How to Face Grief and Loss

Facing Grief and Loss and
Putting Life’s Storms into Perspective

On a back to school shopping event with my daughter, we were drawn to display after display of beautiful pieces of costume jewelry. An elderly woman laden with packages passed by commenting on how tired she was feeling. She found a quiet spot to rest nearby, still holding her packages. I asked if she was alright or needed any help. She assured me she was fine, she just needed to rest. We continued to converse. The woman mentioned how thoughtful it was that I took the time to inquire of her well being. She said that I must not be from around here. I told her I lived 3 hours away in a neighboring state. As she spoke, I noticed some of her words and letters were not spoken clearly. Watching closely, I saw that she did not have any teeth. Her clothing was in good repair, but subtly stained, as if in need of being laundered. I admired a necklace with small charms from the display case. The woman was intrigued with the charm necklace and thought it would be perfect for me.

The next words she spoke caught me off guard. She asked me if I had ever been a victim of a house raid. She explained to me that everything she owned had been stolen. She had loved her porcelain doll collection that was now gone. Her brother was involved in drugs, and came into her house with his friends, and took all her possessions. She mentioned he had taken her dentures because she would not give him any money. She apologized to me for her appearance. Even though she had no teeth, and an empty house, she had a strong resolve. She was kind, grateful, and determined that her brother was not going to break her spirit. My heart went out to the small woman. I found myself watching her around the store as she moved on from her brief rest. The checkout lines were long. My daughter and I helped her get through the line so she was not struggling alone. Shortly thereafter, we headed our separate ways. I think of that sweet little woman often, especially when I wear the charm necklace I purchased that day. I have one regret however, I wish I would have asked the woman her name and contact information.

I tell this story because each of us weather various storms in our lives that affect our perspective. This can alter how we react to those experiences, and how we move forward. Our life’s encounters, as difficult and painful as they are at times help us to build resilience. We pray to find small rays of hope even in times of sadness. We may have to dig deep to find any hope, when there is little hope in front of us. Determination kicks in, and helps us keep trudging forward, so we can carry our emotional burdens.

Putting Life’s Storms into Perspective

Putting life’s storms into perspective is a conscious effort. When we are overcome with sadness or grief it can be difficult to continue the daily climb, and keep looking forward. Each of us have experienced a moment when it feels as if all hope is lost. How do we move past the grief and loss? How do we move forward again? Losing a loved one, a friend, facing a debilitating disease, divorce, or a job change, can tax the strongest hearts and minds. Even when carrying an umbrella, the storm is sometimes too strong and difficult to weather. What can be done to put the challenges into perspective?

Almost 20 years ago, I faced a storm in my own life. Being a strong person I had always believed I could handle whatever was thrown my way. I have learned to never assume. I was brought to my knees, facing a trial of loss that was numbing. A gray cloud settled over my life. I cried at the drop of a hat, and felt like I was wearing concrete shoes up a steep mountain path. Day after day, it felt like the sun would not shine again. Tackling the daily routine was a difficult feat.

The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm

I was inspired during that time to put pencil to paper and write. After months and months of writing, I wrote The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm. The story is about a wondrous tree that in a fierce storm loses a branch. The family who visited the tree, was very sad about the lost branch, so they come up with creative plan. They decide to build a swing with the broken branch, so the branch would be with the tree once more. The story’s message helped heal my heart. I was able to move forward again. My concrete shoes came off, I was not crying all the time, and it helped me by coping with loss.  It allowed me put the storm I was facing into perspective. I realized that life would not always stay exactly like I wanted it to stay. Change and loss are beyond our control. As difficult as my experience was, I had to force myself to rise above the grief. I needed to remain strong for those around me. So when life sends its storms, I now find my swing. In my swing I can sit and ponder, treasure great memories of those I love who have moved on, make future plans when my life needs direction, or just think about a sweet, elderly lady who touched my heart.

I have learned how important it is to not only put our own life’s storm’s into perspective, but to also be conscious of others who may be battling their own storm. In hind sight I always wished I would have given a copy of the book The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm to the woman in the store. Maybe it would have given her a moment of hope and inspiration. I hope each of you finds hope and promise in your future and can, in time, build your own swing.

The story The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm has won numerous awards. The message offers children and their families a sense of hope and promise for the future. In the aftermath of life’s storms the sun will continue to rise every day. Our perspective on life will in time find a ray of sunshine, that will chase gray clouds away, to give each of us hope for the future.

The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm can be purchased at www.lauriecopmann.com.  For more helpful information, use this link to learn more about the five stages of grief.

About Laurie Copmann, Author and Educator

Laurie Copmann is the principal of an elementary school. She has a Master’s degree in Administration and a Master’s degree in Counseling. She loves working with children and encouraging them to be confident individuals, excellent citizens, and to strive for high academic achievement. She writes stories for children in hopes of inspiring them to reach their potential, with the belief that anything is possible. Laurie lives in Idaho with her husband, two children and a dog named Tux the Terrible.

College Students Coping with Grief

Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief  and Loss

While Going Back to College

Most people who begin their grief journey want straight facts. They want to know such things as what to expect, how long will the grief and loss can last, etc. College students are no exception. However, college students are in a unique niche of No- Longer-a-Teenager but not quite considered an adult as they are not melded into the working world.  Should you need it, here are some quick tips to print off and give to a grieving college student.

1. Most people grieve anywhere from three to seven years. The five stages of grief can last approximately three years. Some people say that the second year of grief is harder than the first year of grief, but this is not always the case.

2. You may find yourself crying on and off for the next three years. Don’t try to fight the tears, rather let them flow. Tears are your body’s way of helping you cope with grief. Tears actually release chemicals into your system that help you feel better.

3. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to eat three meals a day. They don’t have to be huge and they should be “healthy for you” food. Try to limit the amount of sugar and empty calories you take into your body. Grieving is probably the hardest job you will every do. It is demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. Because of this high demand, your body needs energy that comes from solid healthy food. Cut out the caffeine if possible, limit the amount of alcohol you take into your system and drink as much water as you can get down a day. Think of this as if you were training for a really big physical event. (Like the Olympics!)

4. Talk, talk and talk some more. Typically, you are going to find that people want to talk to you and listen to you for the first few weeks and months. Then most people don’t know what to say, or don’t want to listen anymore–all for a host of reasons. You probably will get to the point where people ask you how you are doing and you will say ”I am fine”. Try to find people to talk to about your loss who are willing to listen. Talking does you a world of good.  Journaling is also a great tool. One of the services offered at Beyond Indigo contains a private journal no one can access except you.

5. Be aware that you will have to be the one educating people on how to help you while you are grieving. This is ironic since you are the one that needs the support, not the other way around but, nevertheless, this tends to be a fact in our society. We are not socialized to talk about death. We are socialized to talk about boyfriends, our future children, weddings, etc. but not death. Therefore, people have no clue what to say. They mean well and are trying, but they may say the things that are not helpful to you. It is okay to say something like, “Listen, I know you mean well and are trying to help, but telling me my father is in heaven doesn’t make me feel better. What makes me feel better is______.  (fill in the blank with how you feel, or what you would like to hear.)

6. Taking care of you during school will be a big task. Your life now is very different. You know this, however, other people may not. They may not understand how your world has changed dramatically. Focusing on schoolwork might be more difficult. Make sure to give yourself permission to change your study habits if you need to. It is okay if you don’t socialize like you did before. Figure out what little things help you during the day, such as a soothing bath at night, or listening to special music. Make sure to tell your professors of your loss. Especially be aware that you might need to explain to them that you might have trouble concentrating. There might be some arrangement that you can make to take tests on a different day if the scheduled day of testing proves to be too emotionally difficult for you. Teachers will understand if you tell them ahead of time.

7. It never hurts to find a therapist and receive some grief counseling on campus (or in town) who can be there to help monitor you through this time. You’ll need a therapist who will listen and give you ideas to put in your “tool box” to help you communicate with peers, to help you adjust to your family’s new roles with your loved one gone and to help you get through this year of school. Though you may feel you want a therapist that just listens and says, “Right, okay then, we will see you next week”, in the long run this will not be quite as helpful as a therapist that help you develop communication skills and action plans. If you go to a therapist and find that you do not “bond” with him/her or feel comfortable in his/her presence it is totally legit to terminate your sessions and seek another therapist that will feel like a comfortable “fit”.

8. If you are not sleeping at night you need to go see the doctor on campus or in town to help you sleep. Sleep is hugely important to keep up your strength.

Remember to take care of “you” first and then school and everything else will become easier to manage. Good luck on your new learning experience!

Are you looking for others with whom you can relate? Visit the Beyond Indigo forums to connect with others who are on their grief journeys.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |August 11th, 2010|Categories: Bereavement, Children and Death, five stages of grief, Grief, Grief and Loss, Grief Counseling, Grief Support|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on College Students Coping with Grief

Death, Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief

The Simplicity of Blessings

Death can make us aware of the importance of life. When a person is a funeral director, he or she is surrounded by death. Many believe that blessings can arise out of grief and loss. As a society, we most often focus on the negative aspects of death. At FuneralResources.com, we choose to focus on the positive aspects of death. Here are some things I have learned that might help you and your families:

Everyday Life: Grief often brings into focus our daily life that we assume will “always” be the same. What we might take for granted now can come into full bloom when contrasted with death. Our families, our loved ones and our health start taking on far more importance and they are treasured far more. Material concerns have a chance during a loss to take a second seat. We get back to basics and realize what we have is good. What a blessing.

Hidden Angels: People can be a blessing. As we walk through the five stages of grief, people come into our lives to help ease our pain. A member of Beyond Indigo wrote:

“One of the things I remember most about my horrible summer in hell were three people I met who were walking angels. Each of them, in their own way, made that summer bearable and is remembered now, after it has passed, as huge blessings. I’m actually glad I met them even though I met them only because of the situation, which was causing such grief.”

Look On The Bright Side: Things could be worse. As trite as it sounds, it is true. Life can always be worse. Looking at what occurred as a positive can bring new thoughts to the surface.

Another Beyond Indigo member wrote to us about her pregnancy. She was 21 weeks pregnant when her doctors told her that the baby would not survive the cyst that had become part of its little body.  She wrote, “Obviously, the RIGHT ending would have been for me to have a good, wonderful pregnancy that ended with a healthy baby. Wasn’t going to happen.  Options like having a kid with horrible life-affecting illnesses and handicaps, or having a stillbirth, or worst – not knowing and having to make a choice.  I ended up knowing what I had to do. I was able to end the pregnancy without wondering if I was making the right choice. That was a huge blessing.”

Opportunities: Death is permanent. Once a death occurs, it is hard to say,” I am sorry”, or, “I love you”. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to tell others that we love them or that we are sorry or how important they are in our lives. Take this blessing of time to let others in your life know how important they are to you. Do it now, and don’t wait.

Search: Search out others that have recently lost a loved one or acquaintance. Share your story, you thoughts, your feelings and your concerns and insights with them. Sharing, or volunteering to help someone else feel better will help you both.

Celebrate: Celebrate any occasion, any holiday or special event with a friend and share all the joys of the person lost. Remember well, and then go ahead and enjoy the day, the hour and the moment. NOW is what we all have.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.