Love Never Dies: The Backstory of a Grief Journey

People ask how did the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief With Hope & Promise” come about?  The book comes from my personal grief story of losing my wife & daughter in May 1993 plus the grief experiences of many mourners in my grief support groups and grief counseling sessions.

Shortly after the publication of the book in 2011 the Huffington Post  and the Cleburne Times-Review published an article on the Love Never Dies backstory. Here is a link to that article: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1068035.html  

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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Over Twenty Years…And Still Grieving?

Over twenty years ago!  I can’t believe that this month May 2016 marks the 23rd anniversary of the deaths of my 37-year-old wife Cindy and my two-year-old adopted daughter Katie.  Twenty three years!  That’s 10 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 23 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.

23 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 twenty-third 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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Grief: It Doesn’t Have to Always Be This Way

For the last 23 years  I and my children, Christian and Sarah, have dreaded the month of May.  Every May 15 marked another anniversary and another reminder of the deaths of my 37 year old wife Cindy and my two year old daughter Katie in a horrific multi-car accident in Arlington.  Every May 1 we remembered the birthday of Katie, every May 9 we remembered the birthday of Cindy and every Mother’s Day Sunday while others celebrated their mothers and wives, we missed our dear Cindy and Katie.

I was beginning to think that dreading all of May would be my fate for the rest of my life…until now.  On May 28 my daughter Sarah married the love of her life Josh.  Now there is a new beginning for them and a new beginning for my family.  Now there are new and renewed hopes for the future for them and new hopes for the future for all of us.

I have told other countless mourners over my years as a grief counselor, author, educator and fellow mourner that:

  • Your grief will change.  Grief will not always be as it is now
  • God can take the bad that happens to you and bring about blessings
  • You and your life are bigger than your grief

But I never really believed any of that for me. Until now.  From this point on every May takes on a completely new meaning.  No dread.  No overwhelming sadness. Every May 28 there be love and joy to celebrate.

I will still miss Cindy and Kate.  I will still long to see them and be in their presence again.  I will wish that Cindy and Katie could have been present physically to see the joy we all shared May 28 and every May 28 yet to come.

But now I will look at May a little differently.  May is the month that God intervened in 2016 to bring joy, peace and hope back to me and my family.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.

Pictured below my daughter Sarah and her new husband and my new son Josh.

 

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The Pain of Mother’s Day for Grievers

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 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, grandmothers and great grandmothers 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 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 college 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. I looked over as my children’s heads were bowed in prayer.

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.”

That was the best Mother’s Day I had experienced in a long time.

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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7 Simple Ways to Help Your Grieving Friend

Guidelines for Helping Someone Who is Mourning

Friends often ask themselves questions, such as: What should I do? What should I say? Am I doing the right thing? What can I do better? Here are some suggestions for helping the person in grief:

  1. Take some kind of action. Make a phone call, send a card, give a hug, attend the funeral, help with practical matters (e.g., meals, care of children).
  2. Be available. Allow the person time so that there is no sense of “urgency” when you visit or talk.
  3. Be a good listener. Accept the words and feelings expressed, avoid being judgmental or taking their feelings personally. Avoid telling them what they should feel or what they should do.
  4. Don’t minimize the loss and avoid giving clichés and easy answers. Don’t be afraid to talk about the loss (i.e., the deceased, the ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, the disability, etc.).
  5. Allow the bereaved person to grieve for as long or short of a time as needed. Be patient. There are no shortcuts.
  6. Encourage the bereaved to care for themselves. They need to attend to physical needs, postpone major decisions, and allow themselves to grieve and recover.
  7. Acknowledge and accept your own limitations. Many situations can be hard to handle, but can be made easier with the help of outside resources – books, workshops, support groups, other friends, or professionals.

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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Common Reactions in Grief

At many points after a loss, the mourning person can benefit from the support of others. Individual grief reactions can vary widely from person to person and also within the same person over time. Accordingly, friends need to be ready to accept and support the griever through a wide range of emotions.

Reactions to Loss

Mourning people will experience many reactions to their loss as they deal with grief:

  • At various times, but especially at first, the mourning person may experience intense and sometimes conflicting feelings or may deny that the loss has occurred.
  • Strong feelings such as sadness, helplessness, loneliness, guilt, or anger can emerge. Experiencing and accepting these feelings as natural represents an important part of the recovery process.
  • Ultimately, the mourning person reaches a point in the recovery process where the loss becomes integrated into his or her set of life experiences. He or she is now better able to carry out the task of daily living.
  • Throughout their grief journey, people who are mourning will experience many reactions. Some of the following reactions may be experienced many times.
  1. Denial, shock and numbness – Reactions which distance the mourning person from the loss, thereby protecting him/her from being overwhelmed by emotions.
  2. Emotional release – These reactions accompany realizations of different aspects of the loss; they frequently involve much crying and are important to the healing process.
  3. Depression – Natural feelings beyond sadness (e.g., feelings of loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, self-pity) which occur as the person more clearly recognizes the extent of the loss. For some people, reactive depression is part of the internal processing of the loss that the mourning person must go through before reorganizing his/her life.
  4. Panic – Feeling overwhelmed, confused, fearful, unable to cope, and even believing something is wrong with oneself.
  5. Remorse – Following a loss (whether through death, relationship break up, or disability) a mourning person sometimes becomes preoccupied with thoughts of what he/she might have done differently to have prevented the loss or to have made things better. This can be helpful as the person tries to make sense out of his or her situation, but can also lead to unrealistic feelings of remorse or guilt.
  6. Anger – This is a frequent response to a perception of injustice and powerlessness. A significant loss can threaten the mourning person’s basic beliefs about himself or herself or about life in general. As a result (often to the mourning person’s bewilderment), he or she can feel anger at a person perceived as responsible for the loss or at God or life in general for the injustice of the loss; and also, in cases of loss through death, at the deceased for dying.
  7. The Need to Talk – In order to recognize and come to terms with the impact of the loss, the mourning person may express feelings, tell stories, and share memories, sometimes over and over with many different people.
  8. Physical ailments – In response to the emotional stress of grief, the immune systems of many people become suppressed or depleted, which makes the body more vulnerable to a variety of physical ailments during the months following loss (e.g., colds, nausea, hypertension, etc.).

A good rule of thumb for those seeking to support the mourner: If at any time, the person’s grief starts to affect adversely their ability to function in a healthy way at home, work or in the community, then it is a good time to get professional help for the mourner.

Also whenever the person providing support to the mourner feels inadequate to fulfill his or her job as comforter, it is a good time to refer the mourner to professional help.

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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Ten Beliefs that Make Grief Support Groups Work

In order to make a grief support group successful, first the group’s facilitators must be sold on the fact that mourners can heal when given comfort, support, encouragement and time.  Then second facilitators must be able to sell group participants on the belief that finding hope and healing in  grief is possible.

In order to be effective a grief support group facilitator should believe the following principles:

  • A person in grief does not have an illness or mental/emotional disorder that needs to be diagnosed and cured.
  • Grief is a natural internal response to the loss of someone significant in our life.
  • Mourning is the outward behavior that is our response to the grief inside us. Grief is a process, a journey, not a one-time event.
  • Mourners have the innate ability to work through the pain of grief and move toward healing.
  • The work of grief is facilitated when the mourner is given comfort, support, encouragement, time and emotional space to grieve by those around them.
  • Favorable life circumstances and loving support can help move the process along.
  • Mourners can benefit from being with a peer group which has suffered similar emotions and experiences in loss.
  • Mourners will often talk through or work through their concerns and fears if provided a safe, confidential, caring environment.
  • Providing a family systems approach to grief support can be essential to the emotional healing of both grieving adults and children.
  • A person’s feeling on the grief journey are their feelings. It isn’t up to us to talk them out of their feelings or to try to change the way they are feeling.

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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Teaching Grievers the Hope of Easter

The large meeting room at GriefWorks, the free children’s grief support program in Dallas, Texas

As the circle of eager children and their family members prepared to go into their grief support groups and enjoy the company of fellow mourners their age in fun activities, I asked the group to share any exciting news that was happening in their lives. Seven-year-old Brandon, who always has something exciting to share, stuck his hand up in the air. I said, “What do you have to share with the group, Brandon?”

“Easter is coming soon!” he shouted with a big smile on his face.

“And why do we celebrate Easter?” I said.

“Because we get candy…and stuffed animals!” Brandon proclaimed.

“That’s right. Sometimes we do get candy and gifts,” I said. “But what else do we celebrate!”

“Fake tattoos!” he shot back. “Sometimes I get fake tattoos!”

“Okay,” I replied. “But what else do we celebrate at Easter?”

Five-year-old Mandy spoke up. “Jesus died on the cross.”

“That’s right,” I said. “And then what happened!”

“God brought Jesus back from the dead!” exclaimed Mandy.

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!” Brandon shouted as he threw back both his arms and hands and his little body bent backward in rigid, questioning protest. “That’s not fair!!! How come Jesus gets to come back from the dead and my Nana doesn’t?” said Brandon as he stared angrily at me. “That’s not fair!!!”

That was certainly not the response I had expected to get from the group as we talked about the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ along with the hope we share in knowing that our Heavenly Father raised Jesus from the dead. But honestly, Brandon is not the first person grieving over the death of a loved one who has asked that question. Brandon is not the first person in history who has asked how an all-powerful, loving God could allow their loved one to die leaving them to be without that valuable person for the rest of their lives. To the mourner missing a loved one, that doesn’t seem fair.

Easter is a joyous time, yes—a time filled with candy, Easter egg hunts, baskets with stuffed animals and gifts and sunrise Easter services speaking of hope and Heaven. But for the mourner it can be an emotional and sometimes painful time. For the person still missing that important loved one in their lives:

  • Easter activities with an emphasis on family, friends and loved ones can be a reminder of their loss because they will never get to spend another Easter with their loved one.
  • Easter with its focus on Death can be a reminder of the hole in their hearts and in their lives that Death has created by taking their loved one from them.
  • Easter with its focus on resurrection from the dead and an empty tomb can be a reminder that the casket, urn or vault containing their loved one is stilled filled with the remains of their loved one.
  • Easter with its focus on rejoicing and joy can be a reminder of how sad their lives seem without their loved one.
  • Easter with its focus on hope for the future and talk of seeing Jesus return can be a reminder that they can’t see their loved one who has died when they want to—now. They may be thinking, “Hope for the future is nice, but I want my loved one back now. I don’t want to wait.”

As children and adults went to their GriefWorks support groups, I leaned down to talk with Brandon. I looked into his sad eyes and said, “You know, Brandon, that the same power God used to bring back Jesus from the dead He is going to use to bring us back from the dead….and our loved ones too.”

“Then I’ll get to see Nana?” Brandon said with a relieved smile.

“Yes, you’ll get to see Nana. And the rest of us will get to see all the people that we love that God has been taking care of in Heaven for us,” I said smiling back.

Remember this Easter to have fun, spend time with the ones you love most, thank God for your blessings, thank Jesus for His sacrifice and celebrate The Empty Tomb—the symbol of all believers’ hope for today and tomorrow.

But remember too those who are hurting because of Death and the loved ones who have been ripped from their lives. Sometimes in the deafening pain of grief it is hard to feel comfort, joy and hope. All they can feel or hear is pain and sadness after the loss.  Be with the mourner this Easter, support them, be patient and encourage them.  Without preaching or trying to change their grief, share some of your hope from The Empty Tomb.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live… (John 11:25)

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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When Grief Becomes Complicated: What Happens?

“Complicated grief” refers to grief, which doesn’t follow the usual or expected grief pattern due to complicating factors.  When grief is complicated, the grieving individual may not heal in a healthy manner without outside assistance or intervention.  The following signs may indicate that the grieving individual needs professional intervention:

Children and Adolescents

  • Chronic or severe somatic symptoms (headaches, stomach aches, etc.)
  • Pronounced self-blame
  • Chronic school problems
  • Nightmares/sleep disturbances
  • Extreme regression (return to bedwetting, clinging, thumb-sucking, etc.)
  • Poor self-care
  • Excessive hopelessness
  • Extreme anger/hostility/violence or other extreme acting out/defiance
  • Social isolation/extreme withdrawal
  • Sudden change in friends/peer group
  • Intense separation anxieties or phobias
  • Apparent absence of grief or unwillingness to discuss the loss
  • Skipping school
  • Intense involvement in dating relationship to the exclusion of other friends or activities
  • Extreme negativity/gloom
  • Intense attraction to the topic of death, or fixation on the subject of death
  • Illegal activity/violating the rights of others
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or plans

Adults

  • Persistent somatic complaints, physical problems, or chronic illness
  • Acute anxiety or panic
  • Excessive hostility and anger
  • Inability to work
  • Poor self-care or inability to meet daily needs of self, dependents
  • Social Isolation
  • Increased or new alcohol/drug/nicotine use
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating disturbances, appetite changes, or major weight loss or gain
  • Lasting or agitated depression
  • Excessive and unrealistic guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts or plans

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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Take Your Grief Emotions Inventory!

When you go through grief, you go through a lot of complex, confusing emotions.  One way to gauge how well you are dealing with the loss, your grief and your grief emotions is to take an inventory of all the emotions and experiences that are a part of your grief journey.

Below is a whole list of things you might think or feel (or have thought or felt) when someone has died.  Read through the list as quickly as you can and check the thoughts and feelings that come close to describing the same thoughts and feelings you have experienced (no matter how short or long you experienced them).  Don’t think too much about each one; just go through the checklist as quickly as you can!

____1. Sometimes I feel left out; people forget to ask about me and how I am doing.

____2. Sometimes I get angry with the person for dying.

____3. Sometimes I feel sad and hurt when I think about it.

____4. Sometimes I feel guilty.

____5. It really feels weird to be around other people who knew the person that died.

____6. I wonder about death and dying

____7. Sometimes I feel guilty cause I don’t want to want to be sad all the time.

____8. Sometimes I get jealous because other people don’t have these feelings.

____9. Sometimes this all feels like a dream that will go away when I wake up.

____10. Sometimes I feel real confused and out-of-sorts!

____11. I feel helpless, like there isn’t anything I could do to stop it or to help.

____12. I wonder if the same thing could happen to someone else in my family.

____13. Anything can hit you the wrong way and bring up all kinds of feelings.

____14. Not crying means that I am strong and I can hold it together.

____15. I wonder if I should of acted differently towards the person that died.

____16. Sometimes I find myself getting angry at the person that died.

____17. Sometimes I find myself mad at God for letting this happen.

____18. I wonder about what would have happened if they did not die.

____19. I need a break from thinking about all this cause I still need to have fun.

____20. I know I’m just a normal person in an abnormal situation.

____21. Sometimes I start thinking that the person really isn’t dead.

____22. People are always trying to get me to be happy when I need to feel sad.

____23. Sometimes my family isn’t very helpful and I have to talk to friends.

____24. Sometimes my friends aren’t very helpful and I rely on my family for support.

____25. I find myself being more cautious or careful these days.

____26. I feel like the sadness will never go away.

____27. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who feels the way I do about all this.

____28. I get mad because this is so unfair!!!

____29. I get confused sometimes, and it’s hard to concentrate and remember things.

____30. Sometimes I get scared, even for no reason.

____31. I feel like I am a different person now that this has happened to me.

____32. Sometimes I pretend it hasn’t happened.

____33. Life goes on–and I get mad because it’s not happening to anyone else’s family, it’s

happened to mine!

____34. I can still be happy even though this is happening to me.

____35. Sometimes when I think about it, I don’t feel anything at all.

____36. I’d like to erase this all from my brain!

____37. Sometimes I don’t want to think about it or talk about it because it’s too much!

____38. I just can’t help worrying about other people in my family.

____39. Sometimes I have dreams and even nightmares about the person who died.

____40. Sometimes I cry for no reason.

____41. I get afraid sometimes to be alone

____42. I get worried or feel anxious more than I used to (for no particular reason).

____43. Nighttime can be the hardest time—that’s when I can’t stop thinking about it!

____44. Sometimes I think I’ll never get use to this.

____45. Sometimes I feel guilty because I did or said something mean to the person who’s

died–but I was just mad.

____46. Sometimes I can’t remember what it was like before the person died.

____47. I know what has happened but don’t understand why!

____48. I wonder if the person who died knows that I love him/her.

____49. Nobody asked me what I think or how I feel.

____50. I know no matter what happens, I am going to be okay.

 

Whew! That’s quite a list!  So how many thoughts and feelings did you check?  Maybe you recognized ten or twenty, or maybe even all fifty!  Some of these things are hard to feel and some are hard to admit that you feel.  Remember that taking an inventory of how the loss has impacted you equips you to better face your grief journey.

Remember, the thing about thoughts and feelings is that they are not right or wrong, and they are not good or bad.  They just are, and you can’t help thinking or feeling the way you do about anything!  It is what you do to take care of your thoughts and feelings that matter. 

Some of these feelings feel good, and some feel not so good. All these thoughts and feelings are normal!  Everyone who experiences grief can think and feel these ways.  And, many persons, big and little, find it helpful to share these with others.  Find someone with whom you feel safe to share your grief thoughts and feelings with.

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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