As Bereaved Parents and families it is our duty to teach the world about grief. The general populous, without the experience, does not understand what grief is. So we can help others to know and prepare to better deal with us and others in the future. We can break this into 10 things we want the world to know.
1. Grief Hurts!! It is real. It is often accompanied by pain, confusion, and the inability to concentrate and feeling numb is a usual part of the process. We grieve deeply because we loved deeply. Grief for a child is enduring. It lasts a life time. Losing ones child to death is losing part of our future. Bereaved as defined in the Dictionary is " in the state of loss." It is a loss from which we will not be totally recovered.
2. The pain, confusion and other effects are real! We are not making it up and we can not control it.
3. Grief takes a long time. It does not get a quick fix. " The funeral is over, we have closure, now we get on with our lives" is only in the media, fairy tales and the mind of those who have not gone through it.
4. We all grieve differently. Whatever time it takes is all right. For some it is a very long process even a lifetime with no relief. For others, equilibrium can be found sooner. They still grieve but seem to cope with it in more effective ways. Don’t expect to grieve like anyone else. However you grieve is all right as long as it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else. But not dealing with or recognizing our grief only makes it last longer.
5. There are physical effects of grief. Some people can’t eat but some drastically increase their food intake. Some sleep more while some can’t sleep. Headaches and other physical symptoms are not uncommon. There can be sexual difficulties, concentration problems, the inability to organize thoughts or tasks. Some people forget certain aspects of the death and that memory may not return.
6. Grief makes people cry. This is a natural part of the grief process. The tears of grief are chemically different from all other types of tears. Do not be ashamed to cry. Do not let others make you feel ashamed of crying. Let them know it is natural and they did not make you any more sad then you already are. Teach them to accept the emotion and to know if it is felt and dealt with now we will deal with things better in the future and possibly sooner. To quote the song from "Free to Be You and Me"...."crying lets the sad out."
7. Special days bring grief back stronger. Personal events: birthday, the start of school, holidays, etc., death anniversary, and those days held dear to you and your child; it is a natural part of the process and normal. It is best if we can be aware of this before those events occur so it does not catch us by surprise. Also with our awareness, we may be able to plan ways that can help us to better cope with those events.
8. The grief process and the death of our child can change our personal philosophy. Grief can also increase our boldness to question our beliefs, and courage to speak out. Let our new philosophy be O.K. for us to accept. This new experience gives us new insights. Also don’t feel it is necessary to convince others that we and our personal philosophies have changed.
9. Grief changes people and their relationships - don’t be afraid of this. The reasons for maintaining relationships change and sometimes the relationships break. It isn’t always fair but accept that this is the way it is sometimes. It is best if we learn about our new selves and hope those we are closest to will accept us. Redefine ourselves and our relationships.
10. Heal and recover if it is possible. It is possible if we do our "grief work". It is a very common experience to become "tired of grief." It is best if we can do something positive with our grief at that stage.
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