The aftermath of tragic death and how to be with each other

FootprintsInSandThis NY Times essay is a moving account of the aftermath of a teen’s suicide and the difficulty her mom had in going out in public afterward.

Here’s what one of her friends did — a good reminder for how to be with each other in grief: “Unexpectedly, I ran into Lin…I steel myself for her approach. But she neither avoids me, nor makes light conversation. Instead, she walks right up, looks me straight in the eyes, and gives me a very long, tight hug. Then she walks on. Not a word uttered. Nothing is required of me. I slowly exhale. I couldn’t have told Lin what I needed, but somehow, she has gotten it exactly right.”  Read more…

Neuroscience and grief — why companion animal loss triggers so much grief

Clara kittyLoss of a companion animal is a disenfranchised loss in our society. This essay makes some important points on why WinterSpring has a new support group for Companion Animal Loss.   Read about the science and emotion around grief triggered by the loss of a beloved animal.  Click here to get the article.

Our Children’s Program on the Front Page of the Mail Tribune

Photo courtesy of Jamie Lusch of the Mail Tribune.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Lusch of the Mail Tribune.

WinterSpring’s Children’s Program at Bellview School has been a wonderful experience for these kids.  Thanks to Sherry Nurre, our trained volunteer, for spearheading an additional program in Ashland.  We also have our ongoing program in Medford.  Call our office for more information about the programs coming up during the next school year: 541-552-0620.

Here’s a link to the article.

hellogrief photoThanks Alisha Krukowski for sharing this wonderful article about letting go into grief.

“When we try to “keep it together” for other people, or for ourselves, when all we really need to do is let go, and feel, and hurt, and crumble. We live in a strange society that honors the “strength” of grieving people who don’t cry, who are “brave,” who “move on.”  I’ve always felt in my heart of hearts that all of that was so wrong. So why did I fall for it myself when Mom died?” …more

(Photo courtesy of Hello Grief.)

Teen Grief: What to look for, what to do

Teen Grief Cues

  1. Difficulty with concentration, with a decrease in academic performance
  2. Body distress which include headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, and fluctuations in eating, eating disorders
  3. Acting out, including drug/alcohol use, risk-taking, promiscuity, uncontrolled emotions
  4. Wanting to be alone all the time  — isolated, sullen
  5. Increased irritability and anger
  6. Suicidal talk or behavior
  7. Anxiety, fear, panic, insecurity
  8. Lack of interest in usual activities
  9. Refusal to talk, or emotional withdrawal
  10. Becoming the “perfect” teen

Being with a Teen in Grief

  1. Establish a rapport – ask them questions about themselves to earn trust.
  2. Listen, care for and accept them as they are
  3. Acknowledge their loss, acknowledge that they are having a difficult time
  4. Assure them that what they are experiencing is normal
  5. Tell the truth, answer their questions honestly
  6. Expect the discussions to involve larger issues, not only the death or other loss
  7. Expect a range of emotions, sometimes shocking – accept their unique process
  8. Encourage them to participate in physical and creative activities that allow for expression of feeling and release of tension.
  9. Encourage peer group support, if available
  10. Remember that their families may be in turmoil and you might be the only stable influence in their life.

Resources:  The Dougy Center, The National Center for Grieving Children and Families, Alan Wofelt, Ph.D. and  Joseph A. Santiago