Thanks 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
Five things to help with the grief many are feeling in the aftermath of the shootings: Turn off the media if it’s too much; do nice things for other people; take inventory of the good things in life; take care of yourself — exercise and good diet; pay attention to the kids in your life and listen when they want to talk — help them process the grief they might feel.
This photo and these tips come from a blogpost on Hello Grief on how to move through this recent tragedy. It’s important to take care of ourselves so the grief doesn’t get too big for us. Here’s what Alisha Krukowski recommends:
Put yourself on an immediate “news diet.” Make a conscious and implementable plan about your news intake. That may mean allowing yourself to check in briefly with the news once every two hours. Or perhaps you’ll decide that giving yourself one solid hour, and then no other news for the day is a better fit. Regardless of your specific decision, make a plan and commit to sticking to it. Let friends and family know, so they are able to respect and support your choice. Take note of how you feel after checking in with the news. If you find you feel worse than before you checked in, more reason to limit your news intake. Tragedy is not, and should not be a spectator sport.
Do something kind. It doesn’t matter what you do, but make a point to do something good or kind today, and each day as the crisis continues to unfold. Let someone ahead of you in traffic, leave a few extra dollars for your waitress, take your dog (and yourself) on an extra long walk. I’m betting you’ll feel better after doing something kind for someone else. There’s something inherently therapeutic about acts of kindness, which can help you to balance out the negative emotions you may find yourself inundated with in times of publicized sorrow.
Refrain from posting “news” of the events on facebook, twitter, etc. If you feel inclined to post about your feelings of sadness, your wishes for impacted families, or your thoughts on tragedy in general, that may be something to consider. But posting updates about the tragedy itself will likely not help you or others. The specifics are often irrelevant, since the facts remain the same: Something terrible happened. Innocent individuals were injured or killed. There will never, ever be any bit of information or any new development that will make any of this make sense.
Reach out to those you love, and tell them you love them. It sounds a little clichéd, I know, but have you ever felt anything other than good after sharing your feelings of love or friendship with people in your life? It’s an easy way to both offer support, and feel support yourself.
Ask for help if you need help. If the news of tragedy has left you feeling overwhelmed with grief, sadness, fear, or any other emotion, please seek immediate support. If you need a shoulder to cry on, call a friend or family member. If you feel that you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-8255 or go immediately to your local emergency room.
If you have children in your life, be mindful of what they may be seeing and hearing. Again, I am not a therapist, but it is always a good idea to ask your children what they are feeling, and how you can help them to process those feelings. They may have created some “truths” in their minds that are not accurate or helpful for them to be holding. Ask them what they have learned. If you have any concerns about how to support your child through tragic events, you should reach out to school or grief counselors, therapists, or other local support services.
Physically do something to help. This doesn’t mean you have to fly to the impacted areas. This means choosing to devote time, energy, or money to a cause that is close to your heart. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter, send money (even a few dollars) to an organization that speaks to you, or help to clean up litter at an underfunded playground or park. When you immerse yourself in something that is helping those in need, you may feel a sense of connection to people everywhere who are helping where help is needed. It’s a good feeling, and again, that can help to balance out some of the negative feelings.
I heard my daughter tell a friend, “Puzzles are the only holiday tradition we have.”
Wow, I suppose that’s true in a way. After her dad died in 2004, I have tried to make the holidays special each year, but haven’t found anything the sticks year after year except our ritual of buying new jigsaw puzzles, bringing out the card table, and setting up for evenings of puzzling. As we sat down the other night, I wondered about this tradition since our loss – the satisfaction of seeing the beautiful images unfold before our eyes as we fit the pieces together, a symbolic road map through grief. Michael’s death brought a sense of chaos and uncertainty to our lives — the pieces didn’t fit in the way they had. Not much about the holidays made sense to me, either. What got us through year after year was the patient step by step, trying and failing, trying again and succeeding, bringing a chaotic mess of little pieces into something organized. And now, I’d say that life does make sense. This year we picked easier puzzles and we’ve already completed two. I suppose the easy puzzles reflect that life is easier this holiday season. We are blessed to have each other and a tradition that has helped us through this difficult time of year.
My friend, Barbara Gilday, shared this on Facebook today. It reminds me that grief is so much a part of life and that it’s so important to reflect on the precious people and moments every day!
Life is so fragile and precious. A friend died this week, another friend has ALS, another 2 have breast cancer, one is in hospital with unknown cause of infection, and yet another lost his brother last week. My prayers and thoughts are with them all. Then there are their beloved family members left behind, or caretaking. Please love the caretakers. It is a soul draining job when it goes on and on, as it often does. Take them out for some fun, stay with the sick person so the caretaker can get out, listen, ask how you can help. We are all connected. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one gives relief, we all breathe easier. Love those who you have been given to love and reconcile with those that you are in tension with. Life is too short and holy to let the little things interfere – and most of them are little things, when you think of the big picture. Thanks for listening.
“Nothing is normal in grief and no two mourners are the same,” says an article republished on the Hello Grief website: The way we grieve now (Original article by Piper Wise).
Take a look at this article filled with stories of how different people have coped with their grief and created new relationships with those they have loved. It’s a good reminder that you get to mourn in your own way.
We asked people to tell us how they get through loss and grief, and here’s what a friend responded. I really appreciate his courage.
…our culture does not welcome expressions of either grief or mourning. Indeed, there tends to be an expectation that we should either put on a stoic face or “just get over it.” The process takes time. I feel the best and most difficult thing I can do during the holidays, or any other time, is to lean into what I’m feeling, i.e., feel what I feel when I feel it.
Grief and mourning comes in states and in waves—acknowledging and honoring those feelings is how I move those thick energies. Shutting down to them or closing them off only delays healing and prolongs suffering—it doesn’t lessen until it’s leaned into. Yep, there are times when the waves rise in places or situations where they cannot easily be acknowledged and honored (due to social normative expectations). In those cases, I’ve set aside what was coming up and then re-opened to them as soon as possible in a place that is safe and welcoming.
Also, honoring times of the year when losses occurred is very important to me. There are certain times of the year when memories rise for me—three times of the year in particular: 10/23 (1983 USMC bombing in Beirut), Vet’s Day, and Memorial Day. A lot of my friends were killed when I was in the service. Around those dates, I’m kind to myself. I take things off my plate; I allow time for myself and take better care of myself. These are quiet times for me—I take times out in stillness. And I also take time out for my old friends and occasionally have a good cry. Likewise, I watch out for depression—that’s a different kettle of fish. Again, it’s about leaning in rather than self-distracting.
I’m an experiential learner…what I’ve shared is how I learned to cope well with grief and mourning. It’s a process and it is a marvelous, albeit at times very painful, softening when we let what’s real come through—it’s through grief and mourning where I have softened the most. I have given and received incredible forgiveness, learned tremendous compassion and mercy for both myself and others, become a much kinder and gentler person, and much more…it does get better and the gifts that come are beyond words.