You Can Be Your Own Grief Coach

I know what you’re thinking. I can be my own grief coach? Really? Now just hold on and let me tell you why not only can you be your own grief coach but it is necessary for you to be your own grief coach.  

First, believe it or not you are the expert on your specific grief. Why? Because you are the one experiencing your unique, one of a kind in all the universe grief. No two griefs are exactly alike because each grief is shaped primarily by the relationship the mourner had with his or her significant person who died. 

No one has the same exact relationship. No one feels exactly about your loved one as you did and still do. No one else misses or mourns for the person who died in the same exact way.  Therefore, my dear mourning friend YOU are the expert on your own grief.  But that doesn’t mean you are the only one who can understand your grief and you.  Let me tell you more. 

Because you are the expert on your grief, others who are willing to help you through your grief are dependent upon you to share the details of your feelings and experiences with them.  They are counting on you to educate them about all you experience in your loss so they can get you the help, support and comfort necessary to heal. Your helper may know the commonalities that exist in most grief but they need to know the details of your grief to help you. 

Second you need to be and can be your own grief coach because you have to be the one who believes in you and your potential to find a healthy way through grief. Others around you can work to help you and believe all day that you have the ability to get through your specific  grief. But if you don’t think you can get through grief, most likely you won’t. 

So…if you’re the expert on your own grief and you believe it is possible for you to get through your  grief, you have the ability to be your own grief coach starting the work of grief. 

You must be willing to initiate the work of finding  outside information and compassionate resources to help you navigate through your grief.  Grieving people tired of fighting  with grief and feeling overwhelmed by grief and its pain have been overcoming grief every day.  You can and should be your own grief coach. I hope you get started soon. 

But remember: you should not try to do grief all alone. You need others to be there as your listeners, cheerleaders and advisers.  And if you still think you want or need someone else to coach you through the process, seek out an experienced professional skilled in working with the bereaved. 

The first step in getting through grief in a healthy way is to reach out to others to let them know what you are experiencing and that you want to heal from your emotional wound of grief. 

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” 

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Post Death Dreams & Signs: Are They Real Or Imagined?

Many mourners I counsel go through periods of deep yearning to experience the closeness or presence of the loved one who died.  Some of them share with me unique experiences that cause them to feel that closeness or to receive what they perceive are messages from the deceased. 

The experiences they have shared with me fall into these types:

  • Dreams about or including their loved one. These dreams are as individualized as the unique grief of the mourner sharing them with me. Some are troubling dreams leaving the dreamer in emotional turmoil or full of questions. Some are comforting leaving the dreamer feeling they have received the gift of their loved one’s presence for one last time. 
  • Visitations by their loved one. Some mourners are able to describe detailed, very realistic physical post death visits by their loved ones. Often the visitation includes the message from the deceased that they are all right and not to worry about them. Others describe less visibly clear visits that are comforting but all too brief and often with no apparent purpose. 
  • Signs or messages from their loved one.  Other mourners tell stories of feeling the person’s presence or touch or smelling fragrances peculiar to the loved one like a cologne, aftershave or product they used. Other signs from the loved one reported can be finding objects or seeing animals connected with past experiences or memories of the loved one. 

Mourners ask me: 

  • Are these events real or am I just imagining them because I am obsessed with experiencing the loved one’s presence again? Of course I can’t tell them if the experiences were real or imagined. But does that really matter? Just accept these events or experiences as special gifts in grief, especially if they bring comfort and consolation when you’re hurting. 
  • How come others have these experiences and I don’t? No one knows why some mourners have these post death experiences in their grief and others don’t. Continue to do your mourning in a healthy way and live a good life to honor the memory of your loved one. Your post death gifts and blessings of comfort will come in the healing you experience in your grief.  

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” 

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All You Need To Know About Getting Through Special Days In Grief

Worried about getting through an upcoming special day in your grief? Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays without your loved one can be difficult. But all you need to survive those dreaded days in grief is this short list:  

  • Remember the anticipation of the special day is usually worse than the actual experience of the day itself. Imagined catastrophes are almost always much worse than reality. 
  • Make a plan for the special day so that you’ll feel you’ll have a choice in what happens next. You’ll probably have less painful or uncomfortable surprises this way. 
  • Do something in honor of your loved one on the special day. Your grief will not take the day off and you’ll need to express your feeling in a healthy way.  

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” 

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    The Absolute Worst Thing You Can Do For A Griever

    The worst thing you can do for someone in grief:

    NOTHING

    Be there. Be available. Be loving and  supportive. Don’t be judgmental or controlling.  And if necessary be uncomfortable. Do all this as long as the griever needs you in their grief journey. 

    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” 

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    Grief Used To Sell Hamburgers:  Right or Wrong?

    Complaints against a McDonald’s ad in the U.K. featuringa   bereaved boy asking about his deceased father has caused the corporation to pull what critics called an insensitive ad.  What do you think?  Is childhood bereavement a taboo for advertisers? Or an opportunity to raise public awareness of the issues of grief in childhood?

    Check it out and leave your thoughts : http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/05/16/mcdonalds-child-grief-commercial-should-be-shown-not-pulled 

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    24 Years …And Still Grieving?

    Over twenty years ago!  I can’t believe that this month May 2017 marks the 24th anniversary of the deaths of my 37-year-old wife Cindy and my two-year-old adopted daughter Katie.  Twenty four years!  That’s 11 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 24 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 24 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.

    24 years. 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 twenty-fourth 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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    Becoming a Card Carrying Griever And Save Yourself Some Grief

    Sometimes the answers to the most ticklish questions while you are grieving the loss of your loved one one can be really simple. Two problems that can face mourners can be solved by simply becoming a card-carrying griever. I’ll explain. Here’s the two problems and the simple solutions that you might try:

    • Having people consistently say, “If there’s anything I can do, just give me a call” and not getting your requests answered. 

              In one of my support groups one widow explained how every time she walked a visiting well wisher to her front door they would say the parting phrase “Now if there is anything I can ever do for you, just call and let me know.”

    The problem was that every time she tried to call and let people know what they could do for her, they were unavailable or unable to fulfill her request. The inventive widow decided she wasn’t going to let others get away with empty promises anymore.  So she came up with a plan.

    She placed a large bowl by the front door filled with index cards that had helpful tasks written on them.  Things like “Babysit the kids” or  “Pick up some things for me at the store.”

    Then every time she escorted a visiting well wisher out of her house, and they offered, “If there is anything I can ever do for you, just call and let me know” she would point to the card bowl. The flustered well wisher would then be obligated to draw a card and fulfill the task and his or her promise. 

    • Facing all your questioning well-wishers when you go back to church or to work after taking time off to mourn the loss of a loved one.

              Grief and Trauma Therapist Dr. H. Norman Wright has the answer to a mourner being tired of going to church services and to work and feeling obligated to answer endless questions about how the griever is doing or how things are.  Many mourners have always loved going to church and work until they feel forced to tell their story and condition multiple times a day.   These grievers say, “I’m already going through enough in my grief and pain and I don’t want to have to relive the experience multiple times to satisfy other people’s curiousity.”

    To solve the dilemma and ease the grief burden,  Dr. Wright suggests creating  another type of card. Each morning the mourner should get an index card and write a summary of his or her feelings, condition & progress. Then when the mourner  encounters questioners during time at church or at the job, they can smile and hand the card over to the questioners to read.

    Those grief cards will save the time and pain of having to review recent grief experiences. In addition grievers will discover quickly who was really interested in how they are doing and who is simply interested in getting juicy details. 

    These are just two helpful hints from card carrying grievers. Make your grief simpler by creating cards or simple solutions of your own device.  

    Also remember: Just because someone asks you a question doesn’t mean that you have to give them an answer. You’re grieving. You don’t have to try to meet everyone else’s needs and curious questions at the expense of your well being.  You need to be gracious, but your first obligation is to take care of yourself and to grieve in a healthy, healing way. 

    Politely tell them you appreciate their concern for you and bow out of answering their questions. 

    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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    Signs That You Are Healing in Grief

    When you’re in the middle of grief, it’s hard to tell whether you are progressing and healing.  Movement in grief is usually very slow…so slow, in fact, that you never see it happening.   What signs can tell you when you are beginning to heal from the traumatic emotional wounds of loss?

    This is not an exhaustive list.  But here are some signs to encourage you that your grief is healthy and you are moving toward healing:

    1. You move from survival mode to beginning to return to your life and hope for the future.
    2. You quit letting grief just happen to you and decide to take a more proactive stance in how you mourn.
    3. You move from anger, frustration and irritability toward adapting to your new reality.
    4. Thoughts about your loved one bring you more comfort than sadness.
    5. You not only accept help from others but you begin reaching out to others in grief or crisis.
    6. 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.
    7. You move from constant emotional turmoil and being negative to enjoying life once again and being positive.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. You let yourself have fun and enjoy life.
    12. You begin to realize that you can and will survive the experience of grief.
    13. You accept your loss story and use it to help you heal and to help other mourners.
    14. 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.
    15. You accept that sadness and depression are a part of grief that will change over time.
    16. 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.
    17. Your dread of holidays and special days becomes less and less.
    18. You start focusing on the things in your life to be thankful for.
    19. You decide to always remember your loved one in meaningful ways that will honor their valuable life.
    20. You get up in the morning knowing there is something to look forward to

    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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    Understanding the Five Principles of Grief

    PRINCIPLE # 1: Grief is the natural response to loss.

    What you experience after a loss is absolutely normal to human beings. Grief is the love or emotional investment expressed for the person who died.  So in your struggle with the pain of the moment you can be comforted that you are not alone in the struggle.  You can find comfort also in knowing you are not suffering an abnormal emotional, mental, spiritual or physical state that needs to be cured or corrected. Often mourners feel that no one else can understand what they are going through.  There are some common emotions and experiences to which the majority of mourners can relate.  These shared emotions and experiences can give you the individual mourner an encouraging message that you have the power to endure the pain of grief if fellow mourners have endured their pain. You can find strength to endure the emotional pain of the moment if you understand what you feel is a normal human response and a continued expression of the love and emotions you have for the one who died. The relationship with your loved one has not died; it has just changed and can be maintained.  The pain of the moment is well worth bearing to be able to carry your loved one into the future with you.

    PRINCIPLE # 2: Emotions experienced during grief are neither good nor bad. They just are.

    One reason that many mourners avoid the painful emotions of grief is because they fear the loss of control and rationality that seem to happen when they allow themselves to experience uncomfortable, demanding emotions.  Let’s state the obvious.  Control is an illusion.  We think we have control in our lives until something we would not choose happens – such as the death of a loved one. No one controls their grief emotions.  Who would choose the unpleasant, uncomfortable and often painful feelings of sadness, depression, anger, guilt or regret?  Yet these are part of a healthy grief experience. If grief has a purpose as an emotional transition toward healing, then maybe the emotions of grief have purpose also. Grief emotions could be helping us to become reflective, to process grief and to take a detailed inventory of how the loss has impacted us.  With that inventory we are equipped with valuable information that will help us to choose our path toward joy and healing.
    PRINCIPLE # 3: Grief emotions will be dealt with…now or later.

    No matter what the mourner does he or she cannot escape painful emotions after the death of a loved one.  Remember the last time you were on your cell phone and a child tried to get your attention?  That child was relentless.  No matter how much you passionately gestured and mouthed that you were on the phone, that child needing your attention did not give up.  They got your attention. Grief emotions will not be denied.  They are relentless and will be dealt with now or later.  Again no one controls or chooses their emotions, especially during grief.  Think of a huge cauldron with a fire going under it.  If the logs in the fire suddenly break, the flames surge around the cauldron.  Then everything on the bottom of the pot boils up to the top.  Grief emotions are the same way.  When a loved one dies, the uncomfortable, unpleasant and painful emotions of grief boil to the top.  Mourners can’t always control or choose what they feel. Although mourners cannot select their emotions, they can determine how they respond to grief and its pain.  Mourners are not powerless victims of grief. They are empowered with the choice of responding in ways that are healthy, appropriate, and constructive.  These choices can position them to endure the pain of grief and to progress toward health and healing.

    PRINCIPLE # 4: Grief is an individualized experience. Everyone does not grieve in the same predictable way.

    The individual mourner’s grief is shaped primarily by the one-of-a-kind, unique in all the universe relationship that they had with their loved one.  Therefore, every mourner’s grief is different and unique although there are commonalities or shared experiences among mourners.   No one formula, recipe, set of rules, therapy or solution for surviving grief fits all. With the support of other mourners, the individual has to navigate his or her way through his or her own unique grief.  First though the individual mourner has to acknowledge, experience and express their very personal grief emotions.  The only way to survive is not to avoid grief and its pain, but to go through it.

    PRINCIPLE # 5: Grief will not always be like it is in the beginning. As time passes, the grief experience changes.

    This basic principle of grief can give the mourner a reason to hope.  In the beginning of grief there is a very intense emotional pain.  Initially grief emotions and pain can be overwhelming and all-consuming.  For the person new to grief, everything in their life can be a memory of the devastating loss.  Desperate mourners often ask, “Will I ever feel joy again?” The good news for mourners is that over time grief and pain change. Time does not heal all wounds, but time gives opportunities for the mourner and his or her grief to change and become different.  Does it get better?  Better is not the right word.  Different describes the nature of grief as it changes.

    An excerpt from the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT 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. He can be followed on Twitter at griefminister01.

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    What Mary Tyler Moore Taught Me About Grief

    “Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?”
    — Lyrics from “Love Is All Around”  from the Mary Tyler Moore TV series

    Legendary television icon and talented entertainer Mary Tyler Moore touched countless lives and taught all of us some very important things during her lifetime. Through her body of work and her dedication to causes such as the fight for those suffering with diabetes she passed along lessons that will stick with us through our lives whether we are consciously aware of those lessons or not.

    On the Mary Tyler Moore show, her TV persona Mary Richards taught women that they could find the courage and strength to keep following their dreams of success in a career and in life. Mary also taught her loyal viewers and fans the importance and transformative power of positivity, optimism and “spunk” (even though her TV boss Lou Grant played by Ed Asner hated “spunk.”)  She taught us that being vulnerable and compassionate could be combined with an inner strength to make a real difference in the lives around her.  For one half hour each week Mary Richards made us believe that no matter how dark our lives might seem that we could smile and that “love is all around.”

    Mary Tyler Moore the person gave us all an example of true courage in her personal health struggles with diabetes which eventually brought about her death from pneumonia. She also showed us her strengths and vulnerability in coping with losses including the deaths of her son Richie in 1965, her younger sister Elizabeth in 1961 and her second husband Grant Tinker in 2016.  Through her loves and losses she lived a life that expressed the lyrics “you’re gonna make it after all.”

    But I want to personally thank Mary Tyler Moore for teaching me at an early age important lessons about grief. On October 25, 1975 in the memorable and hilarious episode “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” Mary Richards and the WJM-TV staff do their best to cope with the accidental, bizarre death of their co-worker Chuckles the Clown who hosted the station’s children’s show.

    Chuckles dies in a freak accident while being the grand marshal of a parade. Dressed as Peter Peanut, one of his TV show characters, Chuckles is killed when a rogue elephant in the parade decides to shell him.  In dealing with the loss Mary Richards’ co-workers move from shock to jokes pointing out the ridiculousness of the events that took poor Chuckles the Clown’s life.

    Mary is offended by the jokes at Chuckles’ expense and demands that her co-workers give the deceased co-worker the respect he should receive after death. But the tables are turned at the funeral for Chuckles, when Mary’s co-workers show somber respect and Mary struggles to stifle laughing bubbling up in her during the eulogy.  Mary’s outbursts of laughter interrupt the eulogy and upsets mourners as the minister talks about the many characters portrayed by Chuckles the clown on his kiddie show.  To see the funeral scene from “Chuckles Bites the Dust go to https://www.google.com/search?q=chuckles%20the%20clown%20funeral%20scene

    What lessons can you learn from watching fictional television characters Mary Richards, Ted Baxter, Lou Grant, Sue Ann Nivens, Murray Slaughter and Georgette Baxter in dealing with the accidental death of a kiddies’ TV show clown? What do we learn about ourselves and grief as we watch Mary Richards move from disgust that the deceased is not being respected to uncontrollable laughter at a funeral as she hears honors paid to a man who portrayed such characters as Mr. Fee Fi Foh, Aunt Yoo-hoo, and Peter Peanut?  Here’s what I learned and I share with other mourners:

    • Grief emotions are unpredictable, uncontrollable and unique to the mourner. In grief, emotions just happen and they are neither good nor bad. They just are. Often others may tell us and we may tell ourselves that these emotions are unwarranted and inappropriate. The truth is we do not pick or control our grief emotions. They may be unpleasant, uncomfortable or painful. But they are not bad in of themselves. They are part of the human experience in loss. We can’t choose how we feel, but we can choose how we respond to our grief emotions. The emotions we feel, whatever they be, are part of our human experience of loss. They help us process our grief, start healing and progress in life. Don’t ever tell a mourner “You shouldn’t feel that way!” The mourner’s resulting grief emotions are unique to him/her and their unique relationship with the loved one who died. 
    • Grief emotions expressed honestly are an honor for the person who has died. When I officiate funerals or memorials, I give those attending permission to feel and express whatever emotions they experience. I tell them if they feel like tearing up and crying out loud as I talk of the person honored that that is okay. Expressing sadness when remembering the loved one honors their memory and life. I also give them permission to smile or laugh when I talk about their loved one. Expressing joy or humor when remembering the loved one also honors their memory and life. Let mourners have their emotions and express them no matter how uncomfortable they make you feel or if you consider them inappropriate. Mourners need to accept their honest emotions and express them to heal.
    • Grief emotions expressed honestly and openly are healing and move us through grief. Expressing grief emotions is self-care for the huge emotional wound of loss. Without it grief is unhealthy and prolongs healing for the mourner. Avoiding grief and its emotions is actually delaying the healing that mourners hope for.

    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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