When Real Comunication is Difficult
Presented by Susan Van Vleck
Notes by Kathy Simone

From birth we are led to gender based behavior. Men perform tasks, they do not dwell on feelings. Under stress this can push men to drugs and alcohol rather than leaning on others. Women seek support groups, explore emotions, and seek to validate their feelings.The differences are set by society. We had no choice about losing our child, but we can decide how to go on. It is important to make the marriage top priority. We need to validate listening with touch – a hug, a pat. Talk about your deceased child. Talk about the grief process and feelings. Write things out if talking is too difficult.When you are angry, let the other know whether you are angry at them or because your child died. Buy old dishes, say why you are mad, and throw a dish! Write what you are angry about on Styrofoam cups, read each one, and stamp it flat! These communication techniques are especially good for women who are not supposed to show anger.Decide together what to do with your dead child’s possessions. Some ideas are to make a quilt of their clothes, donate their toys to charities.Never assume that because someone is not crying that they are not grieving. A common heavy task for men in the workplace is the all too common question "How is your wife doing?" This stifles men’s need to express their own pain."It is difficult to lean on someone who is already doubled over in pain."

The following is an updated hand out from Susan's 2004 workshop.
Marriage & Communication
2004 Bereaved Parents of the USA Gathering
July 9-11, 2004 Charleston, SC

Suggestions to Keep the Communication Lines Open

  1. Share your "high" and "low" of the day
  2. Read and discuss a grief book together
  3. Set up a meeting to talk and share feelings
  4. Write down your thoughts and feelings/love letter
  5. Do an anger exercise together
  6. Ask your spouse out on a date
  7. Talk about how you met and the moment you fell in love
  8. Touch each other and say, "I love you."
  9. Reminisce about your child
  10. Work together on a Memorial for your child

Susan Van Vleck~email

"Death is not a permanent separation, but a temporary good-bye."
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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