Ten Tips for Grievers

We are grateful to Ellen Hufschmidt and Kyoko Katayama, who facilitated last night’s wonderful meeting on facing the holidays after the death of a loved one, for sharing these Ten Tips for Grievers, adapted from the writings of Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

 

  1. Know that each person’s grieving process is unique. Trust and follow your own intuition in concert with the council of supportive friends and guides as the best way for you to grieve.
  2. Talk about your grief. It is very important to the healing process. Seek out others that can be good listeners and will allow you to talk, without needing to give you advice. Avoid the thinking that nobody wants to hear your pain or your story. It’s also OK to be silent when it’s what you need to do at a given moment.
  3. Allow yourself to feel a wide range of fluctuating emotions. These feelings will include sadness, fear, anger, guilt, confusion, disorientation, and even relief. These are normal and reasonable responses to grief. Find listeners that will be free of judgements and can accept all your feelings.
  4. Be accepting and tolerant of your limits. Feeling and processing your own grief is hard work and can leave you tired and exhausted. This is normal. It is common to need more rest. It’s important to eat a balanced diet even though that may be hard to do. Stay close to your own sense of what activities fit and which may seem too much to take on at a given time. Remain open and willing to try new things.
  5. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself when you have emotional outbursts of tears when they are least expected. When this happens, it can feel a bit frightening and out of control. Being overwhelmed by feelings is common. It’s much healthier to have the experience than to suppress that energy by keeping it in your body to fester. It’s helpful to find people you can talk to that know from their own experience the awkward feelings that arise when this happens.
  6. Make use of ritual and ceremony. It’s a way to acknowledge the loss, but also brings together the support of people that love you and share in your sadness. Today many people are foregoing gatherings such as funerals or services of remembrance. This makes the grief process more difficult. It is helpful to share in the biggest of life’s transition that we must all face at one time or another. We know that some kind of structured acknowledgement of our losses is useful. Gatherings surrounded with our loved ones and others that are feeling the pain of loss help us come to terms with our human condition, that people we love will die.
  7. Embrace your spirituality. Finds ways that are useful to you, such as: daily readings, journaling, quiet time for silence and contemplation, or talking with those you trust from within your faith. Sometimes anger at God or our beliefs comes up. Find room to accept these emotions as part of the transformational “circle of life” path you are on. Find a spiritual teacher or elder that can listen to your hurt and sense of abandonment without judgement.
  8. Allow yourself to feel and struggle with life’s biggest questions and desire for meaning. It’s part of the grief process to struggle with the “Why now? What’s next?” questions. You may be able to find answers for some of these but not all. This is part of the sea of confusion we pass through as we find new outlooks. Many people’s suggestions or attempts to help are not adequate, don’t fit, or aren’t helpful. Let them go and listen to your own heart and nature as you find your way to a new balance.
  9. Treasure your memories, share them with others, and find solace in them. They will help keep your heart open. Allow all the memories to filter through you; even the challenging ones may hold some gold that can take you to a new place of understanding and even forgiveness.
  10. Give yourself time to grieve. It takes longer than we hope or expect. Grief is a process not an event. Be as kind, patient, and as tolerant as you can with yourself. Keep company with those that let you have the time and space you need because the death of someone you loved changes you forever.

February 2016 Link Round-Up

The Winter 2016 newsletter of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Minnesota is now available on their website.  To read it, go to the FCA of MN home page.

FCA

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Rochester

From the Rochester Area Chapter of the Minnesota Threshold Network:

All welcome! Free Will Donation 

You’ve lived a green life – but did you know it is now possible to carry your environmentally-conscious living into your end of life plans?  Green burial is a natural alternative to resource-intensive conventional burial and cremation. Through an informational presentation, video clips of other’s experiences and discussion, we will explore the topic of green burial. Learn the definition, benefits and legalities of green burial, as well as what local resources are available to support your choice to die green

February 16, 2016, 6:30-8:30pm, Dying to be Green, Assisi Heights Spirituality Center, 1001 14th St.NW, Rochester, MNDefinition, benefits, and legalities of green burial, as well as local resources available to support the choice to die green. Presented by the Rochester Area Chapter of the MTN. To register call (507) 280-2195.

Thanks to Deah Kinion, the Rochester Chapter now has a presence on Face Book.  It is a public page, so you don’t have to be a member of FB to access it.  Please “like” it and then invite all your friends to like it too.   Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/RochesterChapterMNThresholdNetwork/?fref=ts

 

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Late Life: A Conversation with Atul Gawande 

http://video.tpt.org/video/2365637252/?utm_source=Late+Life%3A+A+Conversation+with+Atul+Gawande&utm_campaign=Late+Life%3A+A+Conversation+with+Atul+Gawande+Airs+on+TPT+Starting+This+Weekend!%3A+&utm_medium=email

Episode: Dr. Atul Gawande, author of “Being Mortal,” shares his vision of healthcare that helps people live well to the end.

Upcoming Broadcast Dates:

  • Sunday, Feb 7| 1:00 a.m. CT (channel: TPTMN)
  • Sunday, Feb 7| 7:00 a.m. CT (channel: TPTMN)
  • Sunday, Feb 7| 1:00 p.m. CT (channel: TPTMN)”

 

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The Mary Hanson Show: Special Mini-Series for Black History Month, tpt 2-2, the MN Channel, Mondays at 10AM, 4 PM, 10 PM and 4 AM

 March 21 – Preparing for End of Life Healthcare Decisions – Guest:  Anne Elizabeth Denny, Consultant, speaker and author of My Voice, My Choice

April link roundup

Dying Green is a 26-minute documentary about natural burial and land conservation, set in the Appalachians. Dr. Billy Campbell’s dream is to conserve one million acres of land, using our own death to create wildlife preserves. Two copies of the DVD are available at Hennepin County Library.

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NEW FAQs about family-led after death care on the blog!

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Rest in Peace: Stories About Death Care is a list of long-form journalism pieces about death and death care, compiled by Emily Perper.

Link Roundup

1. From earthporm.com: “Bye-Bye Coffins, These Organic Burial Pods Turn Your Loved Ones Into Trees”

Based in Italy, the Capsula Mundi project created an organic, biodegradable burial pod that literally turns a person’s remains into nutrients for a beautiful tree growing directly up above. Unfortunately, these burial pods are only a concept idea for now.

Unfortunately, Italian law is keeping this at the concept stage for now.

 

2. A Soft Goodbye is the beautifully story of how a Canadian home funeral guide helped the author and her family grieve the loss of a cherished relative. “No one called 911 or a funeral home. Instead, Richard’s family rang their death midwife.”

3. “What to Do With Our Bodies After We Die”: The Urban Death Project is developing a new option which may appeal to those who want to minimize environmental harm and give something back to the earth when we die. It is a system designed for urban settings in which human bodies are transformed into a soil-enriching substance. This choice can provide a deeply spiritual element for those who see something sacred in the cycles of life and the processes of decomposition and regeneration.

Katrina Spode for the Urban Death Project.
Image by Katrina Spode for the Urban Death Project.

4. “The Trouble With Advance Directives”: New York Times article exploring the shortcomings of the current method of creating and maintaining advance directives in the US.

5. New video from Ask a Mortician: Everyone’s Favorite Conversation ~ Talking about Deathwith your parents.  Caitlin Doughty makes it almost fun, with some good questions at about 4 minutes in, to ask yourself first and foremost.

6. And be sure to catch Doughty’sirreverent take on traditional vs. natural/green burial.

January 2014 meeting: Funeral home price lists.

The next Minnesota Threshold Network meeting will be Monday, January 13, 7:00 pm, at the home of Linda Bergh, 4315 Xerxes Ave. Minneapolis. 612-927-0894. Funeral Consumer’s Alliance of Minnesota board members will share their recent price survey of 80 Twin Cities Funeral homes and discuss common interests, including asking funeral homes to post prices on their websites. On January 1, 2013, California became the first state to enact this requirement.

The New School’s End of Life Conversations Series

Commonweal is a nonprofit center dedicated to healing, learning, the environment, and justice. Founded in 1976 in Bolinas, California, Commonweal conducts programs that contribute to human and ecosystem health—to a safer world for people and for all life. Through the New School, Commonweal is engaging the conversation around death and dying in American culture.

End of Life Conversations Series:

Despite all of the recent attention to death and the process of dying in America, direct and heart-centered conversations about death are still rare—and patients and families frequently have unmet needs. As part of our work at Commonweal, we have listened deeply to people talking about these issues for decades. Our vision for this series is to contribute to a growing conversation about death in America. We’d like to create a public space where questions of death and dying can be explored in safety and without judgment. The following conversations are part of this growing series.

For links to all conversations in this series, see The New School’s website.