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Grieving

All of us will likely experience grief at some point in our lives. Whether you’ve lost a family member, friend, pet, or even the loss of a dream, you may experience some symptoms of grief. Some of these are:
  • Increased confusion
  • Sleep changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Crying
  • Numbness
  • Rumination
  • Guilt
  • Inability to show or experience joy
  • Detachment

I generally recommend that you pay attention to your feelings, rather than avoid them. If you need to have a day where you stay in bed and cry, do so. There’s no need to feel guilty, wrong, or too emotional. Sometimes, we just need to allow our emotions to take us where they will. 

In time, most people’s grief abates. I’ve found the most problematic thing for many people is the idea that grief should last just a few days, weeks or months. Some grief may be expressed over several years, depending on how important the relationship was. Allow that to be ok, even though it may be difficult. Consider a grief support group or therapy if it feels too much to bear alone. Counseling or talking about your loss with others can help.

On the other hand, some people feel badly when they think they’re not grieving enough. But unless you think you are avoiding your feelings out of fear or anxiety, your grief may be delayed. The key thing to remember is that everyone grieves differently, and there is no one right way to grieve. One person may want to keep artifacts of a loved one who has died, while someone else may want to give away items that remind them of their loved one. It’s important to be careful not to judge others who don’t share your grief pattern.

Someone who has lost a loved one who was sick for a long time may experience less grieving at the time of death, because they have already processed much of their grief. Some people may even feel relief that their loved one has died, because they are no longer suffering. That is normal, and nothing to feel badly about. Just acknowledge the feeling of relief and see if any other feelings come up later.

Below are some tips and poetry that might be helpful to those who are in the midst of grieving.


Diane's Grieving Tips

Top 10 Things NOT to Say When Someone is Grieving
  1. " He/she's in a better place."
  2. "Try to focus on the positive."
  3. "It's time to move on".
  4. "You'll feel better in a few weeks/months/a year."
  5. "Get rid of everything that reminds you of him/her."
  6. "He/she would have wanted you to get over it quickly."
  7. "You need to get out more."
  8. "You're living in the past."
  9. "Don't be angry" or "Don't be sad."
  10. "He/she had a good life."

A few more....

  • And, for someone whose life partner has died:
    "You'll find someone else".
  • In the case of a miscarriage:
    "When are you going to start trying again?"
                         or
    "It's for the best; the baby wouldn't have been normal anyhow".
  • And, if someone's lost a beloved pet:
    "When are you going to get another one?"

Other Grieving Articles

The Four Tasks of Mourning (by William Worden, Ph.D.)

Supporting a Grieving Family (Reprinted with permission from SHARE Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Inc.)


Poetry

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile, the world goes on.
Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Rumi ~

The Guest House 

This being human is a guest house. 
Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 
some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all! 
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, 
who violently sweep your house 
empty of its furniture, 
still, treat each guest honorably. 
He may be clearing you out 
for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 
meet them at the door laughing, 
and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, 
because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

Mary M Green 

I'm Gone now, but I'm still very near. 
Death can never separate us. 
Each time you feel a gentle breeze, 
It's my hand caressing your face. 
Each time the wind blows, 
It carries my voice whispering your name. 
When the wind blows your hair ever so slightly, 
Think of it as me pushing a few stray hairs back in place. 
When you feel a few raindrops fall on your face, 
It's me placing soft kisses. 
At night look up in the sky and see the stars shining so brightly. 
I'm one of those stars and I'm winking at you and smiling with delight. 
For never forget you're the apple of my eye.

Sonoma therapist Diane DuBois
Sonoma Therapist Diane DuBois
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