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Then and Now
Over one hundred years ago, during the Victorian era, death and grief were popular subjects for poems, songs and stories. Grieving was considered a natural and acceptable part of the culture. People in mourning wore black clothing and/or black arm bands, women wore black veils, and it was common to see a black wreath on the door of the home of a bereaved family, announcing publicly that this was a home of sorrow. Bereavement was conspicuous and there were very specific societal customs designed to support people during the mourning process.
However, during that same era, no person of breeding or gentility would ever openly mention sex! Even any reference to gender was carefully couched in delicate terminology. Arms and legs were referred to as "limbs" and they were covered almost completely. Any form of touching or even intimacy of language was carefully proscribed by the customs of the time. Sex was a taboo subject, and it was largely considered to be dirty, shameful, disgusting, and for most women, barely tolerable!
How different it is now--over one hundred years later! We have done a cultural 180 degree turn. Now, sex has become a subject (and a commodity) that is fair game for every movie and TV screen. It is generally exploited in newspapers and magazines and is commonly and widely used as a sales promotion gimmick.
On the other hand, grief and mourning have suddenly become the closeted issue. In many circles it is not considered polite or in good taste to forthrightly mention the sadness caused by death. Well-mannered bereaved people are expected to keep their pain private and silent. Sometimes, even employment is endangered by any visible sign of emotion.
But both of these conditions--sex and death--are normal, natural parts of the human experience, and, ironically, they are both connected to love. In a truly healthy society, neither sex nor death should be subjects that we ought to fear or loathe or avoid.
It would seem that our current preoccupation with aberrant, bizarre and overabundant sex might be a backlash effect of the hush-hush of the Victorian era. Whenever we create an aura of "forbidden fruit" around any phenomena, we often give it an appealing mystery that makes it more intriguing to investigate in somewhat less healthy ways. When the bans are lifted (as they were for sex in our country in the late 1960s), all cautions can often be thrown aside in favor of an almost insane overreaction.
Unless we liberate mourning from its current place of hiding and unacceptability, we are in danger of having a similar backlash of bizarre proportions in the next ten or twenty years. Sometime in the twenty-first century, grieving could possibly acquire some amazingly out-of-control rituals.
We need to declare our own freedom from the restraints concerning dying and grieving that have been placed on us by a frightened and cobbled society. Let us kindly, but firmly, declare our rights to feel and express our pain in ways that are healthy and open. With that right, of course, comes the responsibility to do no harm either to others or to ourselves.
With kindness and a "do-no-harm" attitude, we can take a firm stand on the solid ground of our rights. We can cry, speak about our losses if we want to, verbalize our memories, safely express our anger and frustrations, withdraw for awhile, be confused and disoriented, solicit and expect help and support, and (maybe most important of all) make no apologies for our condition. We need never crumble under the criticism of those who have not walked in our sandals.
The number is legion of well-meaning caregivers who appoint themselves experts in determining what is "best" for us, so we need to claim for ourselves the basic freedom to trust and follow our own instincts and to disentangle our emotions from their benevolent chains. We have the right to gently explain to them that we've been where they are, but they have not been where we are. We don't even expect them to understand us, but we what do expect-even require-is that they take our word for it when we tell them how it is.
Good Grief Resources (http://www.goodgriefresources.com) was conceived and founded by Andrea Gambill whose 17-year-old daughter died in 1976. In 1977, she founded one of the earliest chapters of The Compassionate Friends, an international bereaved-parent support group. In 1987, she founded and edited Bereavement magazine, and in 2000, she joined Centering Corporation as Editor of their new magazine, Grief Digest. Twenty eight years of experience in grief support has provided valuable insights into the unique needs of the bereaved and their caregivers and wide access to many excellent resources.
Present Moment Awareness: Lessons From My Dog
I've always waited for the perfect moment to be happy: As though time were a flower waiting to bloom. My scruffy puppy-happy senior dog knows better. Watching his tail wag as he stands in the middle of a mud puddle, I now understand that happiness is where your heart is, not just where your legs travel.
Suicide is a nightmare for survivors of loved ones. Death in itself is hard to cope with but when someone you love intentionally takes their life, this pain is somehow multiplied many times over. Your mind races with unanswered questions and your heart pounds in shock ? then it hits you. They are GONE, taken from this earth by their own actions, and there is nothing you can do to get them back.
How to Deal with Suicide and Euthenasia
The following is a report that indicates how you might recognize suicidals, and how you might deal with them. But a warning: Suicide can be a very complex issue, and it might be better to have a professional deal with this issue if it comes up, but if this is very difficult to attain, this guide is a very good alternative to follow if you have no other solution to the problem.
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Justin was a typical ten year old boy. He liked Leggos, trains, and watching TV. He had red hair, freckles, and a huge smile. Justin was a great kid and everybody loved him. Because of cancer, he didn't live to see his eleventh birthday. His mom Mary, who had watched him suffer for months, held her son in her arms when he died. Every day, for the last two years, she has lived with the grief of her loss and the memories of Justin's suffering.
You Have to Show Up: On Small Miracles (Okay, maybe not so small)
I hadn't intended to go to my cousin's funeral.
Sending a floral tribute is a very appropriate way of expressing sympathy to a family who has experienced the loss of a loved one. Flowers express a feeling of life and beauty and offer much comfort to the family. A floral tribute can either be sent to a funeral service or to the family's residence. Here are some suggestions to assist you in sending sympathy flowers.
Made in Heaven
Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend - my Mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense; I found it hard to breathe at times.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1999 edition) defines empathy as:
October makes me think of Halloween, and Halloween makes me think of masks, and masks remind me that sometimes when we're grieving, we wear masks without even realizing it. We may never stop to think about how other people perceive our appearances, our images and our behaviors. Over time, we may gradually drift into a pattern of "being" that is so familiar to us we never realize that others might be seeing us in a totally different way.
Lessons We Learned From Terri Schiavo
Let's talk about Terry Schiavo, since her death illustrated for me many aspects of grief and hope. Who among us was not moved by the drama of her last days? I know I was. Her death was not the way I would want my own death to be. When my time comes, I want no heroic measures, since for me they simply postpone the inevitable. And watching the family feud that took place between her husband and her parents, with all the tension and the anger, saddened me terribly. Peace should be the last emotion Terry felt, but who knows if she heard only the angry words passed between those she loved. No one should have to die as she did.
We are the Reflection of our Lives: How to Survive Loss & Humility
Everyday, I look in the mirror to see the face staring back at me. Sometimes it is lined with stress, sorrow and grief. Other times, it simply smiles in humbled reservation. But the reflection of our lives... that, is who we are -- who we represent ourselves to be. For some, it is wearing hearts upon their sleeves; for others, their thoughts and words go unspoken forever.
Death, Close and Personal
I got an email recently from someone whose mother died. She knew I'd suffered the loss of my mother and wanted some insight on how to deal with it. Unfortunately for her, I had no advice...shit...I'm still dealing with it.
Pope John Paul II
WHAT I LEARNED FROM POPE JOHN PAUL II ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One Stray Tear
The delight lit my face as the couple turned the corner into the hallway where we stood in lively conversation. I threw my arms open wide, ignored the cell phones plastered to their ears, greeted each of them, first the husband then the wife who followed slightly behind him.
Are We All Losers? Understanding Grief
The well-known pioneer researcher Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five states through which the dying patient goes. It is also true that the recently bereaved and the about to be bereaved evidence the same stages. Kubler Ross has labeled the 5 stages denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People do not necessarily go through these stages in any set order or over a set length of time, nor does the individual necessarily pass through each of the stages. Most controversial is the final stage of acceptance. Kubler-Ross believes that all of us come to accept death as it approached, but other researchers do not agree. Westberg, for example believe, as do the writer, that we come to a point of living with the loss. Let's now review the 10 stages of grief as defined by Westberg. If you have or can access his tiny book entitled, Good Grief, it would help you to understand each stage in more depth than the writer will go.
Dying at Home ? A Precious Gift
Few of us care to think about the inevitability of our own demise. We except that we are not immortal, however for the most part, we are successful in putting thoughts of our own death from our mind. When those close to us die, we painfully become aware of the fragility of life and as we contemplate our own mortality, two things become very clear. 1. We do not want a painful death, and 2. We do not want to die in hospital.
Grief & Loss - Healing Your Broken Heart
What is it about Grief & Loss that upsets us so much? Is it the heavy duty emoting that we have to do to get through our suffering? Is it the fear we have about opening ourselves to all this pain? Because, let's face it, it's hard down there, in the land of grieving where all those emotions toss us around like a cork on a stormy sea.
Loss Involves Change - The Transformative Power of Loss and Change
There are many experiences in life, which remind us that change is an inevitable part of living. We then have to choose to either to resist this process or look for new ways of finding meaning in our lives. Losing a loved one to homicide, for example, is one of those changes that throw our lives into chaos and disarray. We are forced to see our world very differently, knowing that things will never be the same again. Our loss involves substantial change in every aspect of our lives.
How to Deal With A Death in the Family and Still Run Your Small Business
As a small business owner we have to deal with tax law changes, local ordinances, environmental laws, Worker's Compensation, etc. Just when we thought we had everything under control, something terrible happenes. A death in the family. Oh my God you say? What do I do now? Well since I have been there, let me tell you what you need to know.
During the two years of my husband's terminal illness, death was never far from my mind. We had been told he was dying and even a time in which it was supposed to happen. We had no idea of how it would happen. I was loathe to let him out of my sight incase he should suddenly die and not return to me and woke each day fearing that he may have died during the night. Towards the end of his illness I sensed that death was near, waiting in the shadows to steal my love from me and wrote the following poem.
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