Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grief and Loss Overview

Grief and Loss Overview


Maurice Turmel PhD

An overview of grief and loss shows us that this is a broad category of life experience. We usually associate it with death and dying, but it can include losing your employment and broken relationships as additional categories that generate the grief experience. Grief and loss comes in a multiplicity of dimensions that affect our daily lives.

Losing a loved one is what we typically associate with grief and loss. But losses of many types can also generate powerful grief reactions. We include here broken relationships, loss of a pet and loss of employment. When the loss experience strikes we immediately want relief and begin seeking some kind of recovery help.

Today we can see grief and loss associated with divorce, relationship breakup, pet grief and loss of employment. We can also see associations with the loss of ones home, place of business and career aspirations as some hopes and dreams never materialize. We tend not to see these as grief and loss categories, but in fact they are losses that affect us in similar ways as losing a loved one.

The main point of this article is that dealing with grief and loss has a lot of common dimensions over all of its related categories. We mourn the loss of a loved one. We grieve the loss of a pet. We agonize over a broken relationship. We become depressed at the loss of our job.

What is the central point here? Why do we examine grief and loss from all these points of view? Because at the heart of every crisis is an emotional wound. We feel hurt, depressed and sad. We feel lost and afraid. Something we valued has been taken away. We feel pain associated with any loss and that usually elicits anger as a first response. These reactions are typical in every type of grief and loss experience.

Grief and loss, as a life experience, emerges in many aspects of our lives. Learning to relieve ourselves of stress via relevant grief recovery programs can have far reaching benefits. Recovering our usual bounce and drive is a worthy goal and significant benefit in grief recovery. Whatever we learn about dealing with grief and loss can be applied across its many dimensions and occurences.

Growing, expanding and losing are part of the life cycle. A snake crawls into the tall grass in order to shed its old skin. Why? Because the new underneath is pressing for release. Each cyle of our life presents circumstances in which we lose something to gain something better. Letting go is a tough life lesson, but essential to our growth. The old must die so that the new can be born.

Losing a loved one is a powerful and devastating experience and one we never solicit consciously. This is the most difficult of all losses and we acknowledge that it is hard to see any benefit in it. But losing and gaining are with us everyday in a great variety of forms. Learning to cope with all types of loss will help us when the big losses strike. Finding the right resources is essential to managing our grief and loss experience.

Dealing with our emotions is central to the recovery process, no matter what type of loss you encounter. Turning to each other for comfort and solace can bring peace and new found friendships. All times of trial have their secret benefits. That is the main lesson from grief and loss. Life does go on.

http://www.wordbranch.com/store/p71/When_Angels_Call.html

Friday, May 22, 2009

Counseling and Grief Recovery



When I was in private practice I saw a lot of individuals who were grieving the loss of a loved one, whether that was a child, a spouse, a parent or a close friend. On a few occasions I saw couples where one of them had been diagnosed with a terminal condition and had less than 6 months to live. These situations were particularly traumatic for the persons involved, especially for the spouse who was not ill.

These couples, with the terminally ill partner, needed to work through feelings about their situation and the practical steps necessary to prepare for the inevitable. The terminally ill partner seemed to have an easier time with the process once they had accepted the reality of their death. When my brother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I witnessed the same effects taking place for he and my sister. Broadly speaking, it was always the surviving partner that had the toughest time.

With counselling of any sort, the goal is to LISTEN! Not just the hear the words an individual was speaking, but to identify the Feelings behind them. When I would reflect back to the individual I always began with sounds like youre feeling " sad, angry, scared, anxious, depressed " whatever it was they were conveying. I would then ask them to check in to see if what I said was accurate. It usually was.

Then I would instruct them to pay attention to that particular feeling and tell me more about it. They would then describe their feelings in detail along with whatever physical reactions might be attached to it. Tears would begin to flow as they related the physical and emotional reactions they were experiencing. This was the essence of my counselling approach for persons in grief, no matter what the precipitating circumstances.

It was not unusual for clients to ask about Stages of Grief and/or some theory they had heard about in their research on the matter. As interesting as this might be, I would point out that anything that distracted them from their feelings was a waste of their recovery efforts. In contrast, anything that helped them focus on feelings would always be the most beneficial. After a few challenging sessions, where painful feelings were addressed and released, the client would realize that this was the path to recovery. Not only that, but learning to identify, describe and release feelings as a general practice, would have benefits far beyond their successful grief recovery.

We are programmed toward externals by our various sources of news that like to talk about charts, graphs, theories and stages. These tantalizing tidbits are geared toward boosting ratings or adding another "Top Ten Ways to Heal Grief" book to the self-help section of bookstores. A helpful grief recovery resource will focus on Internals, such as feelings and emotions, because that's always where the hurt lies. Our Heart and Feeling Center determines the quality of our life and tells us when we are hurting. By focusing inward we identify and release feelings, along with the associated pain. Writing in a journal, listening to good music, reading heart-centered poetry will put you in touch with Your Heart because that's where healing actually happens.

A well written grief recovery book can become an excellent counselling companion as long as it is designed to put you in touch with your feelings. A fully narrated grief resource can take you even further. Since the feelings associated with grief and bereavement are so intense, youre practically there. Just a little push and the guidance counselling resource book and youre on your way. For most of us, all we need is Permission to Feel. Our heart and soul will take it from there because we have engaged our body and feeling natures innate healing capability.

With any recovery process there can be many distractions along the way. In the case of grief recovery these can come in the form of stages, charts and graphs that are intellectually interesting but have no value in terms of your grief recovery. Most religions, even though well-intentioned, fall short on this matter as well. A good grief resource, counselor or support group can help you focus on the heart of the matter which is your feeling nature. Externals, even when interesting, can detract you from the task at hand - healing your broken heart.

You now have what you need to heal your grief. You will recover from this tragedy and great loss. You will become intimately acquainted with your Heart and Feeling Centre. You will come to a point where you can think about your loved one and smile. Because when the hurt is finally healed, what remains with you is the love you carry in your heart, and that is forever.

http://www.wordbranch.com/store/p71/When_Angels_Call.html


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Real Stages of Grief Recovery


The stages of Death and Dying evolved by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross are often mis-identified as The Stages of Grief Recovery. In her schema, she came up with 1) denial, 2) anger, 3) bargaining, 4) depression and 5) acceptance as reactions to a diagnosis of terminal illness. Her stages only make sense when considered against that backdrop. As such, this configuration has nothing to do with the stages of grief recovery.

Looking back over my 25 years of therapeutic experience dealing with hundreds of individuals and families going through grief and loss and a review of the currently available data I have come up with 4 stages of Grief Recovery. Kubler-Ross' stages do not fit this paradigm even though they are often mistaken as the quintessential guideline. For those of you seeking grief recovery the following stages are what you can expect.

1) Numbness and Shock: - We hear the news about the death of a loved one and our mind goes into shock. The news is too unbelievable, too hard to digest in one sitting. Numbness enters the picture because our mind is still reeling from the news as our body goes into a state of emotional numbness. We try desperately to process this terrible news. Simple tasks now feel overwhelming. Feelings of disorientation and displacement are common. Some have described this as a dreamlike state where you feel disconnected from events and people around you. Funeral arrangements and other issues are accomplished mechanically.

Stage 2 - Disintegration and Disorientation: The initial shock of losing a loved one begins to settle down and we are now faced with the deeper feelings of grief and bereavement. Emotional disintegration, which feels like "falling apart" enters the picture as the reality of the loss hits us hard. Physical reactions such as sleeplessness and loss of appetite are not uncommon and need to be taken up with your family doctor. On the emotional side, feelings of confusion, anxiety, anger and depression may now begin to surface. These deeper reactions are your body and mind's way of trying to release stress. Grief recovery means working through these reactions over time.

Stage 3) Bereavement and Grief Recovery - Once you are past the shock and have started to come out of disorganization, bereavement and grief recovery can begin in earnest. You can now make full use of your grief recovery resources including books, audio books, healing music and grief counseling. These days, you can be part of an online support group where sharing is the by-word and all persons there are eager and ready to listen and help each other recover. You are not alone, unless you choose to be. And you are not a victim, unless you choose that as well!

Stage 4 - Coming Back Together / Reintegration - You've been following an action plan laid out in your favored grief resources. A good book, counselor or support group has provided a set of guidelines to follow and you realize this journey of recovery is manageable. Books, audio resources, counseling and support groups provided the framework to recovery you've been looking for. Your action steps bear fruit. You notice a little less emotional tenderness with each passing day and more of your old self returning. Your life has changed. You've lost a valued loved one. The pain at times felt unbearable. But you are past that now and your grief recovery is near the end.

These are the stages of grief recovery as I have come to know them after 25 years of helping hundreds of individuals, couples and families come to terms with Murder Grief, Suicide Grief, Relationship Grief, Loss of a Parent, Loss of a Child and Loss of a Spouse. I have also dealt with many losses in my own life including a best friend, mother, favorite brother-in-law, special uncle and other family members and acquaintances.

For a successful grief recovery I recommend the following: 1) Acquire a good reading and/or audio book resource that you can access whenever you want and need to, something that will provide support and guidance as you work your way through the necessary grief recovery action steps. 2) Check out any support groups in your area. This will help eliminate the feeling that you are alone and will normalize your recovery experience.

3) Sometimes local groups are not available. Not to worry because online Grief Support Networks are plentiful. Just do a search for "Grief Support Online" and numerous choices will be available to you. Again, the main benefit is community and a sense of belonging. There is no need to go through grief alone or suffer for an extended period of time. Share your story with others and listen to theirs. This helps you both. 4) If necessary see a therapist. Some of your early experiences may be too overwhelming or confusing. See an expert. He or she will help you get on track with a tailor made grief recovery program.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Managing Bereavement II


Managing Bereavement
by Maurice Turmel PhD

Bereavement has a definite beginning but no predictable end. How you manage your bereavement recovery will determine how long it takes to regain your former composure. Avoiding, or repressing the feelings of sadness and the need to cry will sabotage your recovery efforts.

A good recovery program for bereavement requires that you face and accept uncomfortable feelings. Following such a plan will shorten the bereavement time period. What we mean here is that a well laid out approach will net results in weeks, or just a few short months. In this day and age, bereavement recovery should never be measured in years.

I instructed my clients to read specified material and journal about their feelings as we proceeded with their bereavement recovery. These assignments were to be completed between meetings because the importance of work done outside the consulting room needed to be emphasized. Clients would complete their homework and report at the next session. Taking responsibility for their feelings grew in proportion to this work and was spurred on by a noticeable diminishment in pain.

My bereavement recovery program came out of these experiences. After hundreds of cases of grief, loss and bereavement, I noticed a particular group of strategies began to emerge as essential to the recovery process. Taking these lessons and adapting them to mythical stories and poetry, along with the more literal instructions, helped drive the lessons home.

Supporting the written word with audio narration puts feeling into the words and helps reinforce many important points for bereavement sufferers. Most good books that aim to help individuals navigate this thorny emotional experience emerge this way. The writer's training and consulting experience helps extract the important themes from the client's experiences and turn them into a recovery program. Adding a poetic flair strengthens the impact of the narration and provides even better results.

Today we know more about grief recovery and bereavement than at any other time in our human evolution. Generations ago mythology served the purpose of guiding individuals through important life lessons by couching them into stories that were passed along verbatim. Every culture had them and every period of our human history reveals their presence. Todays psychology was yesterdays mythology and actually rests on that foundation.

Even in mythology, it becomes clear that a feeling based approach to bereavement recovery is the treatment of choice. With today's understanding of emotional dynamics, defense mechanisms and other survival strategies the point is driven home. A heart-centered and feeling based approach will deliver the best results in the shortest amount of time. The debilitating effects of grieving and bereavement can be turned around in a few short weeks.

Stories, poems, reflections and music selections are designed to put you in touch with your feelings. As each piece is read, listened to and digested, you are ready to start journaling and put those feelings down on paper. This is where grief recovery begins in earnest.

Your heart, your feelings, and your growing self-awareness are the keys to helping you heal your broken heart. You will travel this path with significantly less stress as a result of this detailed approach. No, it's not easy, but it is a journey that can be won. Many have done so using these strategies and so can You!

http://www.wordbranch.com/store/p71/When_Angels_Call.html

Monday, May 11, 2009

Working Through Your Grief Recovery


Working through your grief recovery is a fairly straightforward process once you understand the process involved. There are specific actions you can take to counteract the physical and emotional upheaval you are experiencing as a result of your losing a loved one. A variety of grief recovery methods are available and worthy of consideration.

Shock and disorientation are the first experiences we encounter upon hearing about the death of a loved one. This is the way our body and mind typically react to news of a personal tragedy. We find it difficult at first to absorb and accept the reality of this tragic news.

A sense of disorganization may persist until the reality of this tragic situation sinks in. We proceed in a dreamlike state through the funeral arrangements, the influx of family and friends, and the inevitable post burial let down. Our feelings and emotions are kept at bay until we complete these practical necessities.

Grief recovery begins after the family has left and we've made significant headway with our acceptance of the loss. Anxiety, depression and similar raw emotions that we previously contained are now allowed to surface. Once we are alone with our thoughts, feelings and reactions our grief recovery looms as a necessity.

Thoughts and feelings associated with losing a loved one make their way into awareness and begin pressing for attention. If we have some experience dealing with feelings, then the experience we are being exposed to may be easier to navigate. If this is our first tragedy then our grief recovery will be complicated by the confusion and disorientation that struck us at first and is now laden with these powerful emotions.

Medical help is a good option for our grief recovery in the short term. The effects of sleep deprivation, overwhelming anxiety or deep depression can be mitigated by physician prescribed medications. Your mind, body and emotions have received a severe shock and will benefit from this intervention and help you settle down.

Over the long term, additional grief recovery options worth considering may include joing a support group, seeing a therapist and acquiring helpful books and audio resources. If you feel strong enough in the face of this tragedy then a good book resource may be all that is required.

Books and audio resources usually include a description of the grieving process and an outline of the stages you are likely to encounter. The better resources provide a step by step program for dealing with your emotions which always reveal the strongest effects due to a recent loss. A grief recovery program that focuses on your emotions and feelings will deliver the greatest benefit in the shortest amount of time.

Grieving individuals often appreciate poetry and music as an accompaniment to their grieving process and healing measures. A good grief recovery resource will address all of these dimensions while helping you focus on your feelings and emotions. With the right tools and your determination to heal your grief recovery can proceed in short order, by which we mean weeks, or a few short months - but not years.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Grief Counseling



When I was in private practice I saw a lot of individuals who were grieving the loss of a loved one, whether that was a child, a spouse, a parent or a close friend. On a few occasions I saw couples where one of them had been diagnosed with a terminal condition and had less than 6 months to live. These situations were particularly traumatic for the persons involved, especially for the spouse who was not ill.

With these couples, we would discuss what was happening and how each of them was dealing with their feelings. The diagnosed partner seemed to have the easier time, having accepted their illness and the eventual fatal consequence. I saw this in my own family with my now departed brother-in-law and my sister. It was always the surviving partner who had the most difficulty.

With counselling of any sort, the goal is to LISTEN! Not just the hear the words an individual was speaking, but to identify the Feelings behind them. When I would reflecte back to the individual I always began with “sounds like you’re feeling – sad, angry, scared, anxious, depressed – whatever it was they were conveying. I would then ask them to check “in” to see if what I said was accurate. It usually was.

Then I would instruct them to pay attention to that particular feeling and tell me more about it. They would then describe their feelings in detail along with whatever physical reactions might be attached to it. Tears would begin to flow as they related the physical and emotional reactions they were experiencing.

This was the essence of my counselling approach for persons in grief, no matter what the precipitating circumstances. Sometimes they would want to know about “Stages” and other catch phrases associated with grief and loss, and I would just steer them back to their feelings. Once they realized that this was more important, it became easier for them to go there themselves and accept that crying and sharing were in their best interest.

For some individuals it would take a few sessions to get them acquainted with this feeling approach, but eventually they got it. And working with their feelings through their period of grief became OK. Many of these individuals would later report that keeping in touch with their feelings had many advantages and helped them with other aspects of their life. Lesson learned! Being in touch with your feelings is essential to a healthy life.

Our society is geared toward Externals, like stages, graphs, charts, outlines and theories. Good counselling focuses on Internals – feelings, emotions and physical reactions. In other words, counselling focuses on “The Heart” where we feel our life and where emotional healing takes place. Once an individual is properly focused they can take it from there. A few tools like Journaling, Writing Letters to your lost loved one, listening to favourite music and poetry will put you in touch with Your Heart. You can now heal because you are listening to YOUR HEART!

"When Angels Call" is a counselling companion designed to put you in touch with your feelings. Since the experience of grief and bereavement is so intense, you’re almost already there. Just a little push and the right resource book and you’re on your way. For most of us, all we need is Permission to Feel. Our heart and soul will take it from there because we have engaged the body and heart’s own innate healing process.

Trying to apply Externals to an internal problem is futile. It only serves to distract us from the real issue which our feelings will gladly tell us about. Thankfully, counselling and audio ebooks like How to Cope with Grief and Loss will re-acquaint you with your feeling nature and guide you through the process of grief recovery.

You now have what you need to heal your grief. You will recover from this tragedy and great loss. You will become intimately acquainted with your Heart and Feeling Centre. You will come to a point where you can think about your loved one and smile. Because when the hurt is finally healed, what remains with you forever is the love you carry in your heart. To quote Martha Stewart “And that’s a good thing.”

http://www.wordbranch.com/store/p71/When_Angels_Call.html

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me
A few years ago a woman was killed in an auto accident. She was very well liked, so the office shut down for her funeral.On the day the workers came back to work, they found this poem in their e-mail that the deceased woman had sent on Friday before she left work to go home. Happy to share this piece here.

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me
"If tomorrow starts without me And I'm not there to see, If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me.
I wish so much you wouldn't cry the way you did today, While thinking of the many things We didn't get to say.
I know how much you love me As much as I love you, And each time that you think of me I know you'll miss me too.
But when tomorrow starts without me Please try to understand, that an angel came and called my name And took me by the hand.
And said my place was ready In heaven far above, And that I'd have to leave behind all those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away A tear fell from my eye, For all my life, I'd always thought I didn't want to die.
I had so much to live for So much left yet to do, it seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays The good ones and the bad, I thought of all that we shared And all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday Just even for a while, I'd say good-bye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized That this could never be, For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things I might miss some tomorrow, I thought of you, and when I did My heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through heaven's gates I felt so much at home, When God looked down and smiled at me From His great golden throne.
He said, "This is eternity, And all I've promised you." Today your life on earth is past, but here life starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow But today will always last, and since each day is the same way There's no longing for the past.
So when tomorrow starts without me don't think we're far apart, For every time you think of me I'm right here, in your heart."


Send this to all those you care about because you never know what's going to happen tomorrow Show them how you care, before it's too late.
May God watch over you and your family now and always. There is no right time to do the wrong thing, there is no wrong time to tell someone you care.

THANKS TO SHIRLEY WHO LOST HER DAUGHTER IN 2006

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bereavement Help I



Bereavement Help I

The experience of bereavement is where you come to after the loss of a loved one has begun to work its way through your emotional landscape. Bereavement Help is about choosing resources to help you heal and recover from this emotional trauma.

You will feel lost for a time. This person who has passed on and left your world represented something important to you. You not only lost them, but a part of yourself as well. Bereavement Help is what you need now to assist you in facing these difficulties, this being essential to your healing.

Bereavement Help in the form of counseling focuses on this aspect of loss where your emotions are in a heightened state and your mental acuity is low. Depression emerges here, because it is the main consequence associated with loss. But so can anxiety and other uncomfortable feelings. The initial stages often include trauma and confusion which are completely normal given the circumstances. Depression, anxiety and feelings of loss come along later and they will be the focus of your grief recovery.

If you need medication, see your family doctor and she or he will help you with that. There is no shame in utilizing this type of help. The loss of a loved one is such a shock that initially at least, medication for sleeping and calming you becomes quite necessary. Bereavement Help includes medications as part of an overall strategy to help you recover. All of these emotional and feeling reactions are part of the grieving process and you need to be kind to yourself right now. Give yourself whatever Bereavement Help you require.

The Bereavement Process is like an illness. It has an onset, middle period and end. When you're first thrust into it, you can't fight back, much as you'd like to try. Your mind reels with possibilities but cannot control your emotional reactions. Bereavement Help is required to calm you down and help you heal the hurt that accompanies a major loss.

In bereavement, circumstances beyond your control surround you with their dark eerie glow and keep you stuck in that traumatized emotional state. No amount of willpower or mental acuity will undo that. And you'll only beat yourself up every time you try and repeatedly fail.

After the Bereavement Process starts to wind down, you'll come back to yourself in better form. All of the Bereavement Help Resources that you have utilized will bring you there. Trying to tough this experience out will only keep you stuck and that can last for years. Use books like "How to Cope with Grief and Loss" as a guide and see to it that you get all the bereavement help that you need.

Bereavement Help and Counseling, in whatever forms you choose, will assist you throughout this process. Think of Bereavement Help as Medication for your Soul. Just add Love and you'll be on your way again. Here are some links to help you focus on specific types of grief and loss.

http://www.wordbranch.com/store/p71/When_Angels_Call.html