Speaking from the Heart
As simple as 1-2-3
Throughout the years I have been incredibly blessed. Not only did I find The Compassionate Friends early on in my grief, but I also participated in an intense 12-week grief program created by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. I have also had the incredibly good fortune in my career to work with, study under and learn from many of the best and brightest minds on earth in the field of grief and loss.
When I am interviewed about grief, I have found that many reporters don’t have a lot of knowledge about the subject as they seek an answer to the question; “How do you survive the death of a child in your family?” I have learned that the best answer to this question is to make it seem as simple as 1-2-3. The concept of walking through grief is not as complex as most people might think; however, the task of carrying out this simple concept is the hardest work many of us will ever do.
- Find Support from Another Who Understand Your Loss – It is imperative to have support in whatever form is comfortable and works for you. For some it may be a group like The Compassionate Friends. For others it may be as simple as having a friend who has had a similar loss. Whether it is meeting in a group, talking one-on-one in person or on the phone or connecting through social media, staying connected to somebody who understands your grief journey will always keep you grounded to the fact that you are not crazy or doing something wrong; you are in grief.
- Educate Yourself About the Grieving Process – We live in a day and age where high-quality grief education materials are as close as the click of a mouse or the touch of a phone. Websites such as Open to Hope (opentohope.com) offer thousands of articles, webinars and archived radio and television programs pertaining to all types of loss and all these resources are free. There are other resources such as Centering Corporation offering the best books available to help those in grief understand the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual toll grief inflicts on us and how we can positively work to process our loss.
- Help – The saying “healing begins with helping” is so appropriate when it comes to our grief journey. I don’t know why helping is so effective, but it clearly makes a difference in the lives of those who reach out to others even when they are deep in grief. There are no small ways to help, but any act of kindness or generosity seems to instill in us a sense of purpose once again and restore in us a value that sometimes becomes diminished when our child, grandchild or sibling dies. Help for us though must be two sided; we must also know when to ask for help from others. There are people in our lives who want to help us but they simply don’t know what to say or do. It is up to us to tell them what we need and allow them the opportunity to lighten our load.As I said, a simple concept but the work means being proactive every day and reminding ourselves that with good support, a keen understanding of the grief process, and by reaching out to help others while allowing others to help us we can walk through even the darkest part of the valley of grief with hope that we will come out on the other side embracing the love that will always be in our hearts for those we love who have died. We will have a different life, but it can be a life filled with new friendships, love, memories, laughter and even joy.
Thanks for the honor of allowing me to serve as your Executive Director,
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