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In This Article, Eleanor Haley talks about the concept of Continuing Bonds in grief.

This Article offers some ideas for cultivating a sense of connectedness to your loved one.

Grief Counselor and bereaved mother Nisha Zenoff talks about her personal and professional experience with continuing bonds as part of the grieving journey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ag8XbBirQY  

“The best advice anyone ever gave me was to remember that I never have to stop loving her.” – Elizabeth Levang, dedicated to her grandmother, Salute Belluz

“As the days go by, they tell me I will get better and not hurt so much.  This is most likely true, but this does not mean my love or memory of my daughter will be less.  Oh no! I will always keep her alive in my heart and tell people that I have four children.” – Becky Geppert, in memory of her daughter, Rebecca Joy, always walking in her heart.

“I learned to do what it takes to relieve my sadness. I made a memory book, wrote poems, wrote Caleb a letter telling him how much I loved him, and did whatever else that helped me feel better.” – Judy Bierbower, in memory of her son, Caleb.

“When my mother died, she left behind the most beautiful African Violets.  I’ve been caring for them ever since, watering and feeding them.  Like so many things, they have become a tangible extension of my mother.  When they blossomed recently, it seemed like she was with me again.” – Leah Jones, in loving memory of her mother, Ruth

“It’s good to remember my brother, I’m glad I do. It means he hasn’t gone away; he is still here.  He will always be here, fitting me with shoes three sizes too big, insisting that I be on his team.  Damn, it’s good to be his brother!  It always has been good.  It always will be.” – Mark D. Rittman, “I miss you Roger”

“I don’t understand why people pressure me to take down the pictures and mementos of my ‘daddy’.  I’ll always love him, and I want those reminders surrounding me.” – Connie Lindsley Espinoza, in loving memory of her earthly “daddy,” Verlin “Jim” Lindsley.

“When I see a sunset, spring rain, beautiful billowing clouds, the colors and smell of fall in the air, I can’t help but feel the goodness of nature and the closeness of my loved ones.” – Monica Nelson, in loving memory of her mother, Creta Mullenmaster.

“My grandmother had a tremendous positive influence in my life.  Even after she died, her spirit remained with me.  During the birth of my daughter I knew that Grandma was close by my side; we named Chelsea Maria after her.  I’m convinced that her gifts will always be carried on through my daughter.  And Chelsea will always know her great grandmother, as we keep her memory alive.” – Cindy Leines, in loving memory of her grandmother, Maria Erickson

“His carefree ways have inspired me to live a freer life.  ‘Carpe diem’ (seize the day), has become the motto of my life.  Live life to its fullest, that’s what Rich did.” – Michelle Dubreuil, in loving memory of her brother, Rich.

“Today I saw two deer running through the yard. My first thought was that I wanted to share the sight with my Grandmother.  She always got excited when she was deer.  Perhaps her spirit was present, sharing the moment with me.” – Sherokee Ilse, in loving memory of Gram Kriesch

“I recently went through my closet sorting out things I wanted to give away.  I could have parted with almost anything but clothing that belonged to my Mother.  I wear some of her  things on days I’m homesick for her.  There is one particular sweater that she used to wear a lot; it still smells of her and her kitchen.” – Leah Jones, in loving memory of her mother Ruth.

“My Mom’s death taught me the value of gratitude and the necessity of expressing it regularly.  As a result, my relationship with my father has been immeasurably strengthened.  Now I make a point of calling regularly just to tell him I love him and I’m thinking about him.” – Al Honrath, in memory of his mother, Rose Kerkvliet Honrath.

“Paul and I have learned so much from our precious little son.  We have learned what real love is about.  We have learned, too, that courage and strength can grow as far as we are willing to allow them, and that the human spirit has no limit.” – Cathy Gunning, in loving memory of her son, Freddy.

(Excerpts are from Remembering With Love by Elizabeth Levang)

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In this Psychology Today article, Amy Morin LCSW offered suggestions for coping with the holidays when you are grieving.

https://youtu.be/URm-e2Y4SpM

In this article by Tiffany Ayuda, she shares her personal story of grieving the death of her cousin while celebrating a big life event.

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This article provides more information on unfinished business in grief and offers suggestions for working toward resolutions.

https://youtu.be/RlsupOfGUXY

In this essay, writer Christine Canieso reflects on her personal journey of grappling with unfinished business in her relationship with her father after his death.

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This article by Crystal Raypole further delves into what disenfranchised grief is and offers some suggestions for processing your grief

 

In this powerful video, Mari Okazaki speaks about her personal experience of disenfranchised grief following the death of her mother by suicide.  (Warning: This video includes vivid descriptions of a death by suicide)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HaBoN-lpHU  

The covid-19 pandemic has been a time of enormous loss in the world.  Many people are grieving the deaths of loved ones who died by covid-19 and during the covid-19 pandemic.  We have all experienced a multitude of non-death losses during this pandemic, and for those grieving the death of a loved one, their grief may be complicated by these non-death losses.  This article by The New York Times explores the disenfranchised grief we may be experiencing for the many non-death losses brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.

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https://youtu.be/OVx_aMREnqs

Damn Right I’m Bitter!

Damn Right I’m Angry!

By Mary Van Bockern

 
I heard through the grapevine thatYou think I’m bitter. Damn right I’m bitter! I heard that you wonder if I’m not “stuck” in the angry stage of grief. Damn right I’m angry! It’s only been a few months; who gave you The right to decide how long I should grieve?   My beautiful daughter is dead. Not out on a visit to grandma’s. Not off to school for the day. Dead.   I didn’t pick out her Easter outfit with The intention of burying her in it. I didn’t bathe her little body and brush Her hair knowing it was to be my last Chance to touch her warmth, never imagining The next touch would be of a cold, hard Unmoving little girl.   Damn right I’m bitter! Damn right I’m angry!   You have no right to judge me. Believe me, you have no idea Of what I’m trying to live through   If I make you feel uncomfortable, believe me, You return the feeling. You go home to your healthy, living children And wonder how I can act this way?   You go home to your normal life, while I Go home to face a life without my daughter. The rug has been jerked out from under me. My network of faith, of religion seems to have Collapsed under me, with no safety net. I am tumbling in a foreign life, grasping For something that will help this make sense.   You leave our meeting, rushing to take your Children from the nursery to playschool. You talk about the hassle of finding time to Get your kids’ Christmas outfits bought, Their Christmas pictures taken, the expense of gifts. I leave empty-armed, no hassles for me, Except to return to my quiet empty home. . . alone. No gift expenses for me, except funeral and the Purchase of a plot of ground to place my baby in. No big Christmas outfit decisions, only decisions For a headstone that is supposed to express our Love for our dead daughter.   So. . . you think I’m bitter? You think I’m angry? Damn right I’m bitter! Damn right I’m angry!   Who better?
 

https://youtu.be/uGEwpSqFO_4

Anger In Grief

By Rachel Barletta, Grief Services Coordinator

Anger is a very common experience in grief, but it is an emotion that is often not talked about, accepted, or understood.  People expect to feel sadness when a loved one dies – it is a socially sanctioned and supported experience.  While anger is a common experience, many grievers may worry that their anger is inappropriate, or “wrong”.  Grievers may feel guilt about having this emotional experience.  It is important to remember that anger IS a completely normal and appropriate response to loss. For grievers that are struggling with anger as part of their grieving journey, it can be helpful to take a closer look at the source of this powerful emotion.  When a loved one dies, some grievers may feel angry at the person who died.  You may feel angry that your plans, hopes, and expectations for the future have been dashed.  You may feel angry that you now have to take on challenges and roles that were previously handled by your loved one.  We may have to make difficult decisions, learn new life skills.  Life is all at once more difficult than it was before!  You may no longer have a role that brought meaning to your life, such as being a parent to your child.  While we rationally may not wish to feel anger at our loved ones for the ways in which life has become more challenging in their absence, we are overwhelmed and devastated and it is normal to feel anger. You may feel anger toward health care providers who were involved in your loved one’s care.  We put our trust in health care providers and it can be enormously frustrating when our loved one does not recover as we hope they will, or when we question the care that they received. You may feel anger toward God or a higher power.  You may feel betrayed or abandoned.  Life may seem enormously unfair. You may feel anger at other people in your life – people who do not seem to understand what you are going through, people who seem to take for granted what they have, people who say the wrong things or are not there for you in the way you need them to be. It is also normal to feel angry at yourself.  You may run through thoughts such as “if only I’d. . .”, “I should have. . .”, questioning things you did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say. Anger often arises in response to other emotions that are beneath the surface.  Beneath anger there is often a sense of helplessness, sadness, or fear. Anger is an emotion that needs time and attention. It needs to be expressed and addressed. It can be enormously helpful to have a safe space or person in which to process your feelings of anger in grief. This can be a grief counselor, support group, or trusted friend or family member.  Sometimes voicing our anger and telling our story (and at times, telling it again, and again), can help diffuse our anger.  Telling our story in a safe and trusted environment can help us uncover the pain that may be beneath the surface of our anger.  Talking to a counselor or attending a support group can be particularly valuable, as we can learn coping strategies for managing anger when it arises. I want to offer some practical suggestions for addressing and coping with anger. -      First and foremost, find a safe place to discuss how you’re feeling. As previously stated, grief counseling may be a helpful outlet for expressing and exploring your feelings. Talk to someone who you trust, someone who is there for you and willing to listen without judgement, someone who you feel may have some insight into what you are experiencing. -      Sometimes you may prefer to express your feelings aloud to yourself. Find a safe space in which you have privacy.  Speak aloud about the anger you are feeling.  Yell if you need to. -      If you are unable or unwilling to speak about your anger, writing can be another helpful outlet.  Keep a journal in which you can let out and reflect on what you are feeling.  Or, rather than keeping a formal journal, write about your anger on a piece of paper and rip it up or crumple it up, and throw it out.  The act of throwing away or ripping up what we write can feel like a symbolic “letting go”. -      I want to stress again that anger is a completely normal experience in grieving.  At times you may need to remind yourself (and remind yourself again) that it is okay to feel angry, that there is nothing wrong with you, that you are not a bad person for feeling this way, that this is not a feeling you need to push away or deny. At times it is helpful to employ coping or self-care strategies to diffuse anger when it arises. I want to offer some suggestions that may help shift your mood or lessen the intensity of emotions when they arise. -      Take a break.  Go do something that you enjoy, such as gardening, listening to or playing music, sitting or walking outside in nature, playing a game, doing a craft, etc.  Sometimes these activities can slow our racing mind and bring us more peacefully into the present moment. -      Be active.  Talk a walk or exercise if you’re able. -      Practice self-compassion.  Try to show kindness and understanding toward yourself for what you are feeling.  It can be helpful to imagine that a loved one is going through what we are going through. How would you respond to and support your loved one in their suffering?  Practice treating yourself in the same way. -      Develop affirmations that help shift your perspective and help you feel more able to cope.  These will be individual to you.  Perhaps you can tell yourself “I will be okay”, or “I can get through today”.  Write these down and put them somewhere where you can regularly see them. -      Consciously practice gratitude.  Every day, reflect on things in your life that you are grateful for. This may feel enormously difficult when we are devastated by grief.  If you are struggling with this practice, think small.  Perhaps you can find gratitude for a sunny day, for a warm cup of coffee, for a call from a friend. -      Look into relaxation and mindfulness strategies.  These may be deep breathing exercises, formal meditation, yoga or mindful movement, etc.  There are many articles and videos available on the internet, or you can reach out to a counselor who can help work with you on building these skills." 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Dr. Alan Wolfelt discusses the multitude of feelings in grief and offers suggestions for coping.


Tanya Villanueva Tepper shares her personal experiences with grief and insight into the grieving process.
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  Virtual Grief Series

Week 6 – Building An Ongoing Connection With Your Loved One

https://youtu.be/QlFnDlyvu_4 In 

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Week 5 – Life Events

https://youtu.be/-dNZEa5bJqM In 

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Week 4 – Unfinished Business

https://youtu.be/kZxCtcV0wcg

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Week 3 – Disenfranchised Grief

https://youtu.be/1SCGq8dWwe0  

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Week 2 – Anger

https://youtu.be/OVx_aMREnqs

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Week 1 – Feelings in Grief

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