Articles

Jan 30, 2008

The Physical Nature Of Depression
Written by Zinn Jeremiah

Depression is categorized as a psychological disorder, and that’s a reasonable classification. Depression often manifests in a person’s thinking. A depressed person will have a different perspective, a generally more pessimistic perspective, when considering life circumstances than a non-depressed person will. Depression, however, doesn’t begin and end with a person’s thinking.
Interestingly enough, most of the symptoms of depression present in physical ways, not psychologically. Some of the more common symptoms of depression include excessive sleep patterns or sleeping too little, weight gain or weight loss, lack of energy, emotional outbreaks, and other symptoms as well. Considering this symptom list, being overly emotional is the only symptom that might be seen as mostly psychological in nature, but even that presents in a physical way through crying or hostility or whatever.

The labeling of depression as a psychological problem, a problem of the mind, equates it with mental instability or weakness in the minds of some. Men in particular seem to be especially sensitive to being labeled with some form of mental or emotional disorder. On its face this type of resistance may not seem overly problematic, but it can become quite a serious issue.

Resistance to even admitting to possibly being depressed is naturally going to lead to treatment resistance as well. Depression doesn’t always need to be treated, and can clear on its own in time. This may be especially true in the case of a one time meaningful loss, the end of a relationship for example, or a death. But bouts of depression that aren’t triggered by a significant incident, or depression brought on by a heavily traumatic event, can become chronic depression. Chronic depression most always needs intervention, and without intervention can lead to a person becoming severely distraught and even suicidal.

Emphasizing the physical nature of depression can diffuse the stigma of a depression suggestion or diagnosis. This may be the reason that depression is sometimes attributed to a chemical imbalance in the brain. While some clinicians don’t like this description, there’s significant evidence that the brains of depressives do have a different make up than the brains of people who aren’t depressed. In other words, the brain is changed when depression sets in. This knowledge is what has sparked the development of a host of depression treatment drugs over the last twenty years or so, each designed to “fix”, in its own way, the depressed brain.

So depression changes the brain, and could even be said to imbalance the brain. The alteration of one’s brain would seem to be the epitome a physical problem, so perhaps depression is more physical than psychological after all.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Jan 23, 2008

You Worry Me
Written by Captain John Maniscalco

I’ve been trying to say this since 9-11, but you worry me. I wish you didn’t. I wish when I walked down the streets of this country that I love, that your color and culture still blended with the beautiful human landscape we enjoy in this country. But you don’t blend in anymore. I notice you, and it worries me. I notice you, because I can’t help it anymore. People from your homelands, professing to be Muslims, have been attacking and killing my fellow citizens and our friends for more than 20 years now. I don’t fully understand their grievances and hate, but I know that nothing can justify the inhumanity of their attacks.

On September 11, nineteen Arab/Muslims hijacked four jetliners in my country. They cut the throats of women in front of children and brutally stabbed to death others. They took control of those planes and crashed them into buildings killing thousands of proud fathers, loving sons, wise grandparents, elegant daughters, best friends, favorite coaches, fearless public servants, and children’s mothers. The Palestinians celebrated, the Iraqis were overjoyed, as was most of the Arab world.

So I notice you now. I don’t want to be worried. I don’t want to be consumed by the same rage and hate and prejudice that has destroyed the soul of these terrorists. But I need your help. As a rational American, trying to protect my country and family in an irrational and unsafe world, I must know how to tell the difference between you, and the Arab/Muslim terrorist.

How do I differentiate between the true Arab/Muslim-Americans and the Arab/Muslims in our communities who are attending our schools, enjoying our parks, and living in our communities under the protection of our constitution, while they plot the next attack that will slaughter these same good neighbors and children? The events of September 11th changed the answer. It is not my responsibility to determine which of you embraces our great country, with all of its religions, with all of its different citizens, with all of its faults. It is time for every Arab/Muslim in this country to determine it for me.

I want to know, I demand to know, and I have a right to know whether or not you love America. Do you pledge allegiance to its flag? Do you proudly display it in front of your house, or on your car? Do you pray in your many daily prayers that Allah will bless this nation, that He will protect and prosper it? Or do you pray that Allah will destroy it in one of your Jihads? Are you thankful for the freedom that only this nation affords? A freedom that was paid for by the blood of hundreds of thousands of patriots who gave their lives for this country? Are you willing to preserve this freedom by paying the ultimate sacrifice? Do you love America? If this is your commitment, then I need you to start letting me know about it.

Your Muslim leaders in this nation should be flooding the media at this time with hard facts on your faith, and what hard actions you are taking as a community and as a religion to protect the United States of America. Please, no more benign overtures of regret for the death of the innocent because I worry about who you regard as innocent. No more benign overtures of condemnation for the unprovoked attacks, because I worry about what is unprovoked to you. I am not interested in any more sympathy… I am only interested in action. What will you do for America—our great country—at this time of crisis, at this time of war?

I want to see Arab/Muslims waving the American flag in the streets. I want to hear you chanting “Allah Bless America…” I want to see young Arab/Muslim men enlisting in the military. I want to see a commitment of money, time and emotion to the victims of this butchering and to this nation as a whole The FBI has a list of over 400 people they want to talk to regarding the WTC attack. Many of these people live and socialize in Muslim communities. You know them. You know where they are.

Hand them over to us, now! But I have seen little even approaching this sort of action. Instead I have seen an already closed and secretive community close even tighter. You have disappeared from the streets. You have posted armed security guards at your facilities. You have threatened lawsuits. You have screamed for protection from reprisals.

The very few Arab/Muslim representatives that have appeared in the media were defensive and equivocating. They seemed more concerned with making sure that the United States proves who was responsible before taking action. They seemed more concerned with protecting their fellow Muslims from violence directed towards them in the United States and abroad than they did with supporting our country and denouncing leaders like Khadafi, Hussein, Farrakhan and Arafat. If the true teachings of Islam proclaim tolerance and peace and love for all people, then I want chapter and verse from the Koran and statements from popular Muslim leaders to back it up. What good is it if the teachings in the Koran are good and pure and true when your leaders are teaching fanatical interpretations, terrorism and intolerance?

It matters little how good Islam should be if large numbers of the world’s Muslims interpret the teachings of Mohammed incorrectly and adhere to a degenerative form of the religion. A form that has been demonstrated to us over and over again. A form whose structure is built upon a foundation of violence, death and suicide. A form whose members are recruited from the prisons around the world. A form whose members (some as young as five years old) are seen day after day, week in and week out, year after year, marching in the streets around the world, burning effigies of our presidents, burning the American flag, shooting weapons into the air. A form whose members convert from a peaceful religion, only to take up arms against the great United States of America, the country of their birth. A form whose rules are so twisted, that their traveling members refuse to show their faces at airport security checkpoints, in the name of Islam.

Do you and your fellow Muslims hate us because our women proudly show their faces in public rather than cover up like a shameful whore? Do you and your fellow Muslims hate us because we drink wine with dinner, or celebrate Christmas? Do you and you fellow Muslims hate us because we have befriended Israel, the only civilized democratic nation in the entire Middle East?

And, if you and your fellow Muslims hate us, then why in the world are you even here? Are you here to take our money? Are you here to undermine our peace and stability? Are you here to destroy us? If so, I want you to leave. I want you to go back to your desert sandpit where women are treated like rats and dogs. I want you to take your religion, your friends and your family back to your Islamic extremists, and stay there! We will never give in to your influence, your retarded mentality, your twisted, violent, intolerant religion. We will never allow the attacks of September 11th, or any others for that matter, to take away that which is so precious to us: Our rights under the greatest constitution in the world. I want to know where every Arab/Muslim in this country stands, and I think it is my right and the right of every true citizen of this country to demand it. A right paid for by the blood of thousands of my brothers and sisters who died protecting the very constitution that is protecting you and your family. I am pleading with you to let me know. I want you here as my brother, my neighbor, my friend, as a fellow American. But there can be no gray areas or ambivalence regarding your allegiance, and it is up to you to show me where you stand.

Until then… you worry me.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Jan 16, 2008

Living Through Loss
Written by Margot B.

Usually words can’t comfort the grieving. Just being there in silence or listening is comforting.

Nothing can change what has happened but being with the bereaved is the best we can do. The bereaved need companions who will truly listen and perhaps do some of the small, everyday things that need doing—mowing the lawn, changing the oil in the car, preparing a meal—any number of things.

Grieving is normal and unavoidable—it is a part of life, and it takes time. We don’t get over it; we get through it. Going through grief is a series of stages: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance, which is the first step. You must come to terms with your loss and accept that it is real and permanent.

The stages of grief are not necessarily in this order, but it usually takes one or two years, or sometimes 4, 5 or more years for a person to work through the loss of a child or spouse, as well as a divorce.

The loss of a job, home, health, all require a significant amount of time to work through. There is no time frame. We can’t control the process and this makes us feel vulnerable and sensitive to outside stimuli.

It needs to takes its natural course because if we try to deny our grief and keep our emotions bottled up inside, this can lead to chronic depression or physical illness. Recent research indicates that some kind of ceremonial farewell is helpful in aiding the bereaved to adjust to the death of someone close. We must acknowledge publicly and formally that something significant has happened or we may find more difficulty in the grieving process.

During the grieving process, it’s normal to cry, lose your appetite, and withdraw socially. Eventually instead of living moment-to-moment with our deep feeling of sadness, we will experience these feelings intermittently.

Then we can think about getting back to work, resuming our social life, doing our routine daily tasks again, such as cleaning house, paying the bills, caring for the children—even if we sometimes have to ask for help from a friend or relative.

It’s a good idea to keep a journal of one’s thoughts and feelings, or write letters to the one who has died, or write a story of your memories, or write poetry. Grief can be expressed through painting or sculpture, or by participating in whatever you are proficient in doing. Perhaps sewing or woodworking; perhaps starting a project that will help others.

Spend time outdoors in a park or at the seashore. Being in touch with nature can be both healing and restorative.

It’s important to retain our friendships because feelings of alienation and abandonment are part of the grieving process. The best method of fighting these feelings is to look for others to console.

The person who has gone through the loss of a loved one is uniquely qualified and best able to understand others going through the same pain. Spending time with people who have undergone a similar loss can be very therapeutic. You discover how natural your emotions are that you go through during the grieving process. You can receive moral support and learn from the experiences and the ideas of others.

Support groups are not for everyone but many people swear by them. Taking care of your health is an important part of getting through your loss. Some physical problems, such as insomnia, loss of appetite, muscle tenseness, are to be expected.

Avoid becoming overly tired, get enough rest and sleep, eat nutritious meals, find support, hope and comfort from something you have faith in or are interested in, and life will be better.

Avoid making major decisions and changes in your life, as routine and familiarity with your surroundings give you a feeling of stability and permanence when you feel in chaos.

The scriptures state: A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. The time of weeping and mourning will be over. When we are able to form new relationships, perhaps love again, we are on the road to recovery.

You can pick up the pieces and go on, the wound heals but the scar remains.

Copyright © 2001 Margot B. All rights reserved.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Jan 9, 2008

The Burden
Written by Abraham Makofsky

His chest began to heave, and he felt that at any moment he would be unable to contain an outburst of heavy sobbing. Henry walked away from the grave site as the coffin was lowered. No one followed him, not even Betty, who stood at the side of the grave, their two children on either side of her.

He did not go far, and he turned his back on the mourners. They probably all think I’m crying because she’s dead, but it’s not that. I can’t stand the guilt. Momma, will you ever forgive me? And Ruth probably pities me, or hates me. It was an awful thing I did!

He recalled the scene that had haunted his life the last three years. Except for his mother, they were all in the living room. Henry was seated, head down, wracked with shame for what was being said.

“You can’t leave her with us. You know your brother; he’s a worrier and gets depressed,” Betty shouted angrily at Ruth. “When he’s that way, I have to take care of him and the children, just everything. Besides, she’s your mother. She’s your responsibility. What kind of daughter are you?”

Aaron rose from his chair. “Ruth,” he said, “please tell your sister-in-law that we will take your mother with us when we leave for home tomorrow. If Betty finds it too hard for Mother to stay here another night, we’ll wake her up, pack her things, and take her to the hotel with us.”

“Stop it,” Henry cried out and turned to his sister. “Ruth, you understand, don’t you? Mom needs a lot of help, and I can’t do what she needs. You can’t expect Betty to be like a daughter…” His voice trailed off in a whining appeal.

Henry remembered his mother’s reaction when he told her that she would be going to live with Ruth in Richmond. “I won’t know anyone there,” she said sadly. “All my friends are here.”

“You’ll make new friends,” he replied. “Ruth really wants you to live with her.”

“I know, I know. You get old and nobody wants you. But your daughter has to take you…”

Aaron and Ruth came early the next day. Ruth went in to wake up her mother and help her dress. Betty did not appear. Henry prepared his mother’s breakfast and invited the others to join her, but they declined. The atmosphere was strained; no one spoke. When they were ready to go, Henry hugged his mother tenderly. He had tears in his eyes. Ruth put her arms around him, and that comforted him. Aaron took the mother’s bags, and walked out of the house. The others soon followed…

When they arrived home from the cemetery, friends and relatives with Ruth and Aaron among them, were crowded into the living room. There was a quiet buzz of conversation as mourners partook of the liberal array of food and drink. Henry waved away well-wishers, poured himself a drink, and walked into his bedroom, shutting the door behind him.

It’s like we’re having a party because we don’t have to think about her anymore. But isn’t that what I did when I forced her out of my house? And that miserable time when I refused to let her come back?

Two years had passed since Momma went to Richmond. In that time, he made several trips to see her, often with the children, but Betty never accompanied them. Ruth and his mother always greeted him warmly; Aaron was a little more distant. Henry was visiting alone this last time, and Ruth wanted to talk with him.

“Mom is getting feeble and forgetful. We have to put her in a nursing home if we want to go away for a trip. The point is that she ought to be in a place where she can get constant care.

“Aaron and I talked about it, and we feel she ought to be in a retirement place. Mom doesn’t mind. She would rather be in a care home in New York, because her friends are there. I called a home, and she will need to go through tests and interviews that will take about a week. So—can she stay with you for a week until she is admitted?”

I should have said yes and settled it right there. I didn’t. I told her that it was probably all right, but I needed to talk with Betty.

When he returned home, Betty raged at him. “Can’t you see that they want to saddle us with her again? Probably the home won’t admit her, and she’ll have to stay here!”

He delayed calling Ruth for several days, and then he got a call from Aaron. “I’m sorry,” Henry said. “We can’t take her. I haven’t been well, and we don’t have any room in the house for her right now…” Aaron hung up without another word.

He knew that it was a poor excuse. Ruth and Aaron would not believe that there was no room for his mother to stay for a week, but Ruth would never question that he did not feel well enough to care for his mother. Throughout his childhood, his father had called his spells of depression a curse, a stain on the family’s reputation among their relatives. Momma was different. While he was young, she hovered over him whenever his mind lapsed into dull emptiness.

Betty has to bear the brunt of the hard decisions. Then I take my frustrations out on the children, because I’m so weak and useless.

Henry returned to work willingly after his week of mourning. His job was the one source of comfort in the frightening mound of tasks that confronted him each day. He had started working for the utility company when he decided not to go back to college after his first year. His parents did not care about college and were happy he had a job. Only Ruth expressed her chagrin.

“You’ll be stuck at some low-level white collar job. It will soon be boring, and you will never make much money. Try to finish college, please.”

But he was not persuaded. Schoolwork was too challenging; taking tests and writing papers worried him. So he stayed with the company, and Ruth was wrong about the work becoming boring. He liked being in customer service. Even better, he got promotions and salary raises. After twenty years with the company, he felt that this had been the wisest decision of his life.

Soon after his return, upsetting rumors spread among employees. Radical changes were in prospect. Mergers and impending layoffs that could include long-time staff might take place in the near future. Betty tried to dispel his anxiety.

“Why should they fire you? You’re a dependable worker and you’re good at what you do. But even if you lose your job, you’ll get severance pay and unemployment insurance. You can have a vacation for awhile and then look for another job. Anyhow, we don’t have to worry about money. My school will never be merged, I get a good salary—please, don’t worry.”

The merger was in the cards, and so were the layoffs. When the first round of cutbacks did not include him, he felt that divine power had intervened to save him. A few weeks later, the second listing of unlucky ones smashed his hope that he was under special protection.

Betty sensed that his world would soon fall apart.

“It’s happening to a lot of people, and some of them have worked there even longer than you. The severance bonus is generous, and they offer to help you find another job. Please, Henry, keep your spirits up.”

It was more than he could handle. Betty had to plead with him to go to his office in the two weeks he was given to finish his tasks. When that was over, he sat in the house unshaven, sometimes wearing his pajamas all day.

I’m just a loser. My family goes through hell because I drag everyone down with me. Poor Betty tries to pound sense into me. But I can’t. I’m finished…

His son and daughter came so see him, almost every night for a week. The family doctor made a house call. He prescribed pills, but told Betty she had to consider putting him into a mental hospital.

In desperation, Betty called his sister and begged her to visit and talk with her brother. Ruth came alone and sat with Henry several days, in turn pleading and lecturing him. When she left, her final advice was to have the doctor sign the papers for commitment to a hospital.

Betty stayed home from work that day. She sat with him in the living room in the morning, and speaking through her tears, she told him that she had to send him to a hospital.

“Forgive me. I love you, and your children love you. But we can’t stand by and watch you destroy yourself. That’s what you’re doing.”

He wanted to comfort her, but he could not reach out. He felt an overwhelming emptiness within him, and he was tired. That evening, while she busied herself in the kitchen preparing dinner, he walked quietly to the cellar door and descended the steps.

Betty, absorbed by misgivings about putting her husband in a hospital, was startled by the sound of a falling object. She was bewildered for a moment, but in a penetrating flash, she grasped the direction and meaning of the sound. She screamed aloud and rushed to the cellar.

Henry’s body was swinging from the rafters, a rope around his neck. Her first impulse was to support the body, but the thought then struck that he did not want to go to a hospital. He had made his choice about the way he could relieve his pain. She left the body as she found it, walked up the stairs and telephoned for help.

Copyright © 2001 by Abraham Makofsky. All rights reserved.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Jan 2, 2008

Son Of Breast Cancer Victim Vows To Help Mom
Written by Michael Keenan

As you reflect on your life, what are the things you are most proud of? As I thought about this question myself, I would have to say that the years my wife and I spent raising our two children. Raising two good human beings who are now wonderful adults making their way in the world is the one accomplishment I’m most proud of. Both of our children are honest, hardworking and they care.

I know that if I died today my children and my wife would shed tears of sadness and sorrow at my funeral.

Barbara Keenan has been suffering from breast cancer for 16 years. She has had a difficult and painful battle with the disease, and that battle has had a profound effect on her son. Michael Keenan has vowed to help his mother, and others, by trying to do something about cancer. To forward that goal, he has recently founded the Barbara Keenan Foundation for cancer research.

The Barbara Keenan Foundation is a small non-profit group completely dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. The foundation sponsors fundraising events and donates 100 percent of its profits to noted, cutting edge cancer research facilities dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. No one at the foundation draws a salary. All time is donated by the five board members, including Michael and the foundation’s research director Dr. Daniel DePrince.

The foundation’s latest fundraising effort is the sale of a calendar featuring naturally beautiful women in exotic locales posing in swimsuits. The calendar is called “True Beauty,” and is definitely not a run of the mill swimsuit calendar. It has been created using only volunteer models and photographers, and focuses on inner beauty as well as outward. Each photograph is accompanied by motivational ideas from the women involved. According to Michael, “my mother is a very beautiful woman, not only physically but spiritually, and I wanted to honor her with something that, was entertaining to look at and also went a little deeper into the positive philosophies of life.”

No one who worked on the True Beauty calendar was paid, and absolutely all proceeds will go to cancer research. As an added incentive, all purchasers of the calendar will be entered in a drawing to win an all expense paid trip to Jamaica for two.

May the sun always shine upon you,

Michael Keenan, Voorhees, NJ

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Dec 26, 2007

Who’s Going To Cry At Your Funeral?
Written by Steve Pilkington

As you reflect on your life, what are the things you are most proud of? As I thought about this question myself, I would have to say that the years my wife and I spent raising our two children. Raising two good human beings who are now wonderful adults making their way in the world is the one accomplishment I’m most proud of. Both of our children are honest, hardworking and they care.

I know that if I died today my children and my wife would shed tears of sadness and sorrow at my funeral.

The question I want to ask you is: “Who will mourn for you?” Who, in your life, is so important to you that they will cry at your funeral? Who will miss you when you are gone? Have you ever thought about that? If you haven’t, maybe it’s time you did.

Those people who will miss you when you are gone should be the most important people in your life. There should be nothing more important, in your life, than the people who will cry at your funeral.

I once knew a man who was a grocer. He started a small grocery business and built it into 3 mega size grocery stores. He was a workaholic. He and his wife raised two fine sons. He became wealthy and had the very best of everything. At age 69 he decided to retire and finally begin to “enjoy life.” He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly about 2 weeks before his scheduled retirement. I knew this man fairly well and his family had tried to persuade him to retire for years, but he wouldn’t. They’ve shed many tears of sorrow and grief.

Here’s an idea: Begin today to prioritize your life around those people who will be crying at your funeral. Don’t put it off. Start now because now is all you have.

About the author: Steve Pilkington, Personal Development Coach. You can subscribe to his FREE ezine Create The Life You Are Meant To Live which features original articles, tips and information all geared toward helping your live your best and most productive life.

Copyright © 2003 Steve Pilkington. All rights reserved.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Dec 19, 2007

The Physical Nature of Depression
Written by Zimm Jeremiah

Depression is categorized as a psychological disorder, and that’s a reasonable classification. Depression often manifests in a person’s thinking. A depressed person will have a different perspective, a generally more pessimistic perspective, when considering life circumstances than a non-depressed person will. Depression, however, doesn’t begin and end with a person’s thinking.

Interestingly enough, most of the symptoms of depression present in physical ways, not psychologically. Some of the more common symptoms of depression include excessive sleep patterns or sleeping too little, weight gain or weight loss, lack of energy, emotional outbreaks, and other symptoms as well. Considering this symptom list, being overly emotional is the only symptom that might be seen as mostly psychological in nature, but even that presents in a physical way through crying or hostility or whatever.

The labeling of depression as a psychological problem, a problem of the mind, equates it with mental instability or weakness in the minds of some. Men in particular seem to be especially sensitive to being labeled with some form of mental or emotional disorder. On its face this type of resistance may not seem overly problematic, but it can become quite a serious issue.

Resistance to even admitting to possibly being depressed is naturally going to lead to treatment resistance as well. Depression doesn’t always need to be treated, and can clear on its own in time. This may be especially true in the case of a one time meaningful loss, the end of a relationship for example, or a death. But bouts of depression that aren’t triggered by a significant incident, or depression brought on by a heavily traumatic event, can become chronic depression. Chronic depression most always needs intervention, and without intervention can lead to a person becoming severely distraught and even suicidal.

Emphasizing the physical nature of depression can diffuse the stigma of a depression suggestion or diagnosis. This may be the reason that depression is sometimes attributed to a chemical imbalance in the brain. While some clinicians don’t like this description, there’s significant evidence that the brains of depressives do have a different make up than the brains of people who aren’t depressed. In other words, the brain is changed when depression sets in. This knowledge is what has sparked the development of a host of depression treatment drugs over the last twenty years or so, each designed to “fix”, in its own way, the depressed brain.

So depression changes the brain, and could even be said to imbalance the brain. The alteration of one’s brain would seem to be the epitome a physical problem, so perhaps depression is more physical than psychological after all.

About the author: Zinn Jeremiah is an online author.

Copyright © Zinn Jeremiah. All rights reserved.
Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Dec 12, 2007

When Someone Grieves
Written by Steve Goodier

We either have been, or will be, put in the position of comforting someone who is grieving. That is an important role played by good friends. The most common question I hear on such occasions is, “What should I say?” We want to help, but we feel helpless to make a difference in the face of such tragedy.

I often remember a story told by Joseph Bayly when I struggle to say the “right thing” to someone who is hurting. Mr. Bayly lost three children to death over the course of several years. He wrote a book called View From A Hearse, (Life-Journey Books, 1992) in which he
talks about his grief. He says this about comforting those who grieve:

“I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he would go away. He finally did. Someone else came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat with me for an hour or more,
listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”

I have found Joseph Bayly’s experience to be excruciatingly typical. Both men wanted to help. Both men cared. But only one truly comforted. The difference was that one tried to make him feel better, while the other just let him feel. One tried to say the right things. The other listened. One told him it would be all right. The other shared his pain.

When put in the difficult position of comforting someone in emotional pain, sometimes what needs to be said can be said best with a soft touch or a listening ear. It may not seem like much, but it can be more effective than you may ever know

About the author: Steve Goodier http://lifesupportsystem.com is a professional
speaker, consultant and author of numerous books.

Copyright © Steve Goodier. All rights reserved.
Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Dec 5, 2007

Blessing Book
Written by Dionna Sanchez

There are many ideas for passing down legacies and making memories. I think a blessing book is one of the most positive and encouraging things you can do – not only for yourself, but for your children.

When you keep a blessing book for yourself, it is up to you how often you want to write in it. You can do it nightly, monthly or whenever you find the time. I would encourage you to write dates in there as well. Write down things that you are thankful for and things that make you happy. It’s okay if you end up repeating things along the line. If your children are old enough, encourage them to keep a blessing book too. They can do it with you, on their own, or you can even make it a chore for them once in awhile so they get in the habit of writing. I bet they will realize after time, how much they really have to be thankful for.

If your children aren’t interested in keeping a blessing book, you can still treasure yours and pass it down to them when they are parents themselves. I think at that point, they will find the entries give them precious memories and lessons as well.

About the author: Visit Dionna’s website at EmphasisOnMoms.com
Copyright © Dionna Sanchez. All rights reserved.
Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Nov. 28, 2007

My Father’s Daughter
Written by Joanne Glasspoole

Although I knew my dad wouldn’t live forever… I never thought he would die. It was the beginning of December, and I was excited about Christmas coming. It was also nearing the end of the millennium, and everyone—especially my father—was excited for the year 2000. I had seen my parents the week before on Thanksgiving. My father was quiet that day. We were sitting in the living room, and I remember my dad sitting in his chair listening to us talk. Usually he was the one talking and us listening, so I found it a bit strange that he was so quiet, but it wasn’t cause for concern.

That afternoon, we shared a father-daughter gaze that I can’t explain. I remember feeling overcome with love, and I felt my father’s respect. His respect was something I constantly sought, and I always tried to please him. When we gazed into each other’s eyes that day, I felt a connection with him that was strong, special. It was spiritual. Around 5 o’clock, my husband and I decided to go home. I hugged my mother, and then I walked over to where my father sat at the kitchen table and bent to kiss his forehead. My father reached out to touch my arm, which is something he never did. I noticed.

I couldn’t have known one week later he’d be dead…I believe my father knew he was dying. About three weeks before that day, he had called my eldest brother, Herman, to discuss his final arrangements. And the day before he died, he commented to my mother that he was ready to die. The next day, our lives changed forever…My life without my father has been hard. I always looked forward to seeing him on weekends. And talking to him on the phone. Now I don’t have that anymore, and I miss it. I miss my father’s voice. I miss taking for granted that he’d always be there when I needed him. I miss being my father’s daughter. I often imagine where he is and what he’s doing. I don’t think of my dad as “asleep” but instead playing cards with his friends, shooting the breeze, laughing. My father was lonely the last six months of his life. He commented to my mother that all of his friends had died. Now, ironically, he’s with them again.

I wonder if he ever thinks about us. Does he know how much he’s missed? Does he know how much he’s still loved? Does he know how much I yearn to see him again? My dad was a very important person in my life, and he still influences me in his death. I am grateful for all of the things he did for me. I know now how right he was even when I thought I knew everything. Yes, the day my father died was a momentous event. His absence will always leave an empty hole in my heart. I am not the same person I was before. In many ways, I’m a better person. I’m stronger. And I don’t take things for granted anymore because there are no promises for tomorrow.

Copyright © Joanne Glasspoole. All rights reserved.
Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Nov. 21, 2007 Music:

Helping those that Grieve
Written by Tony Falzano

There’s an old saying that time will heal all wounds. For those suffering the loss of a loved one, pet or even a relationship like a divorce, time will eventually ease the grief. It will allow life to be bearable and enjoyable again. Time is a major component in the healing process. But what does a person do with the pain and emptiness in the weeks and months immediately ahead? How does an individual cope with today? One way is to stay connected to family and friends. Therapists, clergy and medical professionals believe one of the best things we can do while grieving a loss is to have contact with loving, supportive people who will keep us active and provide company.

Besides time and companionship, music can act as a healing agent. Though sometimes overlooked, music can be a powerful ingredient to everyday good health. It can do more than entertain and help sell products and services. Medical research has proven that music can reduce muscle tension and anxiety, boost the immune system and regulate the individual’s heartbeat and pulse. Music is also known to reduce stress levels and ease depression. These are symptoms that can accompany grief. Sometimes the bereaved may not have many friends. Family members may live far away. And there are times when the grieving individual either wants to, or has to, be alone. This is a perfect time for music to be a companion. Similar to a friend who visits, music provides company the moment it is heard. While it plays, we can do what we want. We can talk to it, cry with it and even shout at it if it makes us feel better. I’m not suggesting music take the place of human interaction, but it can be a beneficial alternative. In many ways it can do everything a companion can do except bring you a glass of water.

Music specifically designed to relieve tension and bring stability to the mind and body is the most beneficial. Soft, soothing music is conducive for an atmosphere that will foster healing. I am one of those composers who create music to make people feel calm, centered and relaxed. My CD, In Aba’s Arms, is instrumental music to nurture and comfort the bereaved while they search for healing and hope. My music, along with other committed and talented artists, is designed to help restore you to good health. There are ways to extract the healing benefits of music that will keep us company and our minds active when alone. One way is to sit in a comfortable chair and start listening to the music; I mean, really listen to the music. Soak in the musical emotions. Focus on the melody as it rises and falls. Identify the instrument(s) that are playing. Or hum along with the song. If we center our attention on the music, we’ll temporarily get away from the things troubling our minds.

Another way is to let the mind wander while the music plays. Envision sitting on a shore looking at the ocean or walking a path through a forest. See, hear and feel the beauty in these quiet locations. Try recalling meaningful moments with the loved one in the presence of music. Many people have used this approach to work through grief. Music can also inspire. Identify a song that is inspirational. When the music reaches the motivating part in the piece, recite a goal out loud. For those going through the healing process, recite the words that hospice nurse, Deborah Sigrid encourages her patients to repeat; “It’s normal for me to be abnormal for a while, but I won’t be like this forever.” This allows one to accept themselves now while looking forward to the future. Re-enforcing intentions with music can be the first step to find the courage needed to succeed. Emotions will rise when listening to music. What usually follows is crying, even sobbing. This should be welcomed. It’s therapeutic to cry. It’s one of the best things we can do. We release hormones, stress and toxins when we release tears.

Finally, listening to music before bed will alter our mood and relax us so we can fall asleep. If you are grieving a loss or know someone who is, I hope you’ll remember the power of music. It is truly a wonderful friend that helps you feel and heal, better. Music is non-judgmental and never asks too much of you. Music states the obvious when words are difficult to speak. You don’t have to entertain it, and its feelings aren’t hurt when you tune it out or shut it off. Music is available anytime to act as a reliable companion. And this friend is only your CD collection away.What should you keep in mind when choosing music to help you heal? Whether you like to listen to one instrument, like piano or 2 instruments such as a flute and harp or the whole orchestra, here are a few suggestions to guide you.

  • Many people choose instrumental music. It is simpler to listen to in these situations. Non-lyrical pieces leave more to the individual’s imagination.
  • Music that is slower and between 60-80 beats per minute is the best choice when using it to calm and heal. The average person’s heart rate is between 70-90 beats per minute. Music billed as ambient, spiritual or celestial will usually be at “heart-level” or below.
  • Consider purchasing music that you are unfamiliar with. It won’t connect you to the time spent with your loved one. Years from now, you’ll remember it as the CD that helped you through this difficult time.
  • Music using a minimal amount of rhythm and percussion is beneficial. You want something that is “beat less” and feels smooth, which will be soothing. ” Read the notes on the CD to see if its contents interest you.

Copyright © 2007 by Tony Alamo

The author: Tony Falzano is an award winning songwriter who has released his new CD, In Abba’s Arms. It contains 12 original instrumentals designed to be an “inspirational companion” that brings comfort to the bereaved needing healing and hope. The CD is also used by many to enhance quiet contemplation.In Abba’s Arms is available at http://www.cdbaby.com/Falzano and through the Centering Corporation, at 1.866.218.0101. This is a non-profit organization providing education and resources for the bereaved.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Nov. 14, 2007

Hearing Diagnosis of a Chronic Illness
Written by Jeannette E. de Langis

Often times when someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness it changes their entire life. What has happened from one day to the next? What happened between yesterday and today when you received the dreaded news? The label you were given changes everything. Why does that label have so much power? You were experiencing a lot of symptoms and seem to manage from day to day, but when you receive a label, that all seems to change. Researching the illness opens up a lot of understanding of things you have gone through, but it also opens up a pattern of thinking that fits you into that “box” of the illness. You look at all of the prognosis information and suddenly feel very powerless.The only thing that has happened since yesterday is you were given a label. Now your thinking dooms you to the fate of the label you were given. What if that “label” was wrong? How do you think you would progress. It is imprinted in your mind that you have this illness. It makes sense since you have had some strange symptoms and this label seems to fit. This information and knowing changes how you see yourself. All of a sudden you are not someone with a few aches and pains and unexplained symptoms but now you are in a category and have a label.

It is so important not to give up your power to any diagnoses. Everyone is unique. Everyone reacts differently to a disease or chronic illness. It does’t mean that you are doomed to the fate that others have with this disease. None of us have any guarantees in this life. We could be taken out on the freeway in an instant. It is the quality of your life that is important. If you died today, would you have regrets? Could you say I have lived a full life? I had a patient once who had very bad heart disease. His father died of it at 54, and he was turning 54. He went from his bed to the balcony to the living area of his home and was virtually waiting to die at the age of 54 like his father did. He did this for over two years. His fear crippled him. His “label” crippled him. Yes, he did have very bad heart disease, but what about living? He forgot to live his life and sat around waiting to die.

Do not give up your power to any diagnoses. Yes, it is important to get care and research ways to minimize the effects of the illness, but do not forget to live your life. Do not give the disease your power. We all have our own unique healing abilities. We chose illness to help us learn about ourselves. It is meant to take you on a path of self-discovery. Do not give up your power to it. It is simply a tool to discover who you truly are in the scheme of things.

About the author: Jeannette E. de Langis RN, CSL has taught meditation and self-awareness for over 20 years. She has taught at-risk teens and those with chronic illness to release fear and take control of their pain and lives. For more info:www.innerconcepts.net

Copyright © 2001 by Jeannette E. de Langis. All rights reserved.
Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Nov. 7, 2007

How Do You Explain Death To A Child?
Written by Linda Thompson-Penny

“Grandma how come I don’t see great-grandpa no more? Is he up there,” she asked pointing to the sky? Surprised at how quickly the tears wanted to well up, I fought the urge before answering, “Yes, he’s in heaven.” You see, it will be exactly one year December 2001 that my dad passed, and she, as a four-year-old at the time, remembers her great-grandpa. My dad lived with me for three years during the early days of his sickness, and she remembers pushing and riding with him in his wheelchair throughout the house. So how do you explain death to a child?“Why did he leave?”“Jesus wanted him to come home.”“But why?”“Well, I think great grandma missed him too, and it was her turn.”“Oh.”Will those answers suffice a five-year-old as she thinks on these things? Great grandpa went to sleep, but what about those people she saw where the airplane destroyed the buildings they were working in?

She watched the TV accounts of the terror and tragedy September 11th and immediately asked her mom, “Why did they do that? Why did they hurt those people?”All she could say was, “I don’t know.”“Oh.”But if adults are having nightmares, anxiety attacks and other signs of trauma, what are the children thinking? It was like watching a movie—except this was real.“Those were bad people, honey, who just wanted to cause problems.”“Oh.”“You know what, honey, all those people who got hurt, let’s pray for them and their families.”“Okay.”It’s times like these you don’t really have an answer as you sit with your own mouth open wondering why. The bible says these are signs, but the time is not yet. “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet” Mark 13:7 NKJV.

I really didn’t think, including others of us who are professing Christians (that have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and acknowledge him as the Son of the living God), that we would be here to see such devastation. It never occurred to me that I would witness first hand the tragedy and troubles that are still to come. It’s frightening and yet exciting, because as a child of God, I’m ready for whatever does come, yet my heart still skips a beat as we all watch and wonder what next and when.“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Corinthians 15:52 KJV. So we know what the scripture tells us that Christ’s return will be in the twinkling of an eye; today’s events make this scripture even more real.All the philosophizing in the world cannot prepare an individual for reality. We can guess and give our educated opinion, but when it comes down to the bottom line and you are face to face with actual terrorism and devastation, what then? How can you explain the thousands of people who lost their lives without a warning? How many were ready?

My daughter called me later, “Mom guess what? She just drew a picture of a rainbow and under the rainbow she drew a picture of great-grandpa and great-grandma and told me that since she couldn’t see them anymore, she would just draw where they live.”Simple, yet it worked for her. She accepted the fact that Jesus took them home. Now will that work for you and I and the thousands of others? If we draw a picture of heaven with a long line of people waiting to get their ticket stamped to enter, will that help?About the author: Linda Thompson-Penny wears several different hats: Pastor’s wife, business woman, entrepreneur, grandmother and author. She just recently published her first Christian Mystery, and intends to spend the rest of her free time writing, from fiction to inspirational articles, to help build and promote the spiritual and inner well being of as many people she can.

Copyright © 2001 by Linda Thompson-Penny. All rights reserved.
Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Oct. 31, 2007

How to Reinvest in Life after the Death of a Loved One
Written by Louis LaGrand, Ph.D.

Death often appears to wreck the lives of survivors. Many people feel they have a gaping hole in their body and mind. With the loved one gone, life takes on some drastic changes, and demands that the survivor start new routines without the support and companionship of the beloved. At times, it seems like hell on earth.

So what do mourners seem to accomplish that helps them accept their great losses and begin the long journey of adapting to a new life? How do they adjust to the unfamiliar and begin to find joy once again? Here is what many have done to move through, not around, their grief.

  • At some point, they chose to commit to the following approach: “I am adjusting to the new. I am going to get through this.” Intention is an extremely powerful force. Make every effort to begin each day with a commitment to meet your sadness head on and embrace it as a natural response because you have loved. Put something on your night stand (object, symbol, whatever is meaningful to you) as a reminder when you get up in the morning to form the intention and tell yourself, “I am persisting. I will outlast this.”
  • Work on your inner life. All grief resolution begins with what you say to yourself day after day, week after week. This means you have to be your own best friend and treat yourself as you would a best friend. Come to the realization that what you continue to think about grows. As you keep focusing on pain it often gets worse, depression comes and deepens. Learn a technique to allow yourself to switch your attention away from pain and towards a loving memory. Everyone needs a break from grief. Keep talking positively to yourself.
  • Make the decision that you will talk to at least three people every day. Human interaction, with the right people, and at the right time will go a long way toward balancing your sadness and providing a needed outlet for your feelings. On the other hand, isolation from others will lengthen the acute pain phase of grief. Never stay by yourself for long periods of time. Yes, you need solitude, but not self-imposed isolation.
  • Come to the conclusion that there are two options open to you when a loved one dies: to live in abject sorrow for the rest of your life (which will paralyze you for the rest of your life) or to accept what cannot be changed, search for meaning in the death, and find new purpose in life. Obviously, this process of awareness cannot take place right away. Much time is needed to assimilate the pain. More time is needed to become familiar with a world that has drastically changed, and to realize that death and struggle changes the survivor. Eventually though, you have to choose one or the other path.
  • Listen to others; learn about grief, and the fact that it is survivable. We can all learn from the information that is already out there and has been used by millions through the years. And yes, there are still lots of people who cling to nonfunctional myths and beliefs about grief who have to be avoided as much as possible. Look for quality sources by checking their credentials and the resources on which they draw their wisdom.
  • Go easy on yourself when you have a bad day. Most mourners have bad days after experiencing a number of tolerable ones. Months later, you may feel the way you did the first few days after your loved one died. There is one word that has a wide range of application in the grief response: normal. We are all different and grieve differently, so don’t expect some sort of perfection. Nobody grieves in some perfect format. It doesn’t exist.

Remember, grief does not vanish completely, never to be heard from again. Memory will bring back some sadness from time to time and we learn to live with it. You will too. Your beloved will always be a part of you.

If it was a parent who died, you have their genes in you, and your memory can always recall them–and you can choose to talk with them as you see fit. This is healthy as you move on into the next phase of your life. Sure, the painful hole won’t go away but look around you for inspiration from all who are living proof that you can live with that reminder.

About the Author: Dr. LaGrand is a grief counselor and the author of eight books, the most recent, the popular Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved. He is known world-wide for his research on the Extraordinary Experiences of the bereaved (after-death communication phenomena) and is one of the founders of Hospice of the St. Lawrence Valley, Inc

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Oct. 24, 2007

Crying Out–A Plea For Help
Written by Sue Wahlstrom

There I stood talking with Mary and looking at her thinking why her? Why has she been chosen to suffer the battles of cancer? I thought to myself, she’s only thirty-seven years young, a mother of a beautiful ten year old little girl, Anna, and the wife of a wonderful supportive husband, David. I kept thinking…it’s not fair. It’s not fair, that she has to prepare her husband and daughter for a possible future without her! There she was with a surgery turban wrapped upon her head. They found the cancer had spread as a sist in her brain which was causing numbness down her left leg. They needed to remove it quickly before it caused further complications.

As I sat there, I thought Mary has gone through so much in the past four years trying to fight this evil intruder in her body. She’s been on Chemo treatments for this entire time hoping that the cancer in her lung would shrink and shrivel up. But instead, I sit there talking with her and listen to her responses given with deep, raspy, shallow sounds because the lung is collapsing due to the cancer and bouts of pneumonia. It’s just not fair. She reminisced about the walks she missed with her family and friends and the simple pleasures in life that are now a struggle. She told us about her little daughter Anna asking her Daddy if she could wear her Mommy’s coat to school. And Mary simply addressing that Anna is finding her own ways of dealing with this situation. It tears at my heart…but I felt that I couldn’t show this because of Mary’s beautiful shining brown eyes and contagious smile – she kept the room in awe with her positive attitude. We commented, “Mary, you seem so upbeat…” she came back with, “well, it doesn’t help to wallow in it. Don’t get me wrong, I do have my down days, but staying in the pity party doesn’t help anything or anyone. “My friend and I asked her if she would want to do more research on alternative methods of healing. I mentioned that alternative methods may not be covered by insurance and it may come down to a huge choice on their part.

As I left her room, my thoughts were on how can I help Mary and her family? On my drive home, it hit me or should I say God hit me with an idea. My mind started brainstorming up ideas of fundraisers to collect money for alternative methods of healing. Well, the miracle didn’t just stop there. The next day, I had an appointment with a wonderful Christian woman that suggested I write this editorial and ask the Christian world for help on this mission. So I am bringing this plea to you, the reader. Please consider an offering to help my dear Christian friend and her family. Please, if money is an issue, then add Mary, Anna, and David to your prayers to God. Her friends and family want so much for her to continue being a loving mother to her little girl, Anna, and a loving woman to her husband, David. Thank you for giving me your time and prayers.

Sue Wahlstrom

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Oct. 17, 2007

Today I am Grateful For…

Date Today

I am grateful for <<<fill-in this blank with what your are grateful for>>>.

As I write the above line, I wonder, “What is my answer?” My first thought is, “I am grateful for today.” Then I realize there are so many people, places and things for which I am grateful. Everyday the list grows.Everyday there are things that happen to us, and for us, that make us grateful. Sometimes, we even find, that after the passage of time, we become grateful. Take time today, tomorrow, and the next day to think about for what or whom you are grateful. Then write it down in your journal. Or maybe send a letter or a card, with dates and experiences to that person. You can start keeping a journal where you date and write in daily, weekly, or monthly about what you are grateful for, why and the circumstances that created the gratitude. This becomes a story and record of your feelings and warm experiences of what you have given, and also what you have received.

You can also create individual gratitude journals for your spouse, your children, parents, a friend, etc., that you journal in for a period of time. You can write about them sharing what you are grateful for about them. Get a new journal to use for this purpose only. Pick a colored pen or several colors. You can express your feelings with certain colors, green for a growth memory, blue for peaceful times, you decide what each color means and note that in the front of the journal. Date each entry and describe events, memories, or thoughts that you have about that person. Describe what they have given you, what you have observed, what you wish for them. Tell them about how grateful you are for them in your life, and why. This becomes a treasured keepsake and a priceless gift.

Telling someone you are grateful for them in your life, for what they have done, for who they are is a very powerful expression of caring and love. Telling a stranger who has given you something, directions, good service, a smile, that you are grateful for what they have done and given you is another form of connection. Spread the idea of gratitude. You may see something on TV or read about someone. Send them an email or letter of appreciation for who they are, what they stand for, or for what they have done.

Today I am grateful for <<<fill-in this blank with what your are grateful for>>>.

For Example – My self, my children, family, work, future, my recovery, etc. As I was thinking about what I am grateful for, I of course thought of my many wonderful, dear friends. So, I decided to email and ask what they were grateful for. I asked them if I could also share their responses with you, and here they are…

  • “Today I am grateful that I get to spend time with my children.”
  • “Today I am thankful for a generous heart that loves to spill over to others…and is constantly replenished by my beautiful family.”
  • “Today I am Grateful for the joy of friends. Today I am grateful for the light in the eyes of my friends. Today I am grateful for the roses in my garden. I am so very grateful I met you.”
  • “Today I am grateful that I can continually forgive myself. I can forgive myself for judging myself harshly when things don’t turn out just the way I was attached to them turning out. I can forgive myself when I am disappointed that I didn’t speak up and say exactly how I felt about a situation. I can forgive myself because when I did speak up, it didn’t come out of my mouth the way my mind thought it would. All in all, I am very grateful that I am me. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else in the whole world….and that’s gratitude!”
  • “Today I am grateful for a wife, 4 children and a daughter-in-law who are all working hard to find out what it is their Savior would have them do in life and then do it.”
  • “Today I am grateful for another experience of realizing that I am, indeed, safe and provided for.”
  • “I am grateful for days, like today, when my gratitude gallops gleefully ahead of me and I have to skip to keep up with it, instead of haul it behind me like a wagon load of manure, hoping it will carry its own weight – by tomorrow.”
  • “I am very grateful for the healing work that I do. I work long, hard hours, but I really enjoy helping people feel better. How many people can say that they love their work or feel that they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing?”
  • “Today, I am grateful for a Loving God who nurtures me. I am grateful for my 89 year old Mother who has cared for me and is still vibrant, helpful, and alive. I am grateful for my Granddaughter Hayley who holds my hand, trusts me, and I know loves me somewhere in her very special heart. I am grateful for good health which sustains me. I am grateful for my friends and acquaintances who care about me and bring so much joy into my life. And, finally, I am grateful for libraries, and the Internet, and transportation which constantly open new vistas in my horizon and let me appreciate this vast world and its infinite knowledge and power available to all those who are curious enough and ambitious enough to embrace them.”
  • “Today I am grateful for gentle friends, and a loving Heavenly Father.”
  • “I am grateful for the Divine Connections in my life – My family and friends. We laugh and cry together. With them I feel I belong and am loved. They are my greatest teachers. We validate each other. When depleted I seek them out. They renew my spirit I am blessed. I am also grateful for the roadblocks and failures in my life. They turned out to be valuable lessons that led me to new opportunities and connections I wouldn’t have had otherwise. They presented new Lifepaths.”
  • “Today I am grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who challenge me to think differently.”
  • “The scent of freshly cut grass coming through my open windows.”
  • “Today I am grateful for opening my eyes to see my husband on my side and my pug at my feet. I am grateful to look out my bedroom windows to see another day full of possibility as the sun slowly warms up my sweet backyard alive with quail, doves, hummingbirds, rabbits and all kinds of natures noises. I am grateful to feel my breath as it wanders through my body waking me up. I am grateful that I have one more day to enjoy, and be amazed, and be involved with life. And I am very grateful that I can go through another day full of awe and gratitude.”
  • “Today, I am grateful for my life, health, and for my mother still being alive.”
  • “I’m grateful for the support of many, many wonderful women in the community.”
  • “I am grateful for being able to carry the message that Light and Love is always present and everlasting. I get to do this on a moment to moment daily basis. I am grateful for all the loving people that I am blessed with in my life. I am grateful that the universe provides completely and abundantly. I am grateful to be alive and living full out.”

Copyright 2002 Doreene Clement All Rights Reserved.

About the author: Doreene Clement is the creator of, The 5 Year Journal. A journal where you can journal the next 5 years, in minutes a day, all in one book. Doreene also writes a monthly column called, About Journaling.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Oct. 10, 2007

5 Essential Tips for Writing a Eulogy
Written by Sheila Martin

The term eulogy sounds stiff and formal, but eulogies can include simple reminiscences, war stories, or favorite jokes. Here’s how to put a eulogy together.

  • Gather your material for the eulogy. First, collect the biographical facts: age, marriage dates, places lived, children, and so on. Now think about the stories you remember, or the turn of phrase or typical behavior that captures your loved one’s character so well. Talk with other survivors, so the picture you present will include their ideas as well.
  • Come up with a theme. A theme gives unity to the eulogy, helping your listeners to see the rich patterns of this life. For example, let’s say you are giving the eulogy for your late mother. As your theme, you decide to talk about your mother’s ability to make a home wherever she hung her hat. Using this theme, you describe her English childhood, her eager arrival in Montreal as a shy, young war bride, and then how she made a warm and welcoming home in every new army base to which your father’s career took them. Another example: Your eulogy for a friend might mention the various roles your friend successfully played: Raymond the Businessman, Raymond the Family Man, and Raymond the Winning Soccer Coach.
  • Organize the material. Write your notes in point form on sheets of paper or on 3×5 file cards—one idea to a card. Now group the cards into piles of similar topics. Then sort each pile of cards into a logical order.
  • Draft your speech. Write out the first draft of the eulogy. (If you have access to a computer, use it to make your editing job easier.) Use linking sentences to make each topic flow easily into the next. Pay most attention to your beginning and ending. As you write and polish, keep the words “celebration” and “thanksgiving” in your mind. If it is appropriate, include a few moments of humor or lightheartedness.
  • Practice speaking the eulogy. If you are not used to speaking in public, borrow a book on this topic from the library and quickly skim it to pick up some tips. Read the speech into a tape recorder and then play it back. You’ll be able to polish some more. Now stand in front of a mirror and imagine you are talking to your audience. Above all, remember to breathe. If you are afraid you might break down while reading the eulogy, ask someone ahead of time to be ready to take over at a signal from you. Just knowing you have a backup speaker will probably be all you need to stay calm.

About the author: Sheila is a best-selling author and webmistress of http://www.FuneralsWithLove.com. Her downloadable books include Writing a Eulogy… Step by Step and How to Plan a Loving Funeral. Readers are invited to the website to download the free “Funeral Cost Worksheet.”

Copyright © 2001 by Sheila Martin. All rights reserved.
Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Oct. 3, 2007

The 5 Stages of Dying
Written by Barbara Gould

Preparing for approaching death can be terrifying if you have no idea what to expect, both physically and emotionally. As the dying process enters its final stages there are two different dynamics at work.The physical aspect concerns the body as it begins its final process of shutting down; this ends the physical system’s functioning. The other dynamic is the emotional/mental and spiritual area which is a different process. This is where the spirit of the dyingindividual begins to slip away from its immediate environment and attachments. This release tends to follow its own priorities when it comes to letting go—of family members, unfinished business of a personal nature and/or unreconciled problems. You have all heard people tell how someone on their death bed refused to let go until a certain member of the family was able to get there. Even when the body is trying to shut down, the spirit hangs on until a resolution is reached. It is as though the dying person needs permission to go; needs to feel that he has achieved the support and acceptance of his fate by those he leaves behind. This way, he can slip into the next dimension of life with grace and dignity.

There is in all of us a curiosity about dying. Regardless of your religious beliefs, there have to be some doubts or shadows of uncertainty. There are five stages involved—some have time to proceed into each stage and come to a peaceful resolve.

  • DENIAL: I’m too young to die. I’m not ready to die (is anyone ever really ready?). You don’t just get up some morning and say, “Well, I’m ready to die today.” Even when a physician informs one that nothing can be done for them, the feeling that some mistake must have been made is in thedying person’s mind. The prediction from ones physician of imminent death can do several things. It can give you time to prepare, take care of business, close doors, make amends. The shock begins to ebb as you come to grips with approaching death.
  • ANGER: Suddenly you are not in control of your life, ordeath. You have no choice…you are going to die. You have always known this, no one has come out and stated it as a fact before. It makes you angry, you feel so helpless, especially at first, then guilt climbs upon your back. Anger is directed at everyone and no one in particular. It is a sense of loss of control which is likely not a new feeling if you have endured a long illness. It is normal. Anger is in its own a sense of strength. It can also be debilitating.
  • BARGAINING: You are willing now to compromise. No use denying it. Anger comes and goes, so perhaps you can make a deal with God! You are willing to promise to do or not to do specific things if only you can be given more time. It can be based on an upcoming event that is important to you. You can be suffering from insecurities regarding a member of your family or a loved one who you feel is yet dependent on you. There can be a rift that has never been eliminated that needs to be further addressed. You are not free to go until these reasons can be alleviated once and for all. You are hoping yet and eager to deal!
  • DEPRESSION: This is such a normal part of the process of preparing to die. You are already depressed about your incapabilities in dealing with responsibility, projects and the situation of every day life. Symptoms of terminal illness are impossible to ignore. You are fully aware that death is inevitable. Aware, angry and filled with sorrow and here again, the culprit of guilt sneaks in as you mourn for yourself and the pain that this is causing your family and loved ones. Another totally NORMAL phase.
  • ACCEPTANCE: This comes after you work though the numerous conflicts and feelings that death brings. You can succumb to the inevitable as you become more tired and weakness hangs on. You become less emotional, calmness arrives and banishes fear along with joy or sadness. You realize the battle is almost over, and now it’s really alright for you to die.

Hospice defines acceptance… Acceptance is NOT doing nothing, defeat, resignation or submission. Acceptance is coming to terms with reality. It is accepting that the world will still go on without you. Death is, after all, just a part of LIFE.

Copyright @ 2001 Barbara Gould.

About the author: Barbara Gould is the author of Weird Old Woman Down The Road,and Other Minor Observations. She writes articles on aging, poetry and short stories, a column, “Aging Gracefully.”

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Learning To Live

Death. No one wants to talk about it and yet none of us will escape it. When it happens to someone we know, most people don’t know how to handle it. And, it’s because people are uncomfortable about it and it’s so final that people fear it the most. In fact, there’s only one thing that tops death on the list of things people fear most and that’s public speaking. As a comedian once noted, most people would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy!

The death of someone you love makes you aware of the fragility of life. It wakes you up and makes you question how well you are living. After all, no one wants to die feeling like they haven’t yet lived. You can choose how you live; you can worry about the future and what might happen to you, you can complain about how things aren’t the way you want them to be, or you can live your best life right now, in this moment. By choosing to live life to the fullest and by protecting yourself and your assets for when the inevitable happens, the fear of death will lessen.It was only a few months ago when I lost my dear friend to a sudden heart attack at 43 years old. It happened the way we all wish to go; my friend went to bed one night and never woke up.

And it’s because I loved that I grieve. Without love and a strong connection to others, we wouldn’t experience pain when they are gone. So in my sadness and grief, I am grateful, for I know that I loved and was loved. From my experience, I’ve learned several important lessons about death…and life that I’d like to share with you. My hope is that you will choose to live your best life and, as a leader, you will share these tips with others both in your work and your personal life.

  • Life is happening right now. Experience the present moment. People who try to bargain with death often are people who have not truly lived. They’ve just been existing, and they beg for more time in order to do what they could have been doing all along.
  • If there is love, then there will be pain when it ends. And it’s okay. It lets you know that you loved and there is nothing more joyful than love. Love anyway; it’s worth the pain.
  • Experience all of your feelings—even the ones that you consider unpleasant. Feelings aren’t really negative or bad; they just are. They are your inner messengers; they let you know you’re alive. It’s what you do with your feelings that can be bad. When you feel a strong emotion, resist the temptation to explain your feelings or rationalize them away. Just pay attention and be with them. Accept your feelings as you experience them and try to understand what they are communicating to you. Don’t hang onto them or hide from them; they will drain you if not addressed. People have trouble talking about death because of how they feel about their own life or death, or because they cannot handle negative feelings. When my friend died, people weren’t quite sure how to handle their own feelings, and they didn’t know how to deal with mine, so they avoided the subject or avoided me. But I needed to talk about it. I needed to fully experience my sad feelings and I needed to be given the space to explore how I felt about losing this person, about what this person meant to me, and about the void that now exists in my life. After any loss, people need the space to explore their new reality and you can support them by just giving them this space.There are people who don’t fear death; they fear life. Your life is a gift, an opportunity for you to experience this world and to make a difference while you’re here. Learn to enjoy yourself. Take responsibility for living your life well. Don’t get comfortable with mediocrity; challenge yourself to be more, to experience more. If you don’t know how, hire a coach. You don’t need to do life alone.
  • Leave nothing left unsaid. The moment you experience the truth, share it. Tell people you love them…often. My grandmother used to say, “Never go to bed angry.” That was her secret recipe for nearly 50 years of marital bliss. If you have something to say, say it now. About six months before my friend’s death, I called and thanked this person for their love, kindness, and support over the years. This person had made a huge impact in who I’d become and I needed my friend to know how grateful I was for the part they played in my personal development. When my friend died, I was so glad I hadn’t waited to share that.
  • Create a Will. By having a Will, you clearly specify who gets what and it frees you from worry. You can relax knowing that when you’re gone, your belongings and all you’ve worked for will pass on the way you intend.
  • Create a Living Will. This lets others know how to care for you if something should happen that renders you unable to decide for yourself.
  • Protect yourself with adequate life, health, disability, and long-term care insurance. With adequate protection, you leave nothing to chance, and you can relax knowing that you and your family are taken care of. It just makes sense.
  • Do what you love. On most days, if you find yourself miserable when you roll out of bed in the morning, choose to do something about it. Life is too short to be unhappy for long. Identify the source of your angst and take action to change it. Choose to use up every ounce of potential that you were given. And discover, develop, and share your gifts with the world. Each one of us has a special gift. Do you know yours?
  • No regrets. Don’t approach your death bed wishing you had or being sorrowful for not doing things that would have brought you joy. The elderly often speak about what they would do differently: take more risks, spend more time with loved ones, worry less, stress less, laugh more, love more. If there is something you want to do, go for it. Don’t wait. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. So grab on with both hands and enjoy the ride. This is not a practice run. Do what you want to be doing. Be good to yourself. Stress less and remember that in the end, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how you live today!

Copyright © 2002 by Julie Fuimano. All rights reserved.

About the author: Are you ready to stop struggling and start enjoying yourself? Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is a Personal & Career Coach and author of “101 Tips For Developing The Leader In You!” Contact her today for your free consultation.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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Coping with a Funeral

Sunday, 04 June 2006

When the death of a loved one occurs, regardless or whether it was expected or not, you will find yourself having to deal with a great number of people. Some you will know closely, others may be complete strangers, all claiming some kind of relationship to the deceased. While grieving for your loved one, you may find yourself not wanting contact with anybody other than those to whom you are closest, and having to deal with so many people can be very difficult. It’s important to understand how to handle them.

Relatives and Close Friends
Those who were close to the deceased need to be contacted before the funeral. When you break the news, remember that they will also need the chance to express their grief and this must be respected, no matter how deeply distressed you are feeling yourself. Sometimes it can be difficult, if not impossible, to trace certain family members. Do not feel guilty if you’ve not been able to contact them. Some of those who you will need to contact, may be people who you do not know personally. If they come to the funeral and you have not been able to speak to them properly, it would be a good idea to write or telephone them later, to thank them for attending.

The Small Funeral
Perhaps you have decided on a small funeral, either through your own personal preference, or because the deceased made their own preference clear. Perhaps the financial side of the funeral will force you to this decision. Make this clear and stick to your decision.You may find that some friends or relatives insist on attending even after you have explained this to them. Be polite but firm. Explain that you appreciate their wish to attend, but that it is a family decision to enforce such a restriction. If they still insist, they are simply being insensitive and you may have to take a different approach. You might tell them that the date of the funeral has not yet been decided and leave things at that. Whatever you do, don’t allow anyone to emotionally blackmail you into changing your decision. And don’t feel guilty if you needed to lie. They are being insensitive, and you are simply trying to deal with matters as best you can.

Polite Conversation
Unless the funeral is very small, it will probably be impossible for you to speak to all of the people who attend. Don’t even try. Most people will understand that you are not going to feel like making polite conversation. You will find that those will any degree of sensitivity, will simply approach you, kiss your cheek/shake your hand, and offer their condolences. They will not expect more than you are able to offer.

The Wake
Most people organise some form of refreshment after the funeral. This can be a good way of accepting condolences from those you were unable to speak with during the actual service. By offering refreshments you are showing that you are willing to share your grief with those who are also suffering through their own loss. Enlist the help of a friend or two. You may feel that you will be able to cope, but having support close by will be very helpful should you find that you are feeling too upset to appear.

The Will
It’s an unfortunate fact that funerals can often bring out the worst in people. Some of the most long-lasting family arguments have started at a funeral, with squabbles over who should get what. You may find yourself surprised at just who is able to throw themselves into such arguments, even though they are in the midst of their own grief. You may find yourself being quizzed at the graveside. People can be very clever in their approach, offering condolences and then adding the innocent question of what the deceased has left to whom. You may also find yourself the target of malicious comments regarding your “improved financial situation.” There can be more hidden rivalry within families than most of us imagine.You must not allow yourself to be drawn into arguments. Pretend to ignore any unwanted comments and questions. If they persist, simply explain that you are far too upset to think about such matters at the moment and that if they have a right to know the contents of the will, they will be contacted in due course. In the case of a will having never been made, and where there is any disagreement regarding who has the right to what, explain that you will appoint a solicitor to handle the estate, and explain, as above, that they will be contacted in due course.

The Following Days
Some people find themselves terribly alone in the days following the funeral, whereas others feel that they never have any time to themselves to grieve. Remember that others cannot read your mind anymore than you can read theirs, and they are simply doing what they believe is to be right.If they choose to stay away, they are probably doing so out of respect for your privacy. If they choose to spend as much time as possible with you, this will be because they fear for your ability to cope alone. Explain to them what your needs are. If you need people around you, phone some friends and ask them to visit. If you need to be alone, explain this politely and ask if you may phone them should you need their company. You will find that most people are very accommodating as long as they understand your needs.The loss of a loved one is never easy and nobody will ever expect it to be.

For some the funeral seems to pass as just a hazy memory, for which they feel guilt at not remembering the details of this last farewell. Remember, that it is the memories you have of the person when alive that are important, and it is these which will remain clear to you in the future. During deep grief it can be very difficult to grasp details of what is happening around us, but this does not mean you didn’t care. Quite the opposite in fact.

About the author: Having moved 20 times in her life, Sharon was in a position to understand the difficulties experienced by mature women wishing to develop new friendships. Understanding the problems fed Sharon’s desire to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem and FriendsYourWay UK, a website dedicated to helping women in the UK find new, platonic friends in their own local areas, was developed. Sharon can be contacted on sharon@friendsyourway.co.uk This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Copyright © 2001 by Sharon Jacobsen. All rights reserved.

Thank you to our friends at Grief and Loss Recovery for permission to use this material.

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