deep, it was grief nonetheless.
Like most things, grief is connectional; it is cumulative. It never comes to you in a vacuum, individually packaged, neatly separated, tidy, and singular.
Instead, the loss you’ve suffered brings every other loss you’ve ever experienced along with it. It can feel frenzied. It can be chaotic. It may be messy. This is why you may feel like your world is collapsing around you, like things are falling apart.
It’s hard enough to suffer a loss of any kind (job termination, displacement, divorce, death of a loved one) on its own, but every time you do, you are forced to cope again with every loss you’ve suffered until now.
This is especially true, and perhaps even more so, when we have not given ourselves the opportunity to grieve our past losses thoroughly enough. Unfinished business, unresolved pain, unprocessed grief can be debilitating.
Most of the time, we are unaware that this is happening. When we experience multiple losses and the griefs they bear unknowingly, we may find the burden of the weight of it all to be too much.
But when we are aware, when we are awake to what is going on, we can be intentional about finding ways to manage the many griefs we carry; to name them, one by one; to reckon with each of them on our own terms; and, to carve a path through (and never around) them toward healing.
The griefs - all of them, past and present - will still hurt, but finally you will have the means with which to come to terms and to make peace with your losses, and to begin to appreciate who you are becoming because of (not despite) what you have endured.
You are always stronger than you think you are.