Monthly Archives: May 2009

Complete These Sentences: “Grief Recovery Is . . .” “Grief Recovery Means . . .”

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Product DetailsThe Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russell Friedman has many helpful ideas about grief.

Below are some that are most meaningful to me.

Recovery is (James, 6-7)   . . .

  • Acknowledging that it is perfectly all right to feel sad from time to time and to talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react.
  • Being able to enjoy fond memories without having them initiate painful feelings of regret or remorse.
  • Being able to forgive others when they say or do things that you know are based on their lack of knowledge about grief.
  • Finding new meaning for living without the fear of being hurt again.
  • One day realizing that your ability to talk about the loss you’ve experienced is indeed normal and healthy.

Recovery means (James, 6-7, 41)  . . . 

  • Acquiring the skills that you should have been taught in childhood.
  • Claiming your circumstances instead of circumstances claiming you and your happiness.
  • Discovering and completing what was unfinished for you in your unique relationship.

Recovery “is not a one-time arrival at a set destination. It’s an ongoing process” (Wright, 68). Nor will life ever get back to normal. Life will be different because of the loss.

When we go through any significant grief experience we come out of it as different people. Depending upon the way we responded to this event we are either stronger people than we were before or weaker-either healthier in spirit or sicker.” (Westberg, 61)

 The grieving person will develop a new normal. As we shepherd our flock and/or support our family and friends we can help them develop a new normal that is healthy for their mind, body and spirit.

Let’s Talk About It

  1. How did you complete the sentences: “Grief recovery is . . .” Grief recovery means . . .”
  2. Do any of these points make an impact? Why?
  3. What skill(s) do you need to learn now that you didn’t learn in childhood?
  4. What recovery do you need/want to make?
  5. How can you support someone in their grief recovery process?
  6. How would you like someone to support you?

Works Cited

  • James, John W and Russell Friedman. The Grief Recovery Handbook. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.          
  • Westberg, Granger E. Good Grief. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.                                                                                                               
  • Wright, H. Norman.  Experiencing Grief. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2004.

Read the rest of this entry

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When to Refer a Grieving Person to a Professional Counselor

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352066_girl_on_the_phoneIt’s time to get a professional counselor involved when it looks like the person has: major depression, major anxiety, complicated grief,  and/or post traumatic stress.

These are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Characteristics of mourning that do not appear to change at all over a period of months.
  • Expression of suicidal intent.
  • Inability to be by themselves at any time.
  • Inability to care for self.
  • Pattern of alcohol/drug abuse and/or dependence.
  • Physical harm to self or others.
  • Psychotic States.
  • Severe depression.
  • Uncontrollable phobias.
  • Uncontrollable rage.

If you or someone you know is expereincing some of these symptoms, please call a counselor today. Help is available. You don’t have to struggle with the pain all alone. It can get better.

___________________________________________________________

Related Posts

  • Grief Can Become Stuck
  • 4 Differences Between Depression & Grief
  • 10 Recommendations for the Mourner
  • 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend
  • Don’t Say These 13 Things to a Grieving Person
  • Grief Affects Behaviors, Feelings, Thoughts (including memory) & Body
  • It’s Important to Grieve the Little Losses Too
  • Mourning is a Choice
  • Every Loss Can Bring Grief
  • Sometimes Nothing is the Best Thing to Say
  • Chronic Pain Brings Losses to Grieve
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • Time to Pray Away Love
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blahs
  • Live Well Today
  • Grief Can Become Stuck

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    349468_struggleUp to 20% of the bereaved population will get stuck and develop complicated grief.

    Complicated grief is a “delayed or incomplete adaptation to loss or failure in the process of mourning.” [1]

    This type of grief gets worse with the passing of time. The grief intrudes into the daily schedule making it difficult, if not impossible, for the bereaved to function well at home, work, and/or in relationships.

    Signs and symptoms of complicated grief can include: [2]

    • Bitterness about your loss
    • Depression or deep sadness
    • Difficulty moving on with life
    • Extreme focus on the loss and reminders of the loved one
    • Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
    • Inability to enjoy life
    • Intense longing or pining for the deceased
    • Irritability or agitation
    • Lack of trust in others
    • Numbness or detachment
    • Preoccupation with your sorrow
    • Problems accepting the death
    • Trouble carrying out normal routines
    • Withdrawing from social activities

    Sometimes we need help in dealing with painful situations. Grief is a painful situation. There is no shame in needing help.  In fact, I think it is a courageous person who admits their need and then finds and accepts appropriate help. If you find yourself stuck in grief, please talk to someone who has the ability to listen well and support you in your grief work. If you leave a request, I’d love to pray for you.

     _______________________________________________________

    Related Posts

  • 4 Differences Between Depression & Grief
  • 10 Recommendations for the Mourner
  • 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend
  • Don’t Say These 13 Things to a Grieving Person
  • Grief Affects Behaviors, Feelings, Thoughts (including memory) & Body
  • It’s Important to Grieve the Little Losses Too
  • Mourning is a Choice
  • Every Loss Can Bring Grief
  • Sometimes Nothing is the Best Thing to Say
  • Chronic Pain Brings Losses to Grieve
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • Time to Pray Away Love
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blahs
  • Live Well Today

  • [1] http://www.journeyofhearts.org/grief/complicate.html 

    [2] American Family Physician Article – www.aafp.org/afp/20020301/883.html

    4 Differences Between Depression and Grief

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    717652_generation_overviewSometimes when grief is not expressed well, it turns into depression. Depression shares common features with grief.  Misdiagnosis can result in overlooking depression when it is present and inappropriately treating grief.

    The following graph lists 4 differences between depression & grief. 

      Depression Grief
    Moods Moods & feelings are static. Moods & feelings are experienced in waves.
    Sadness Sad mood about everything. Sadness is centered on loss.
    Intensity Consistent sense of depletion. Feelings diminish in intensity over time.
    Self-Image Sense of worthlessness and disturbed self-image. Healthy self-image.

     

    Related Posts

  • 10 Recommendations for the Mourner
  • 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend
  • Don’t Say These 13 Things to a Grieving Person
  • Grief Affects Behaviors, Feelings, Thoughts (including memory) & Body
  • It’s Important to Grieve the Little Losses Too
  • Mourning is a Choice
  • Every Loss Can Bring Grief
  • Sometimes Nothing is the Best Thing to Say
  • Chronic Pain Brings Losses to Grieve
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • Time to Pray Away Love
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blahs
  • Live Well Today
  • 10 Recommendations For the Mourner

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    59074_sepia_face_2Mourning is hard work. It isn’t always intuitive. In fact the best ways to care for yourself are typically anti-cultural – at least to many cultures in the United States.

    Look at the below 10 suggestions. Following these will help you mourn well – or at least better.

    1. Don’t compare your loss with anyone else’s loss.
    2. Feel the emotions of grief as they come.
    3. Keep attending church.
    4. Keep trusting God even if you don’t understand all that’s going on.
    5. Tears are more than okay; they are necessary.
    6. Watch out for specific times when grief could be more intense, i.e. Third month; 6-9 months; one year anniversaries; Holidays; 18 months.
    7. Express your faith.
    8. Identify three people you can turn to anytime you need a friend.
    9. Explore all the truths from this loss.

    Let me give more details for #9. You can explore the truths by talking and/or journaling feelings, thoughts, regrets, and memories (good and bad).

    Another helpful idea is to create a loss history graph. See the books by Earl Hipp (pp 9-11) and James (pp 85-105; 113-114) for examples and complete instructions on how to do this. Completing a loss history graph helps you concretely identify each loss and its impact on you. Looking at this graph will help you find out how you typically deal with loss and if you are stuck in grieving one or more of these losses. Feeling the feelings and talking/journaling about these losses will drain the pain and lead toward recovery.

    10.Keep communicating until you are done. This is not a race. 

    Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
    Whispers in an o’er fraught heart and bids it break.
    Shakespeare

    Talk About It.

    1. Which suggestions make sense? Why?
    2. Which ones don’t? Why not?
    3. Which recommendation(s) will you follow today?
    4. Complete a loss history graph. What did you find out about yourself? How do you deal with pain? Are you stuck in grieving a particular loss?

    Works Cited

    Hipp, Earl. Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through Loss. Center City: Hazelden, 1995.

    James, John W and Russell Friedman. The Grief Recovery Handbook. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.


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    5 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend

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    146120_saying_good-byeOne of the most helpful things we can do for a friend at such a time is to stand by that friend in quiet confidence, and assure him or her that this, too, shall pass. . . Once it is realized that our concern is genuine, then the quiet assertion of our confidence in God’s continuing care and concern will assist tremendously in the friend’s recovery.” (Granger E. Westberg. Good Grief, page 32).

     Some other helpful actions include:

    1. Mainly listen.
    2. Touch/hug and pray with her, if/when appropriate and/or wanted.
    3. Get comfortable with her tears and intense emotions. Don’t try to talk her out of her emotions or minimize her loss.
    4. Let her talk about the topic of her choice. Don’t change the subject.
    5. Let her grieve as long as it takes. Don’t put time expectations upon her.

    Think About It

    • Which of the above actions are you comfortable extending?
    • Which one(s) do you like receiving?
    • What action will you do today?

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