Things You Never Want to Hear in Your Grief

After over twenty years of facilitating grief support groups and counseling mourners, I have learned that nothing sparks a grieving person’s conversation more than asking “What are some of the dumb or thoughtless statements people have made to you in trying to help you with your grief?”

Suddenly the griever wakes up from his or her solemn, quiet demeanor into an animated dissertation of clichés, “inspirational” statements and glib responses from often well-meaning friends and family members that have caused them to experience shock, disbelief and sometimes emotional pain.

Here is a list of just a few of the things you might want to avoid saying to a mourner:

  • You know they are in a better place. True. But that doesn’t make me miss them less or feel any less sad.
  • You know that you will see them again someday. Again true. I know that but I still miss them.
  • Everything happens for a reason. Does it? Or is that what we tell ourselves and others to make us feel better? It seems like in grief that life is pretty much random and without a perceivable purpose.
  • Something good will come from this. How do you know that? I know God uses all the events of our lives, good or bad, to work out His purpose. But this death will never be good. So don’t try to whitewash it or make it better.
  • This too shall pass. Okay, but how is that supposed to bring me comfort right now? I am mourning the loss of a person who is valuable and will be missed. No cliché takes that away. Let me grieve and heal.
  • I know exactly how you feel. I’m sorry, but no you don’t. My relationship with my loved one is unique and unlike any other relationship that has or will exist. We may have grief emotions and responses in common, but you’re grief is not exactly like mine. I am different from you. Don’t compare losses because one of our two different griefs will be discounted.
  • Just think about the good times and memories. In time maybe I will be able to do that. But right now I need to mourn the loss of a valuable person and all the future experiences that we could have had together.
  • He (or She) wouldn’t want you to be sad (or cry, or grieve) How can you know that? And how can you say that? Most likely you are the one right now that does not want me to cry because I make you feel uncomfortable or helpless to do anything.
  • They’ll always be in your heart. Yes, but I would so want them to be here with me physically now.
  • God never gives you more than you can stand. First, if that’s true then I wish to high heaven that He didn’t think so highly of me. Second, that’s a misquote of scripture that says God will not allow me to be tempted more than I can endure. (I Corinthians 10:13 …”But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which you are able to bear…”)
  • God needed (or loved) them more than you. Again, that might be true, but my heart right now is telling how much I love and miss them. Your attempt at comfort or consolation is not working.
  • Just remember: There’s always someone who has it worse than you. Yes, and I wonder if one of their friends is telling them the same thing in an effort to comfort them or short circuit their grief. This is not a contest to see who is worse off and has a greater right to suffer.
  • I thought you would be doing better by now. Well, honestly, so did I. But I am learning that grief takes time. It is a process and not an event to be completed and marked off my TO DO List. I am learning to be patient with me and my grief. Please be patient as I walk this path that I did not ask to travel.
  • You need to be strong for the rest of your family (or for others grieving). No, I need to mourn in a healthy way for myself and for them. I need to heal and to be a model of healthy grief for others who are also grieving.
  • You just need to get busy and forget about it. How can I just forget about them? They have been, still are and will always be an important part of who I am and how I live. And no amount of being busy can wipe out how much I love and miss them.
  • At least you had them for _____ (amount of time). That’s true, but their time with me wasn’t nearly long enough. If they had been with me one hundred years, I would still be wanting just one more day with them.
  • How old was he (or she)? What does their age have to do with anything? Are you saying they had lived long enough and therefore, I shouldn’t miss them? Yes, they may have lived a full life in the number of years they were with me. But their physical presence was a priceless treasure that I never wanted to end.
  • It was God’s Will. You don’t know that. So what gives you the right to say that?
  • It was her (or his) time to go. Maybe. Maybe not. Even if it was, that doesn’t change how I feel.
  • If you just trust more, you’ll be doing better. People who trust or have faith still grieve. No one of us is exempt from loss and grief.
  • Don’t ask “Why?” Just because I may never get any answers to my questions doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask. I am trying to make sense out of something that is senseless to me.

If you are wanting to help a mourner, think before you speak and choose your words of comfort carefully. Ask yourself:

  • Am I just saying something to be saying something?
  • Am I saying this because it brings me comfort or makes me look good?
  • Would this be something that I would appreciate hearing if I were in the emotional turmoil of grief?
  • Is the mourner in so much pain that they cannot hear the comfort or encouragement in this statement?
  • Should I simply keep quiet and listen?

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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Children: The Overlooked Grievers

Children are often the overlooked mourners. These young grievers unfortunately may never get their greatest emotional and spiritual needs met in dealing with their devastating loss. Why does this happen?


In the family, adults are dealing with their own grief. They don’t know what to do for themselves, much less what to do for hurting, grieving children.  To complicate the situation further, grieving children in a family or community are often pushed aside, chastised, punished and suddenly marked as “problem children” because they act out in protest to their loss.  The adults around them don’t understand that the child in grief is angry, upset, and scared….and the only coping skill they know to employ is protest, acting out and seeking attention in any way possible.  These are not problem children, but children with a problem.  They need the adults around them to provide comfort, encouragement and most importantly security.  Grieving children who are acting out and having trouble in school are often misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD.  These troubled children will often display the symptoms of these two diagnoses.

In many communities, there are no grief support groups, agencies or professionals who reach out to grieving children. Our culture fosters two myths about children in grief. One myth is that children are too young to understand loss and therefore, they don’t grieve.  Another myth is that children grieve like little adults and can have their needs met exactly the way mourning adults do.  The truth is that children who are old enough to love are old enough to grieve (from Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition http://centerforloss.com). Children do grieve.  They grieve at the level of understanding they have at their developmental stage in life.  And children need support, encouragement, and instruction in order to develop healthy coping skills to deal with their loss.  Often when they fail to receive the needed support during grief, children will develop unhealthy coping skills which they will carry into their adult lives.  The result is unhealthy, unhappy adults dealing with emotional and spiritual life problems.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

You can reach out to grieving children at the time that they need you most. If you live in the Dallas-North Texas area, you can refer children and their families to GriefWorks (http://grief-works.org), a free children’s grief support ministry helping ages 5-18 and their adult family members who are struggling after the death of a loved one.  For more information about the GriefWorks program, call 972-960-9981 and ask for Larry Barber.

If you live outside of the Dallas-North Texas area you can start a program or services in your community especially for grieving children and teens.  One resource for helping you to do this is the BreakWay Grief Curriculum (copyright, ChristianWorks for Children).  For more information about the BreakWay Grief Curriculum, go to http://breakway.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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What Grieving Children Want Adults to Know

 As parents in a grieving family, we worry that we won’t do or say the right thing to help our children to grieve in healthy ways and to heal.  Here are just a few things that mourning children would like for the adults around them to know:

  • I want you to be there for me, but I don’t want you to hover or tell me how to grieve.
  • If you think I might want to talk, encourage me but don’t be pushy. I want to be able to ask questions and talk about the loss, but only when I want to.
  • Just because I’m not grieving in front of you doesn’t mean I’m not grieving or something is wrong with me. Sometimes I’m just not comfortable sharing with you. Sometimes it’s easier to talk with someone outside the family. And many times I feel more comfortable expressing my feelings to people my age.
  • Don’t take for granted that you know what I’m feeling. Let me explain my feelings and my grief experience to you.
  • It’s not your fault that you can’t make me feel better or protect me from the pain of grief. I need to go through my grief.   Just be there for me.
  • Do things for me because you care not because you feel guilty or sorry for me.
  • Don’t lie or hide the truth from me. If ever I needed to trust in you, it’s now.
  • Don’t be surprised that I don’t like changes or the unexpected. I’ve gone through too many changes already.
  • If I’m having a bad day, give me some slack. And when I react negatively to you, it’s not against you personally. It’s the grief.
  • I don’t expect that you will have all the answers to all my questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
  • Don’t be surprised when I grieve differently from you and others in the family. My grief in my own unique experience.
  • Give me real answers and don’t say things that you think will make me feel better like “It’ll be all right,” “You’ll get over it,” or “I know what you’re going through.”
  • Don’t get worried if I don’t seem to feel anything. Sometimes I don’t and other times I am trying to determine exactly all the feelings I do have.
  • Understand when I just need to be by myself.
  • Understand when I’m angry that I may just be angry at the situation, not you.
  • Understand that when I complain of physical problems that it may not be all “in my head” or “just to get attention.”
  • Understand when I’m fearful that I worry what will happen next or who I might lost next.
  • Don’t tell me that I shouldn’t feel a certain way even if it doesn’t make any sense at all to you. I have a right to my feelings.
  • Listen to me when I talk and understand when I don’t want to.
  • Don’t try to put on a brave front just for me. I can usually tell when you’re faking. I know you are scared and grieving too.
  • Allow me to comfort you when you grieve. Understand I worry about you too.
  • Encouraging words and hugs are appreciated although I might not show it.

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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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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