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“Grief Support in a Most Complex Time” -The Rev. Maureen Doherty, Grief Support Facilitator

Posted on May 27, 2020

How often do we say, “the world has changed since we last connected with you?” Truly, that is the case now. We did not send out a “Courier” in March because the COVID-19 pandemic had flipped the way we were all going about day to day business so much. The “flips,” the “unknowns” continue and we have no idea how long this will last. For each of you who have lost loved ones this time has been unimaginable. Even though you may have gotten used to being alone, this time has complicated that; being alone in the past did not mean never going out, not seeing family, not being able to gather with friends for dinner, and not being able to join others in our Grief Support Group. Now, everyone is learning new ways going forward, sometimes bigger steps backwards, some are finding new interests. Some of you may be helping families or suddenly working from home and being teachers, leaving you little time to ponder your loss and yet thankful for arms around you. Some wonder what is next after getting up each day? We say often, “the grief journey is not a journey to walk alone.” We want you to know that we are with you in whatever way we can be to support you at this time.

As I write this, I know that some of you who are reading have the grief of not being able to be with loved ones at the time of their death weighing heavily on your heart. Funerals were not a gathering of friends and family; they were a time for a few to gather to say farewell. Your time now is alone in ways we did not imagine. Your experiences will be a great support to others and you will teach us.

As you begin each day it is critical that you ask yourself how you can “get through” this time of grief in a way that you stay physically, mentally and spiritually healthy. Some are learning new computer skills, some finding themselves ZOOMing into this group and that group, and some are finding that this “old thing” called the telephone can be a friend! It is critical that you find a way to connect with one or more people who will listen to you, who will walk with you and who will be with you in whatever way possible when you need a human presence.

We are getting our Grief Support Group back together again, yes ZOOMing! We felt that for each of you, being able to share where you are in your journey with others who have lost loved ones is critical and we cannot just stop. So, while sitting at a screen is not the same as gathering in our room at Kimball Ridge, it is a time where you can be together, you can be heard, you can laugh, cry, scream and be glad to have been with others who get where you are. The directions for our gatherings are on the back of this Courier. Please call us and give us your email so that we can connect.

As you journey there are things that come up constantly and things that you need to be mindful of. In the delightful book Tear Soup, A Recipe for Healing After Loss, by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck Deklyen, Grandma places you in the kitchen to ponder ingredients. You might be there alone, you might be a man finding your way around the kitchen. You might be a child cooking alone or a friend who has come to join you in cooking. Today we invite you “to be the cook.” Follow Grandma as she mixes the pot. As you are able to mix the soup know that you are healing; you are going forward. If you would like more info on cooking with Grandma, let us know.

If You Are The Cook

Excerpt from page 48, Tear Soup, A Recipe for Healing After Loss, by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck Deklyen:

 - This is your grief—no one else’s. Your friends can’t feel your loss in the same way. It will not affect their life the way it affects yours. And you may resent them for that.

· At first you may think dying would be preferable to having to go through this pain. Just try to stay alive. Sudden mood swings are normal. You may suddenly be unreasonable and short.

· Try your best to educate your friends about what you need and how they can help. Be as honest as you can be about how you are feeling.

· Don’t give up on your friends if they let you down. But if they continue to be insensitive to your grief you may need to distance yourself for a while until you get stronger.

· At first you will probably want to talk to as many people as possible, but after a month or so, find one or two people whom you can count on for the long haul to just be there and listen when you need to talk.

· Write your thoughts in a journal. It will help you to process and also to remember the new insights you are learning.

· Consider attending a support group. Go at least three times before deciding if it is helpful to you.

· Be open to counseling.

· Exercise, sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and eat a well balanced diet.

· Pamper yourself. Take bubble baths. Get a massage.

· Try not to compare your grief with another’s. You don’t earn points for having a more painful experience than someone else has. And you won’t feel less grief if someone else’s loss is worse.

· You deserve to feel happy again. Being happy doesn’t mean you forget. Learn to be grateful for the good days.

· Don’t be too hard on yourself.

· Long after everyone else has forgotten your loss, you will continue to remember. Learn to be content with your private memories. ▪

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