Do Not Fall for These 11 Myths About Grief

MYTH # 1:

Grief is a negative experience which must be gotten over quickly. Life must go on. Truth: Grief is a normal, appropriate reaction to loss. Grief gives the individual time to do self-evaluation and to reconcile themselves to the change in the relationship with the person who has died. The only way to get through grief is to experience and cope with it. Embracing grief and its painful emotions leads to healing. In grief and loss, emotions are neither good nor bad. They just exist.

MYTH # 2:

Grievers are best left alone to grieve. Truth: Occasional solitude can be helpful for mourners. To be alone with your thoughts now and then can be helpful. Mourners need opportunities to share their memories and receive comfort from others. Community and support systems play an important part in a healthy grief journey.

MYTH # 3:

Giving into grief and its emotions shows weakness, a lack of faith or spiritual strength. Truth: All people, whatever their religious or spiritual beliefs or practices, experience grief at the loss of a valued loved one. Spiritual and religious beliefs can be a comfort and can provide additional resources to ease mourning, but they cannot eliminate completely grief or the pain of loss.

MYTH # 4:

Grief is a predictable process and takes place in successive stages. Truth: Although common emotions and grief tasks toward healing are experienced by all mourners. grief is not a linear, predictable process. Grief is a progressive, individualized journey to healing.

The often cited grief stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance have led mourners and many caregivers to think of grief as following a set pattern or predictable steps that must be followed exactly toward healing. These stages were developed by Dr. Elisabeth Kubhler-Ross, a death education pioneer, originally as five stages experienced by dying patients. Although mourners go through similar experiences in grief, there is no one blueprint or map for the path through grief.

MYTH # 5:

Grief can finally end. Truth: Time gives people an opportunity to heal and to learn new coping skills, but the process and pain of grief can last a life time. The good news is that the intense mourning period immediately following the loss does not have to last a lifetime. Grief and the mourner change over time.

The closeness of the relationship with the person lost determines the difficulty of the grieving process. We grieve for lost loved ones in direct proportion to the love and emotional investment we have in our relationship with them.

MYTH # 6:

Individuals must grieve in appropriate ways and places. Truth: When I hear this myth I think people are actually advising mourners to grieve as quietly as possible and far away from them. Sometimes the “comforters” surrounding the mourner are uncomfortable with outward signs of grief.   “Comforters” are many times pained at seeing mourners hurt and at a loss for what to do. Out of their discomfort with the mourner, they may suggest that more appropriate grief expressions and places might work out better.

Often grief and its accompanying emotions are uncontrollable and demand to be expressed. Mourners are advised to grieve in places where they feel safe and with people who make them feel comfortable and supported.

MYTH # 7:

Grief is an emotional reaction. Truth: Grief is a process involving the entire person. Therefore, grief has physical, emotional, spiritual and social aspects. Mourning meets deep needs of the person in all these areas. It is exhausting work demanding the full resources of the mourner.

MYTH # 8:

Grievers must “let go” or “detach” from their lost loved one. Truth: Mourners cannot let go of the people they love. They can learn to accept the reality of the death, its impact on their lives and the loss of their relationship with the loved one as it was. They can maintain a loving, healthy and healing relationship with the one who died.

MYTH # 9:

Only family members and close friends grieve. Truth: Everyone who feels an attachment to the deceased experiences loss.

MYTH # 10: People just grieve loss caused by deaths. Truth: All losses are grieved. In fact, we spend our a good portion of our lives mourning what psychologists call “small deaths,” losses caused by crises and life changes.

MYTH # 11:

Loss is a perfect opportunity to teach important lessons about life and death, sin and punishment, faith and eternal rewards. Truth: Loss provides us an opportunity to minister to people’s most intimate needs. A mourner can always learn throughout the grief process, but a good lesson about life and death is not what they most often need initially. In their darkest times of grief, mourners need support, encouragement, comfort and hope.

Compiled by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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10 Ways to Cope with Loneliness

Know that Loneliness is a State of Mind, Not a Life Sentence

Loneliness is depression resulting from an inability to cope with the fact of life that this side of heaven every one of us has times when our yearnings to be heard and understood and appreciated by another human are not met.

Realizing the loneliness is normal and accepting the fact that you can’t feel love and fulfilled all the time, can make periods of loneliness more tolerable.

Learn How to Like Yourself

It is usual for people who dislike themselves to wrongly imagine that other people will also dislike them. Expecting to be disliked and rejected, they tend to withdraw from people, thus perpetuating their loneliness.

Work to break the bondage of chronic loneliness by remembering your worth is not found in the perception of others but in your Heavenly Father’s unending love for you.

Avoid Dependency on Another Human for Your Own Happiness

To put responsibility for your happiness in someone else’s hand is a scary thought, unless that person happens to be always available, never fails, never changing yet never boring, all-wise, all-powerful, immortal, and is always unselfishly devoted to maximizing your long-term happiness. People, not matter how well intentioned and loving they are, can disappoint and fail to meet our every need.

Much of the pain of loneliness is nothing more than pining for things that only God can ever give. Hoping to find these qualities in a human, rather than in God, is like hoping to find refreshment in a mirage.

Instead of craving for substitutes, go for your best and always faithful friend, God.

Exercise & Take Care of Yourself

A good, brisk walk several times a week can be surprisingly effective in picking up your spirits and making your world a whole lot brighter. It produces chemicals in the body which are natural antidepressants.

Fake It Until You Make It

No matter how unhappy you are, the very act of smiling triggers the brain to release chemicals that make you feel better. A smile also brightens your face, improving your looks better than almost any makeover. Moreover, smiling is a magnet that attracts people to you.

People instinctively sidestep a person whose unsmiling face suggests he or she might be grumpy or angry or preoccupied. It makes them wary, heightening their own fear of rejection.

Maximize the Advantages of Solitude

Even Jesus needed time alone. Follow His example and make the most of your time alone. Make it time for you to exercise your spiritual disciplines and as devotional time spent praying to and listening to Lord.

Avoid the “Poor me” Syndrome

It is alright to feel lonely. We were divinely created with a need for human companionship that can be satisfied by nothing else. Just as God could miraculously eliminate our need for oxygen, he could eliminate our need for human companionship, but he rarely does, because we can bring eternal glory to ourselves by the way we respond to this longing.

Use your loneliness as a motivation to serve others in a ministry that gives God the glory.

Focus on Giving, not Receiving

In our desperation to fill the emptiness inside us we can fall into the hole of subconsciously becoming obsessed with our needs and discounting the needs of those around us. Be like Jesus who looked with deep compassion upon the crowds who thronged to Him.

We reap what we sow. So seek to give to others what you would like someone special to give to you. It is in giving that you receive.

Don’t Give in to Desperation

It is terrifyingly easy to sell your soul in a crazed attempt to find a quick fix for loneliness. Your actions decide whether loneliness leads to honor or shame. To become entangled in unwise relationships is to sentence oneself to life-long regret. Not only is loneliness a test of character, it is a challenge in which there could be no higher stakes.

Act in haste and you could move from temporary loneliness to permanent remorse. Take time, pray and let God lead you into relationships that will be meaningful, fulfilling and productive.

Turn Being Alone into a Blessing

Let God use your life situation to shape you into the image of his Son (Romans 8:28). All that happens to us, good and bad, God can use for good and to His glory.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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How Your Words Can Complicate My Grief

Thank you for trying to help me during my grief.  I need to let you know some things you do and say that can make my grief harder for me:

  • When you tell me to be strong in my grief and stop crying, I worry that my grief makes me look weak to others. The truth is that it takes courage to face the reality of loss and to express my emotions in healthy, appropriate and constructive ways.
  • When you tell me that I need to get busy and get my mind off my loss, you make me feel like grief is something bad to be avoided. The truth is I need to process the loss in healthy ways and move toward healing.
  • When you tell me to quit talking about my grief because no one wants to hear about it, I become reluctant to share my thoughts or feelings with anyone. I don’t want to burden other people or make them feel uncomfortable with my grief. The truth is I need to review my loss and how it has impacted my life in order to pick up the pieces of my life and move on.  Telling my grief story is therapeutic for me.
  • When you tell me you thought I would be doing better or be over my grief by now, I feel guilty and that something may be terribly wrong with me.   The truth is that grief is a natural response to the loss of someone significant in life. Grief cannot be rushed through. Grief is a process, not an event.
  • When you tell me that if I had more faith that I wouldn’t struggle with grief so much, you add to my guilt and stress. Part of that stress may be a concern that I and my grief are not pleasing to God. The truth is that no matter what you believe or how strongly you believe it, you are not exempt from the grief experience and all its emotions.
  • When you tell me that I should be happy that my loved one is in a better place or that they are no longer suffering, you make me feel selfish for missing them. The truth is I can be happy for them and sad for myself at the same time. The truth is simply I long to be in my loved one’s presence.
  • When you tell me that life must go on, you make me feel resentful toward you and life. The truth is that I am going on with my life in the best way I know how. What more do you and life want out of me?
  • When you tell me that I need to forget my loved ones and leave them in the past, I feel like you’re asking me to act as if they never existed and their lives weren’t important. The truth is my grief is because of my ongoing love for them and their value to me. All the grief emotions I experience and all the mourning behavior I display are in honor of their meaningful lives.
  • When you tell me that all things happen for a reason or that the death is God’s will, you make me question my grief, my life, my spirituality and my sanity. The truth is that you or any other human being cannot provide me or any other mourner with the answers to questions that come with a loved one’s death. You are simply saying something to make yourself feel comfort.

I know you mean well and that you want to help and support me in my grief.  I need you to quit trying to come up with answers to my questions.  I need you to talk less and listen more without judging or giving unsolicited advice.  I need you to let me know that you have heard me and are trying to understand me and my grief.  Quit trying to fix me and simply be there for me.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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Ten Tips for Reaching Out to Mourners on the July 4th Holiday Weekend

  1. When you think about them, immediately email, text or call them to just say “Hi” and let them know you are there for them.
  2. Send a personal note of encouragement, comfort and support.
  3. Give them a meaningful gift that evokes special memories of their loved one.
  4. Share your favorite memories of their loved one.
  5. When you make your favorite July 4th meal, invite them over to eat or deliver them a meal.
  6. Offer to take them to a summer blockbuster movie or a concert.
  7. Invite them to Independence Day parades, celebrations and fireworks displays.
  8. Give a donation in honor of their loved one to a charity or cause they support.
  9. Let them know you are keeping them and their family in prayer.
  10. Assure them that they are free to share whatever emotion they experience.  You won’t judge what they say or feel.  You will just listen and share the moment. 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  Romans 12:15 NIV

Remember to not let your fear of saying or doing the wrong thing or intruding in the life of a mourner keep you from doing anything at all for them.  Mourners need you and others for support, encouragement and comfort.  They need to speak honestly and to be heard.  They need to know they have been heard and understood.  By being there for a mourning friend or family member, you can be a catalyst in the healing process.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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Why I Wrote “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope & Promise”

Why did I write the popular, faith-based grief survival guide Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope & Promise?  Here are the reasons that I felt this important book needed to be written:

  • I am convinced that the burden of grief can be changed and lightened by altering how mourners, caregivers and culture think about grief. I want mourners as much as realistically possible to have opportunities in their grief journey to be encouraged rather than discouraged.
  • I understand that grief is never easy. I also understand that with knowledge about the true nature and purpose of grief and with support, comfort, and encouragement from others, grief can become easier.
  • I have observed that long-held misunderstandings of grief by mourners, their caregivers and supporters, and the culture often create unnecessary complications for mourners in their grief and in their lives.
  • I wanted to share with others insights, knowledge and perspectives of grief which have proven to be helpful, encouraging and healing to a majority of those in grief. Most of all I wanted to share what I wished I had known about grief as I started my grief journey over nineteen years ago.
  • I take seriously the charge given to those who have experienced the comfort of God in the message of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
    All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside of us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort–we get a full measure of that, too.”
  • I want mourners to discover hope that they and their grief can change over time and the promise that they have available to them the resources to get through grief in healthy and healing ways.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.


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Mother’s Day for Grievers Can Be Painful

It would soon be Mother’s Day again, and I was dreading it.  I wasn’t dreading the day for myself, but for my children who had lost their mother Cindy and two-year-old sister Katie six years ago after a traffic accident.  Every Mother’s Day after my wife’s death had been shear torture for my family as in church services the congregation took out time from worship to honor the mothers attending the service.

I didn’t begrudge the families that special time honoring their mothers, but each Mother’s Day ceremony was just another reminder of the tremendous losses my family endured.  I knew it was a painful flashback to my wife’s sudden and tragic death.  But I still had my mother at the time, and I could only imagine how painful it was for my son and daughter as they watched a carefully crafted, loving collage of photos of other mothers and their children.  To make it worse, the barrage of pictures had a soundtrack of “sappy” music meant to evoke an emotional response.  My gut response was to grab my children and exit the church sanctuary, flee into the parking lot, load up the car and head for the shelter of our home, but I didn’t.   I just endured the experience.

Some Mother’s Days my family had just stayed at home to avoid the experience.  I was tempted to play hooky from church again, but one Sunday before Mother’s Day something in me told me that I needed to let the church leadership know how I and my children felt on Mother’s Day without our family’s mother.  Surely there were others who had lost their mother and felt the same way.  Maybe we could honor mothers in a different way that was less distressing for those mourning the loss of a mother.

I saw the minister walking to his office after the service, and I knew what I had to do.  I stopped him and asked if I could request a favor.  “This Sunday could we do something special for those who don’t have their mothers with them anymore?” I asked.

The minister’s face softened as he said, “Well, I don’t know, Larry.  Let me talk with the staff and see what we can do.”  The minister knew our story because he had spoken at Cindy and Katie’s double funeral

I walked away feeling relieved that I had let someone know how I felt.  Maybe things would change, and maybe they wouldn’t.  At least I had made my needs known.

On Mother’s Day much to my dismay the traditional collage of pictures of mothers and children and the “sappy” music began.  I have to admit that I was disappointed.  The usual painful feelings and the hurt for my children returned.  Maybe I had not given the minister and the church staff enough lead time to make a change in how we observed Mother’s Day.  The pictures and the music seemed to go on forever.

Then the pictures and music stopped.  Before my family could get seated, the minister stepped up to the pulpit and said, “Now I would like to ask all those of you who no longer have your mother with you in this life to please stand as we say a prayer over you.”

“Dear Father God,” the minister said as we and others around the sanctuary remained standing. “We thank you for the blessings of mothers in our lives.  At this time though we pray a special blessing and care for those standing now who no longer have their mothers in their lives…..”

As I began to cry, my knees buckled, but I made an extra special effort to remain standing in honor of my children’s mother and my wife.

The minister continued, “Be with them today and watch over them.  Let them remember the wonderful gifts that their loving, sacrificing mothers have given them.  Fill their hearts with gratitude for their mother as they review the special memories of their mother’s life.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.”

I looked through tears at my children with their heads bowed in prayer, and I thought how proud their mother must be of them.  That was the best Mother’s Day ever.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  and the Spanish version “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble . Also available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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Over Twenty Years…And Still Grieving?

Over twenty years ago!  I can’t believe that this month May 2015 marks the 22nd anniversary of the deaths of my 37-year-old wife Cindy and my two-year-old adopted daughter Katie.  Twenty two years!  That’s nine years longer than the 13 years Cindy and I were married before her death.  They have both been gone from my life much longer than they were in my life.

I cannot believe that 22 years have passed.  And I cannot believe still that they actually died.  Along the way the time often has seemed like an eternity.  At other times during the grief journey it has felt to me like the losses had just taken place.  That is the strange, warped time perception that exists in grief.

Have I progressed?  Have I healed?  Am I where I’m supposed to be in my grief journey?  I don’t know.  Grief has been a part of my life for so long it is almost hard to imagine what it was like before that day – May 15, 1993 – when a multi-car  accident in Arlington Texas changed my life and my family so drastically.  Sometimes I wonder if grief hasn’t become too familiar to me.

Things continue to change drastically in my life and for my family but at a much slower pace now.  My children, Christian and Sarah, are mature adults living lives successfully on their own.  That’s as it should be.  I am proud of them and what they have become.  I am now a grief counselor and minister, two professions that I probably never would’ve chosen had the accident and the deaths not occurred.  Well-wishers and encouragers have told me that I am so blessed that God has made it possible for me to have a ministry to those struggling in grief.  I am blessed, and I thank God for my blessings every day.  But deep in my heart I know that I would gladly trade this ministry to have my wife Cindy and my daughter Katie back with me physically.

Just like every other mourner I have to learn to accept the reality of the deaths and my losses that my soul and my heart continually cry out in denial and protest over…even after 22 years.  I have accepted my new reality, but I still don’t have to like it.  Does that make me pathological in my grief?  Does that mean I am abnormal and suffering with complications that need professional help?  I don’t think so, but sometimes when I’m very tired and had enough of the grief, I wonder.

Grief is the overwhelming love for a person no longer physically present.  Mourning in healthy ways after the deaths of loved ones honors their valuable lives.  I never want to stop remembering, honoring and loving my wife Cindy and my daughter Katie.  Therefore the overwhelming love in my heart for them even in their absence must be expressed.  That overwhelming love comes out in my continuing grief.

22 years this May 15th. This anniversary is a milestone I would much rather forget.  But it is a milestone that helps to remind me of how far my family and I have come.  This twentieth anniversary is also a milestone that helps me to remember, to honor and to mourn the loss of two valuable people.  Please believe me that as much as I hate my grief journey, I know that my grief and my life well lived are the best monuments I can build to my wife and daughter.

I pray that God will continue to bless me and my family as long as the grief journey continues.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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Tips for Who Should Be In Your Grief Support System

Grief is never easy, but your grief can become easier if you find the right support, encouragement, comfort and knowledge.  You need a good support system to help supply you with the help you need. You should not isolate or try to do grief all by yourself.

How do you find the right people for your support system?  The answer is in identifying and securing for yourself supporters and grief mentors – people with whom you can share your grief experiences, thoughts and feelings.  Supporters are people who can give you time, care and support. Grief mentors are those who have experienced death and grief in their lives and can be a source of encouragement, support, care and knowledge for you in your grief journey.

What should you look for candidates for your support system?

    • People who make you feel safe, comfortable and cared for.  You want to make sure these people can keep your personal information confidential.  Avoid anyone who you know likes to gossip. Find people you can trust.
    • People who are good listeners. You will not want to be with people who are judgmental or prone to give unsolicited advice. Spend as little time as possible with those people who tell you what to do. It’s okay to take advice, but don’t let people try to direct you or tell you that you are grieving in the wrong way. You want to find people who will care about what you say, think and feel. You want people who will hear you and let you know you have been heard and understood.
    • People who don’t immediately resort to trite clichés, inspirational quotes and scripture. Let your friends, family members and grief mentors know what you need and what things are comforting or not comforting to you.
    • People who are stable and living life in healthy ways.  No person will have the perfect family, relationships, career and life.   Look for someone who seems to be successful in living and enjoying their life.
    • People who have been a help to you or others.  Pick people who always seem to think about others first and don’t need the spotlight to be on them all the time.  Avoid the person who turns your discussions into his or her own grief processing session.  You also want to avoid the person who seems to always be saying they have had it worse in their grief or in their life.  If they are always comparing their grief to yours and not really listening, avoid them.
    • People who you admire and respect.
    • People who have not only knowledge but common sense.  People who you see make wise decisions.
    • People who are patient and understanding.
    • People who are warm, caring and would be willing to take a phone call from you anytime of the day or night.
    • People who can make you feel better just by being present.
    • Other mourners who are farther along in their grief journey than you are.  Ideally you want people who have at least one or more years of mourning under their belt. You can learn from their experience, example and mistakes.
    • Mourners who you feel may have a similar grief experience to yours.  (It is not necessary that they have the same exact type of loss or grief circumstances that you have experienced, but if they do, that would be helpful.)
  • What to Remember When Developing Your Support System:
  • Potential supporter or grief mentor who meets all of these qualifications is going to be a rare, special person indeed.  If you do find a person who meets all these qualifications, you will be very fortunate.
  • Don’t wear out anyone you pick as a supporter or grief mentor by monopolizing their time.  Don’t become clingy and overly dependent upon the person.  But at the same time, you do want people who have time to help you and that you can call on whenever you are in need.
  • The quality of your support system is more important than the quantity of people in your support system.
  • Keep contact names and information close by.

Who Can Be in Your Support System?

  • Family members
  • Church family members
  • Co-workers/Colleagues
  • Friends
  • Support group members
  • Helping professionals

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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How Am I Doing in My Grief?

You know you are getting better in grief when:

  • You move from survival mode to beginning to return to your life and hope for the future.
  • You quit letting grief just happen to you and decide to take a more proactive stance in how you mourn.
  • You move from anger, frustration and irritability toward adapting to your new reality.
  • Thoughts about your loved one bring you more comfort than sadness.
  • You not only accept help from others but you begin reaching out to others in grief or crisis.
  • You begin to see your grief and mourning as a way to honor your loved one’s life and to express your continuing love for them.
  • You move from constant emotional turmoil and being negative to enjoying life once again and being positive.
  • You understand you hurt yourself by dwelling on the past and all of your regrets and guilt about your relationship with your loved one. You work toward forgiving yourself.
  • You quit obsessing on what lies ahead for you and your children. You quit living in worries, fears and anxieties about things that may never happen.
  • You quit focusing on the death and how your loved one died and begin focusing on how they lived, the love you have for them and what they gave you that can never be taken away.
  • You let yourself have fun and enjoy life.
  • You begin to realize that you can and will survive the experience of grief.
  • You accept your loss story and use it to help you heal and to help other mourners.
  • You gain strength and encouragement knowing how you have moved through the changes of grief. This strength and encouragement gives you confidence for the changes that still lie ahead in your grief journey.
  • You accept that sadness and depression are a part of grief that will change over time.
  • You decide to quit taking yourself and life so seriously. You know your loved one would not want your life to be totally ruined because they died.
  • Your dread of holidays and special days becomes less and less.
  • You start focusing on the things in your life to be thankful for.
  • You decide to always remember your loved one in meaningful ways that will honor their valuable life.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Grief Support, Spiritual Health | 3 Comments

A Prayer for 2015

With the understanding that a Happy New Year begins with the changes we determine to make in ourselves, Dear God, in 2015 help us all:

  • To be open to new experiences with You,Your Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • To be open to learning something new from Scripture each time we read or hear it.
  • To have intimate “visits” and prayers with You throughout the day remembering that You are always present.
  • To live each minute in 2015 as if it is our last minute here.
  • To be intentional about our faith walk and have a plan on where we each want to be spiritually.
  • To be intentional about our relationships and have a plan for each for the future.
  • To always keep in mind where we are going and whom we are following.
  • To make a concerted effort to say only positive, encouraging statements to others.
  • To really want to treat others as we want others to treat us under the same circumstances.
  • To be mindful that each interaction with others creates memories and influence that can last forever. Help us to ask ourselves: How do we want to be remembered? How do we want to shape eternity for others and ourselves?
  • To be ready and willing to share our blessings with persons needing a blessing themselves.
  • To push pride aside and be ready and willing to accept blessings from others who want to share their blessings with us.
  • To be ready and willing to share our hope and faith with persons needing hope, support and encouragement.

In Christ’s name we ask this.

Amen

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Grief Support, Spiritual Health | 1 Comment