How We Experience Grief
Led by Jim Dixon

Grief has been described as "Laying ears on people". It becomes a process of talking and listening. In some it is accompanied by acute and / or chronic illness; shock and disbelief. If we can, we must look for positives. We can use all of our resources, both monitory and physical, in dealing with the effects of grief. Negotiate with ourselves and others for ways to fight for life without our child. It is not uncommon that we neglect ourselves, our spouses and other children. It is O.K. initially, but we must fight to move beyond this stage. We all do crazy things. We are in battle for reality and we are suffering. At first we are too busy to grieve. We may be trying to save our lives and sanity.

In the case of sudden or accidental death, doctors and police are not as kind and understanding as we may like because they are trying to protect themselves from the emotions they are going through. We are just beginning an immensely emotional and intense time. We can wonder how can the world go on when ours has just collapsed. This is a time when we need hugs and the touch of others to get us through and keep us based in reality. There can be periods of hopelessness because of bad memories and /or guilt. These are at the worst at first and it is not unusual. Our brains are numb! We do not think logically.

Grief does decrease over time, but at first it can be like we have gone into a shell. Like the turtle we want to shut the world and reality out. Eventually we must go out. When we do go out and become very distressed with a situation, or an event becomes too intense, it is best for spouses and family to have a signal so they know that we must leave without giving a long explanation.

Grief is like a roller coaster ride... an up and down emotional ride. It is not a ride we chose to take and the price of this ride is the highest we can pay... the death of our child. We do not see the highs or lows coming and can be angered by highs. " How can I feel good when my child is dead?" This roller coaster is no thrill and not fun!

GRIEVE IN A WAY THAT WORKS FOR YOU. ACCEPT THE WAY YOUR LOVED ONE GRIEVES. ( An example given is accepting your spouses being able to continue an activity even when that activity repulses you. They can continue the activity with your acceptance but you can be accepted for giving it up.)

It is best if we can try to make some sense of the death. We had no control of it. Also there are no perfect people, children, parents, or relationships. Try not to be too hard on yourself for parenting mistakes, times when you were angry with your child. You were doing the best you could at that time. There are no answers to "why me" or "why not me" and we will not know the answers to the whys as long a we are alive. We must face this in order for us to live and to do what we must to go on from this point. We are viewing all of our world from a different perspective now . Make a conscientious effort to give others in our family a break; they too are coping as best they can in their own way. They have not had this experience before either. Don’t feel you must always be the strong one or the weak one. Be there for each other because periodically changing the roles can be helpful in experiencing and dealing with different aspects of grief.

There is a new normal in our lives now. This is not something we "just get over" but with time it is not as tough as it once was. We may lose friends and relationships because they don’t like the "new " you. Find new friends and it is a surprise when we are closer to all of our friends in the long run.

TALK ABOUT YOUR CHILD AND YOUR FEELINGS! Don’t try to keep them locked inside because they will come out some time in some way. Do it sooner as it speeds your grief work along. It is best to get it out as positively as possible. Hiding your feelings hurts yourself and others. If we try not to get or stay close to others, it is a way of isolating ourselves from the hurt we feel but it will always be there until we deal with it.

We can say "if only..." but they are not what is. We did the best we could do at that time. Realizing this can make a difference in how we remember our child. Should you feel there should be a change in how you reacted and you have other children, make those changes for them, but guilt over "If Only" only hurts you. Take care of yourself first; it is easier to help others after you have worked through your own issues.

Relationships with your child still exist even after their death.

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