Perfectionism Paralysis

I pulled this inspirational card today and it spoke volumes to me.  I’m the perfect example of perfectionism.  So much so I get into perfectionism paralysis!

It was no wonder that when it came my time to grieve, I’d worry if was I doing it right!

“There is no right way, I was told.  Everyone’s journey is unique and we get over our grief when we do”.

Ok, my nursing background kicked in and I thought.  I cannot imagine a doctor telling a patient that.  How helpful would that be to the person with cancer or heart disease?

No, indeed they wouldn’t, instead, they outline the prognosis and the journey they have evidence in seeing for patients with the same diagnosis.  Then they give helpful information for what they can do to help the person heal or suggest potential cures for them.  They are offering them HOPE.

This indeed is what I do, I offer, my clients Hope that they can heal their heartache and move through their grief. I offer helpful information and assist them to plan their own healing journey.

It isn’t about forgetting their loved one, or that they didn’t love them enough if they heal.  It’s about showing them what is possible when they work through their grief with guidance and support.

If you are curious about what grief coaching can do for you, please connect with me.

Healing from your grief is about moving your loved one into your heart and out of your head.

 

Mother’s Day – How Will You Celebrate It?

Remembering Previous Mother’s Day

In the past for Mother’s Day, I would drive over and pick up mum.  We would then have lunch and chat up a storm.  When the conversation began to repeat we would get back into the car and drive to visit a nursery on the outskirts of town to buy plants and fun things for the garden.  I would treat her and buy her favorite flowers for her window boxes and balcony pots.  Mum, in turn, would buy me something special for my garden.

We had carried out this ritual for years until I discovered mum’s memory wasn’t as good as it once was.  I began to notice that she would become agitated and combative when we went out for lunch.  So, I decided to cut out lunch with a suggestion that we celebrate Mother’s Day when the weather became warmer.  That worked well, we would still go to the nursery and then I’d bring her home for a cuppa tea.  Mum loved her garden and had always enjoyed pottering around.  It was no surprise when they moved to an apartment, flower pots and planters were installed immediately on their balcony.  It was lovely to see the enjoyment this activity gave her right up until she died.

Three Years Later after Mum’s Death

It has now been 3 years since this ritual of ours ended and now I often think of those special times spent together.  The first few years were rather hard and certainly rather teary but this year, although sad it is with fond memories as I plan to purchase a planter of pansies to take to where she is buried.  I will spend a few moments in quiet reflection as I sort the pot out and place it where I believe she’d approve.  I’m certain I will sense her smiling and looking down.  Grateful that I still remembered.

Never too old Adult Orphans still feel the Loss of Mom’s

Are you an orphaned adult like myself?  Then you will relate.  Regardless how old you are when mom’s death occurs.  You never feel old enough or prepared enough to cope with life without that important person in your life. Perhaps your mom is ill and you are now her caregiver and you have scaled back on Mother’s Day.  You may even be planning to forget about the day because for you it is too painful.  Whatever is in your heart to do, know it is right for you and do it anyway – however, whatever it is, do it guilt free.  Your heart will heal if you allow and the memories of Mom will bring you joy instead of heartache.  If you struggle with your grief, or you feel you aren’t able to move on, please connect with me

Traditional Funerals or Celebration of Life?

 

What will you Choose?

Will it be a traditional funeral or celebration of life? That would depend on the person, or the family especially if the person died suddenly leaving no instructions. There are those brave souls who prefer to plan well ahead and will organize every detail for when their time comes.

photo credit: Jim Surkamp via photopin cc

For those less brave, they will prefer to defer it instead for fear it may bring death closer to them. What about those souls, who are conscious of the expense for a more traditional funeral? So will settle instead for a less expensive option. Or cost isn’t the factor; they believe they are protecting their loved ones from the ritual & pain of mourning?

We forget the importance of Rituals

It seems, in our haste to move on and quickly move through our grief, we don’t see how these rituals help with the healing process. We may consider them”old-fashioned and stuffy.” However, many do serve a purpose as they help you to accept the death. They also create space to feel supported during your time of grief. These rituals help create a container for you to mourn with your tribe and your community.

As we move on or rush through these essential rituals, what are we teaching future generations? How will they know what to do or deal with their grief if we are unwilling to show them? Often the guest of honor is not present at their funeral. Gone are the days when the guest lay in the front parlor for all to see. Children were usually present perhaps running around the casket, peering in and asking their questions. The adults would openly mourn and wail as they allowed their grief to flow. These parlors today have been replaced, and the task handed over to the funeral homes. Some people are even by-passing them, as they are opting for cremation with their remains scattered elsewhere. The celebrations of life are carried out in restaurants or other non-traditional space.

What will your choice be? There are indeed many options.  Will it be the traditional route, one that has worked for centuries?  Or something less traditional?

Bypassing Emotions

Personally, I find moving directly to a celebration of the person’s life can avoid your emotions. It doesn’t take into account the need to reflect or what your feelings are about the death. We need this time to process and is part of the grieving process. It is important to celebrate the contributions a person has made while here on this earth. Just not over tea and cake or wine and cheese with little reference to the person.

As a Society, already death averse, is this just another way for us not to feel or be with our heartache? We are condensing everything into a few hours. Is that the value we placed on the deceased?

Funeral & Celebration of Life

I’m in that delightful age bracket when scheduling a funeral or celebration of life into my agenda has become the norm. There was a time when it didn’t appear with the same frequency as now. Now I speak from a vantage point of experiencing these different funeral events. Certainly, one way to support the family is to go to the visitation and show you are there for them. Talk about deceased person and listening will show you care. Whether you attend a service at a church or funeral home you show the family they are supported by their community. These rituals create that container for grief to be held and allow mourning to begin.

My Experience with Celebrations of Life

A few years ago, at one celebration I attended, it was a mix of old and new combined. There were many friends and family members eager to share their stories of the person they lost all too soon to cancer. Everyone’s story was moving and filled with joy, and at times tinged with bittersweet moments. Or laughter. Each speaker allowed you to share in their journey with the deceased.

After a short while of listening, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It was interesting to note, how everyone was crying quietly, dabbing their eyes politely as if this shouldn’t be happening. The grief in the room was palpable, and I wanted to sob out loud. I was uncertain that if I did so, would others join in or would they look at me strangely? This wasn’t my relative but a person who had touched my life, so I did not feel it was my place to behave this way.

It isn’t Polite to Cry in Public

Besides my mum’s voice had entered my head “Anne, it isn’t polite to cry loudly in public” that was enough to shut myself down. I could no longer respectively allow my emotions free range. I would deal with them later at home.

With so much grief now being felt but never acknowledged, the family continued with their Agenda ending the moment with a singer. This was the transition moment. We were then invited to join them for a celebration of the person’s life over a cuppa tea and cake.

I then wondered how people could switch in an instance from pain to celebration in minutes. They had done a great job in creating the container for our collective grief, but this grief needed more. Perhaps an opportunity for quiet reflection, composing ourselves before joining the celebrations.

In our death averse and ever so polite society, crying in front of strangers just isn’t done. I often wondered if the family was still in shock and going through the motions. Or did they have ample opportunity to mourn prior being surrounded by family and friends so that they could now take a pause and start celebrating?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a proper celebration, however, immediately after death I think it is missing the point. I believe this is the end step of mourning, not the beginning. Two rituals are missing from the equation. This now leads to yet another discussion – another blog in the making!

 

The Journey – A Beginning, Middle & End

The river of life flows through us all

Then when a death occurs, we get to fall

into Grief’s Abyss, a dark unfamiliar place

Down into the valley where we all must face

How to cope with all the changes

when the familiar landscape rearranges

Gone are the roads and highways once traveled

as our lives become unraveled

 

We’ve taken a wrong turn; we’re not meant to be here

We look around us and go into fear

as our compass resets and the road on the map shows

we must follow this path along where the river flows

Through a forest of Grief, this pathway we see

widens and intersects—which to take so we’ll be free?

One road leads to the flatlands, which go on for miles

there is nothing of interest it seems that will bring back smiles

 

The other has a roundabout with three roads just around a bend

Guilt, anger, and acceptance; oh, when will this journey end

Choose one, for the only way through is to openly mourn

So many people have traveled here long before you were born

Each has found his or her own way out and you will too

You will leave this land behind to face life anew

The climb back is steep; let me lead the way

I know you doubt, “How does she know?” I hear you say

 

For I have traveled through here some time ago

I got to claim my prize, Grief’s Gifts and I’m now in life’s flow

A review of your journey will show where you’ve been

glimpses of your growth, goals, and purpose all seen

We are all here to welcome you back for we know you are worthy

You’ve been gone for a while on your own a Hero’s journey

Whenever we get back into the river of life that flows through us all,

We’ll take comfort—we have our map and are ready if we fall

into Grief’s Abyss for we know

 

The Wheels of Samsara turn; the cycle of life continues

Does Grief End?

When Does Grief End?

If grief follows the natural sequence of life wouldn’t it stand to reason that there is a beginning, a middle and an ending or does it spiral continuously throughout one’s life?

This is a great question and one that will be different in each case.  For some, they never get over grief but rather learn to live with it.  This is sad because they are not living their lives to its fullest and rather just making do.

Then there are those who believe it will end when it ends.  Research has shown that if you allow yourself to grieve and be with it – then the heavy grieving where you are consumed by tears on a daily basis does begin to subside after about 3 months.

A Family’s Grieving

Let’s look at the question from the point of view of a young child whose has lost her father to death.  Depending on the family dynamics the grief can become prolonged as it goes underground and presents itself later in life at different moments in time.  This was the case for the person who first asked me this question?

I didn’t get the opportunity to delve deeper so what I’m writing now is pure speculation.   Often it will be hard for a widow with children to find time to grieve.  She now has more responsibilities and has to take care of everything including the family.  Her grief can be put on hold.

Perhaps she isn’t comfortable grieving in front of the children so will stop herself if they are around.  They may even hear her crying in her bedroom and wonder why?  Children are amazing and will pick up on this and believe they did something wrong so it’s their fault.

When a child believes this, it can create conflict within them. They don’t know how to deal with these feelings.  To help themselves cope they may develop bad behavior or rebelliousness to help them feel better.   There is the other extreme where they withdraw and try extra hard to always do the right thing. They become good girls or boys.

Growing Up Without Dad

Regardless of how the loss was dealt with or how well they moved on with their lives, their grief may resurface at different times and for different reasons. It is often the milestones in life that tug at our hearts.  Such as, when a young woman marries and is inconsolable at the thought that her dad won’t be by her side.  Or when her children are born, and she realizes her dad will never know them.  These situations can cause her to feel her loss acutely once again.

A young boy may feel resentful of his friends when he sees them with their dad.  Or when his friends are playing sports or going on trips.  It can be at these moments he feels the emotions but doesn’t know how to handle it.  Crying isn’t an option, especially for boys.  Those painful feelings may arise again when he buys his first car or when he buys his first house and it needs fixing.  He can feel the loss of his dad all over again.

So, to answer the question, does grief ever end?  It does end after the first event “the death” itself.  The other losses are the firsts & seconds that I warn my clients about when they face these transitions through their life.  Being aware of them doesn’t stop us from feeling these losses but what it does do is prepare us so that they don’t overwhelm us and we can plan for them.

Life is a series of losses and with each loss comes an opportunity for growth and learning.
This is how as humans, we evolve into expanded versions of ourselves.  If it weren’t for loss when would growth and new learning occur?

Grief then is the alchemy turning our lead into gold and is as much a part of life as birth.

We must welcome in our grief as much as we welcome in our joy.  Grief and Joy walk hand in hand just as surely as grief has a beginning, a middle and end like all emotions if they are given space.

If you’re still wondering if your grief will ever end, I have a solution and I’d love to chat with you more about it.  Please email me at anne@reconnect-from-grief.com and we will set up a time.