"Music that inspires gratitude, hope & healing." Amy Sky, Olivia Newton-John & Beth Nielsen Chapman

Category: Loss of Child

What I Learned about Love from Patients and Their Families by Patti Maloney, George Mark Children’s House

What I Learned about Love from Patients and Their Families by Patti Maloney, George Mark Children’s House

I witness love every day in my job as a social worker at George Mark Children’s House. George Mark is a place of support and caring for children who have life-limiting illnesses and their families. A large part of what makes George Mark special is […]

Actively Moving Forward: College Students Helping Each Other, Helping Themselves by Fran Solomon

Actively Moving Forward: College Students Helping Each Other, Helping Themselves by Fran Solomon

Empowered Through Grief! Until now, HealGrief has been an online social support network for people who are grieving, bereaved or for those just wanting to support them. With an average of 2 people dying every second, potentially we serve the millions of those left behind. […]

A New Year’s Resolution for the Grieving? Live On.

A New Year’s Resolution for the Grieving? Live On.

Here we are, the first official work week of 2017 and for many, it’s an exciting time filled with hope and anticipation for a new and better year. However, millions facing end of life or grief say “not so fast” about making resolutions and plans because quite honestly, 2016 brought them a cavalcade of loss. So for many, the thought of looking forward also means letting go of a past they aren’t ready to part from.

Therefore, what to do with the anxiety caused by a new year? To begin with, remember that all of life does not have to be on fast forward. The first week of the year is an opportunity to take a nice, deep breath before moving onward with vim
and vigor.

Second, understand that the opening week of the year offers a prime opportunity to practice the power of choice. Though you didn’t choose what happened to you, you can choose how you’ll try to proceed in the coming months. Will you surround yourself with positive people? Will you take care of your health to the best of your ability? You can choose how you wish to move forward and many find that making small improvements to their daily habits can create a ripple effect in terms of how one copes with his or her grief.

Remember, too, that the idea of making and sticking to resolutions can be overwhelming for many grieving people. Often, it’s easier to start with one basic question: “What would the person I lost want for me?” If you’re not sure, I offer up the following, based on 20 years of conversations with dying men, women and children:

They want all they love to truly LIVE as fully as possible because he or she can’t.

That’s it…Do your best and don’t waste a day. Remember, though it may feel like an impossible task due to the weight of your own grief, it is most likely what your loved one would want for you.

You can choose to LIVE ON.

What does that mean? Watch below as Olivia Newton-John, talks about the death of her sister, Rona, and their mother’s wisdom, all of which inspired her new song, Live On, featured in the video at the bottom.

“It’s okay to be sad,” she says, “but LIVE, because every moment is a gift for everybody.”

Can you choose to live on, embracing life as fully as possible in 2017?

Those you love and have lost might say it’s the one resolution worth working toward.

Healing Grief Through Choosing Love | Scarlett Lewis

Healing Grief Through Choosing Love | Scarlett Lewis

Sometimes there are no words that can help assuage grief. “I’m sorry for your loss” falls flat when a mourning mother is standing next to her young child’s open casket, framed with flowers and cards of sympathy. You might feel inadequate, your aching heart racing […]

Healing Grief through Transforming It | Kathy Eldon

Healing Grief through Transforming It | Kathy Eldon

Life can turn on a dime. Sometimes for the better, like when we get a new job or fall in love, but when tragedy strikes, things can go terribly wrong. My life swerved out of control when I heard that my 22-year-old son, together with […]

Transforming Loss Through the Grief Process | Rev. Ted Wiard

Transforming Loss Through the Grief Process | Rev. Ted Wiard

 Extract:

I had just met with a father whose deceased son’s birthday had been the day before. I knew synchronicity, my life path, passion and the arduous, amazing walk with losing a child myself, would connect us so that I could share the following message.

Transforming loss into healing is a difficult path, but healing is possible if someone chooses to consciously grieve, act, and honor their own grief process. Life will have the opportunity to seep back into a place that seemed so lonely and dark.  I know the excruciating anguish of loss as my own life story includes a window of time in which I experienced miscarriage, my brother’s death in a commercial fishing accident, my wife’s death from cancer, and then my six and nine-year-old daughters’ and mother-in-law’s deaths in a single car accident. The years between 1986 through 1996 were filled with a level of compounded and complicated grief that left me shattered and emotionally stripped with very little motivation to move forward in life.  With gratitude, I can honestly state that today, more than any other time in my life, I feel authentic, joyful, spiritually connected, self-realized, grateful and deeply passionate about healing from loss and living life to its fullest. I’m grateful for my life and yet, that does not mean that I don’t continuously grieve and honor my losses, especially the death of my children.  I am very aware that grief does not make everything “okay.” However, grief can change and transform into the fuel needed to drive one forward toward growth. The lyrics from the song, “There’s Still My Joy” capture the healing I feel inside myself each and every day.  I celebrate my daughters’ lives and they live on inside of me– like the sparkle on the snow as the first sunlight ricochets off that perfectly formed crystal. It warms my heart.

Today I am a minister, licensed psychotherapist, certified grief counselor, and licensed school teacher.  I’m also a person who still grieves, lives, and honors my life, as well as the lives of my loved ones who died before me.

While writing this article, I’m reflecting back to a time following the deaths of my daughters. If someone had said to me then, that I would find joy in any form, ever again, I would have scoffed in disbelief.  However, I’ve found I can indeed feel joy and pleasure as well as sadness and longing all at the same time.  This balance is my dance and I am grateful for all the shining lights that beam down upon my path helping to direct my next step. In fact, research backs up this possibility for all of us by sharing that certain coping behaviors can assist with the balancing of our past, present, and future lives.

Six themes have been identified that appear to positively impact the emotional healing from the loss of a child. These are: positive beliefs, faith beliefs, everlasting love, pleasant memories, social engagement and staying connected (Barker & Dunn, 2011).  Barker and Dunn (2011) focused their research on mothers whose children had died suddenly. They discovered a congruency within these themes pertaining to the mothers.

The following information expands on the six themes: (1) Positive Beliefs: People have a “need to connect” in order to share memories and to be around others. This gives a feeling of calm and peace, as does avoiding activities and people that have the potential for negativity.  (2) Faith Beliefs: This is a helpful level of connection to a God of their understanding – which allows a level of connection to their child, as well as with something bigger than them. (3) Everlasting Love: The fear that the love for the child may end decreases as love continues to grow for the child. This allows great relief as the relationship transforms but the love and relationship with the child is forever. (4) Pleasant Remembrances:  Having the opportunity to share pleasant memories and stories helps as a coping mechanism. It’s helpful to celebrate their lives and those pleasant experiences as they help nurture the heart. (5) Social Engagement: At some point there is a feeling to reach out in some way — to explore how their experience can be of benefit to someone new in the grief process.  There is also a need to stay in contact with the child’s friends and family, thus allowing a connection to the past and their child.  (6) Staying Connected:  Over time, parents will find a way to stay emotionally connected to their child. This can include special activities such honoring the child’s birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.  These types of activities provide present action and new experiences to happen, thus building upon the parental/child relationship throughout one’s life.

Barker and Dunn (2011) found two themes that were not productive. These are: (1) Avoidance: When people completely avoided the parent or avoided talking about the child. This felt hurtful.  (2) Rumination: Dwelling on the actual event in which there was death or anything negative pertaining to the death that did not serve the parent positively (Barker & Dunn, 2011). Grief allows for someone’s life to regain meaning. It does not always include a conclusive answer for the meaning of the death of a child. The question of “why me?” is one that arises approximately 80% of the time from people experiencing a traumatic situation.  This craving for understanding the “why” is natural and normal.  Not all people resolve the “why” of the death, but the transformation of one’s life to include meaning can be the larger focus in someone’s healing and growth (Davis, Wortman, Lehman, & Silver, 2000).  Consciously grieving and observing the healing process can allow for meaning, passion, and reason to grow. It helps to feel the emotions, thus manifesting a meaningful life.

In closing, it’s important to remember grief is a natural and normal healing process and through conscious actions, a person can claim themselves while no longer being confined and defined by his or her story.

References:

Barker, B., & Dunn, K. (2011). The continued lived experience of the unexpected death of a child. Omega-Journal of Death and Dying, 63(3), 221-233. Retrieved from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edswss&AN=000294731800002&site=eds-live&scope=site

Davis, C. G., Wortman, C. B., Lehman, D. R., & Silver, R. C. (2000). Searching for meaning in loss: Are clinical assumptions correct? Death Studies, 24(6), 497-540. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07481180050121471

Poteat, C., & Wiard, T. (2011). Witnessing Ted: The journey to potential through grief and loss. : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

By: Rev. Ted Wiard

Psychotherapist, Founder Golden Willow Retreat

www.goldenwillowtreat.com