The Greatest Fears of Grief

Fear is an integral part of grief. When someone close to you dies, the world automatically becomes less of a safe, secure place.  All bets are off.  This death thing suddenly becomes too real, too fast.  We all knew that 100% of us would die and 100% of us would say goodbye to people who are dear to us.  But somehow we thought that if we didn’t think or talk about death, loss and grief, that we and our loved ones would be exempted from the rules. We all live with a certain amount of denial of the realities of death.

Then as we grieve our losses, we encounter other fears. The proven uncertainty and fragility of life causes us to consciously or subconsciously think about what possible unexpected tragic loss will take place next.  Who will be the next to die?  Who that we love and care for will we have stolen from us next leaving us to start grieving all over again? The thought of having to be thrown into a sea of emotional turmoil once again is unthinkable.  We’re having such a struggle dealing with this current loss and its unbearable grief.  How can we possibly stand even more loss and more painful grief emotions and experience?  In fact, many times we are certain that we cannot endure any additional stress and pain of more loss or losses.

As time passes those initial feelings of fear and more impending doom also pass or lessen. But in place of that fear of more death and loss comes what can be an even worse fear.  We begin to feel different in our grief as time passes and our grief journey continues.  We don’t hurt as much or as often with the emotions of grief and again we start to conjure up new worries and fears.

As grief goes on and our lives and the lives around us continue, we think about the unfairness of life going on as usual without our loved one there. First we fear that everyone will forget our loved one. In our strained and stressed grief brain we begin to think how unfair it is that everyone else gets to go on with life as if nothing has happened.  The acknowledgements of others expressing sympathy, condolence and comfort that come flooding in on us after our loss decrease.  The wells of compassion we have begun to depend upon from those around us dry up.  People still care, but they seem to express it less and less.  Are they beginning to forget our loved one and how important their lives were and still are?  Will one day there be a world where it will be as if our loved one never existed, never contributed to the lives of others and never had any value?  The thoughts of such a forgetful world makes us feel our loved one and we are being abandoned and forgotten forever.  We become desperately afraid and angry that anyone could not continue to be impacted by the absence of such valuable people as our loved ones.

Then just as suddenly another fear even worse than this first one comes to our mind. Maybe we are beginning to forget our loved one.  Maybe in grieving in a healthy way and healing means forgetting our loved one completely, abandoning them in the shadows of the past and “moving on” without them. Is it possible?  Are we abandoning our loved ones in the past and doomed to progress in healing to a point that sentences us to live without them at all?  Now that is a scary thought for a grieving person!

But in becoming fixated on the fear that others and we will be doomed to forget and abandon those loved ones who have meant so much to us and made us who we are we forget two important facts:

  1. No matter how much time passes, mourners will never forget their loved one who died. Our loved one no matter how long or short of a time we had them in our lives, they changed our lives forever by being in our lives. They have given us such precious memories and gifts during their time with us, that we can never forget or stop loving them. True our grief may change, but our love for the one who died will never change. And what they gave us in living with us can never be taken from us….especially our treasured memories of them. Our loved one is too much a part of who we are and who we will be to be forgotten or abandoned in the passage of time.
  2. Death kills people and takes lives, but death doesn’t kill our relationship with the loved one or completely take them away from us.   Death doesn’t end relationships; death changes the nature of relationships. No longer will our relationship have the physical aspect it had while the person was living. But the relationship continues with its spiritual and emotional attachments intact after they die. Our relationship moves from one dependent upon the physical closeness of the love one to a relationship dependent upon the memories of the loved one. Therefore, we never forget or abandon our loved one.

An important part of our continuing bonds to the loved one that dies is our remembering them and honoring their lives. Therefore, we have an ongoing need to remember or “memorialize” the person in special and meaningful ways.  To meet this need to memorialize our loved one, we can and should develop rituals and times of remembrance throughout the rest of our lives.

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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Run from the Grief Counselor’s Office If You Hear These Statements

Grief support groups and individual grief counseling can make the difference in whether the mourner spends a long time struggling with the troublesome, often painful aspects of his or her loss and the grief that follows or the mourner begins and maintains a healthy grief journey toward emotional, mental and spiritual healing.  That is, if the grief counselor or grief support group facilitator has a good understanding of the nature and purpose of grief and effective techniques that support, comfort and help the mourner to launch into healthy grief.

Unfortunately for many reasons, some counselors are unwittingly and unintentionally prolonging mourners’ grief, causing them secondary trauma and making the grief journey much harder than it needs to be.  Below is a list of statements often made by well-intentioned counselors, support group facilitators and comforters to mourners they are truly trying to help.  Instead these statements can cause further “grief” and emotional struggles for the mourner which are totally unnecessary.

Avoid counselors or consolers who give you any of the following pieces of advice or guidance for grieving in a healthy manner:

  • These are the stages of grief.  Everyone will go through them.
    Most of us have heard of the five stages of grief according to Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  This model of healthy grief stages and other models have been stressed so much in our culture that we have begun to believe that grief is an orderly, predictable process which can be navigated by measuring our progress through each stage or level.But grief is anything but orderly and predictable.  Each grief is different and unique to the person experiencing the loss and unique to the relationship the mourner has with the loved one who died.  Although all of those aspects of grief may be present – denial, anger, bargain, depression and acceptance — they don’t happen in an orderly or predictable fashion.   Sometimes there are commonalities in grief in general, but every grief and every mourner is different.  The helper to the mourner must be willing to learn about the unique aspects of each mourner and their grief in order to support and help them according to their individual needs.
  • These are the rules for grief.  Everyone must follow them to be successful in their grief journey.
    There are no rules in grief because every grief is different.  So following a cookie cutter or one size fits all approach to grief support or counseling is not the best approach to dealing with each individual mourner.
  • Grief beyond this time period should be considered complicated (or pathological).
    Grief takes as long as it takes, and grief runs on its own timetable.  Depending upon the loss and its complications, the early part of grief which is intense, overwhelming and all-consuming can last for months or years.  Again, every mourner is different.  And although grief can change, the mourner will always miss their loved one.   It is natural for the mourner to think of the loved one and react in an emotional way, even years after the loss happened.Also grief is not a pathology.  It is not a disease or mental or emotional disorder.  Grief acts as a natural transition period and measure to move from life with the person physically present to life without the loved one present. Counselors and grief facilitators and comforters companion the mourner through this transition period of grief.
  • Grief will end at some point.
    The mourner will always love and miss their loved one.  Therefore, there is no getting over grief.  There is only going through grief.  There is no end or conclusion to the love we have for people after they die.  Grief and the mourner change over time, but the grief journey continues as long as the mourner loves or misses the person.
  • You must be openly expressive with your grief emotions in order to be healthy and heal.
    There is no one set way or right way to grieve.  Some mourners are expressive and others are stoics.  The important thing is that a mourner find his or her style of grief that allows them to deal with the emotions of grief that does not hurt them or anyone  around them.  As long as the person is relieving the emotional tension of grief inside them and progressing in their grief, they are healthy mourners.
  • You must “detach” or “let go” of the loved one.  Say “goodbye” to your relationship with them.
    Death ends lives, but it does not kill or end relationships.  The mourner must say goodbye not to the loved one, but to the relationship with the loved one as it was before the death.  The relationship with the loved one does not end at death, it just changes from being one that is based on physical presence of the loved one.  After the death the relationship with the loved one becomes one that is based on the emotional and spiritual ties the mourner has with the person who died.
  • Keeping busy to forget about the loss and your loved one is one of best things you can do.
    Being busy to take short breaks or vacations from the intense work of grief is healthy but becoming busy to avoid the work of grief completely is not healthy for the mourner.  The grief will always be present whether it is processed by the mourner or not.
  • Don’t waste your time asking “Why?”
    No.  Mourners need to ask questions including “Why?”  These questions help mourners to measure the full impact of the loss upon their lives in order to move on to the questions about what is to be done next to prepare for living into the future in a healthy way.
  • Grief is the price we pay for loving people.
    This statement makes grief sound like an onerous obligation or debt or punishment we have to pay for making the “mistake” of loving someone.  No.  The mourner’s loved one is a valuable person who deserves to be remembered, honored, loved and grieved over after their death.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
    This is a trite cliché which can raise troubling questions and emotional struggles for the mourner.  This cliché often comes across as a glib or smug dismissal of the emotional turmoil and grief journey that comes after the death of a loved one.  If my loved one died for a reason or purpose, then why am I still mourning?  A more bothersome question can be “What possible reason could there be for the seemingly unfair death of my loved one?”   And “When I finally determine the reason or purpose for the death, will that end my 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” 

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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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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