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LOSS Program Office
721 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60654

Main Line: (312) 655-7283
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Featured this Month:

From the Desk of Father Rubey
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Father Rubey
I recently had the opportunity to co-facilitate one of our monthly grief support groups. Fully half of the group members were totally new to LOSS, having lost their loved ones to suicide just a couple of months ago. Many different relationship losses were represented and the ages of those who had died reached across the life span. Some group members had prior awareness of their loved one’s struggles and vulnerabilities, while others had absolutely no idea that this tragedy could ever be a possibility in their family. And while they told different stories of their loved ones’ path to suicide, they shared similar concerns and questions. I imagine that some were also wrestling with questions or doubts that they may not have wanted to voice, yet.

Survivors come to LOSS groups seeking many things: solace, understanding, hope, perhaps some guidance and a bit of wisdom from those who are further down the path. We know that the psychological pain that grievers experience in the aftermath of their loved one’s death is like nothing previously experienced. Most survivors find themselves trying to walk in their loved one’s shoes, as an attempt to get inside the mind of their loved one, to answer the question, "Why?" What could possibly have led to this deadly behavior? And many survivors wrestle with the questions about what the death means for their relationship. “Was she trying to tell me something?” “It feels very much like she was telling me something about our relationship; about the kind of brother or sister I was, the kind of mother or father I was, the kind of husband or wife I was. These questions strike at the heart of our fragile identities and intensify the already painful thoughts that arise about who we thought we were. Many survivors tell us that in the first months they sometimes feel like they are coming unhinged. Many report experiencing a roller coaster of emotions that they take as evidence of coming unhinged. Survivors who are further down the road would assure newcomers that this is how it feels to lose a loved one to suicide. It just comes with the territory. Hearing this is not much comfort for the newly bereaved who want to know, “So how am I supposed to survive this?” It’s true that every survivor needs a way to get through it. And because every griever is unique we can’t prescribe anything specific that is guaranteed to relieve the pain or shorten the journey. But we can accompany you as you explore and wrestle with your grief.

My colleague, Cindy Waderlow recently wrote a piece (Obelisk, March 2017) about the use of metaphor as a way to explore, embody, share and transform grief. We often refer to the experience as a journey, which metaphorically suggests a path, ideally forward movement (although not necessarily straight and not necessarily rapid), an opportunity to see new sights, to grow, to learn and to change. As I meet new grievers I reflect on what they might use to make their way down the path. I am reminded of a gentleman who called us from the east coast asking whether there was a LOSS Program near his town. During that call he spontaneously recited poem after poem that he had written about his son’s death and about his relationship with his son. The poems practically tumbled out of his mouth as he spoke about his loss. I could hear that they were for him a vehicle for his journey, the way that he explored, shared and transformed his grief at this point along the way. They also confirmed for him that he still had within him a spark of creativity that had not died, and that could be pressed into service for this very painful work. I don’t hold this out as an exemplar for others to try (unless writing poetry holds a special appeal). I do hope to suggest that each griever brings something to this experience that can be used to construct a seaworthy vessel for the journey. It may be something that taps into existing interests, or skills, or it might mean learning a new skill or getting involved with something new.

Survivors have done many things as part of their journey toward healing. Some have created new prevention programs, drafted new laws to protect children, left jobs that felt unsatisfying, changed careers, engaged in meaningful volunteer work, become foster parents, gone back to school, given psychoeducational talks about suicide, etc. These examples are not meant to suggest that some huge sweeping life change is required in order to heal. Grievers do things large and small to keep moving forward. Just continuing to move forward one step at a time brings about a kind of transformation. This might mean coming to LOSS groups and sharing hard won gains with those more newly bereaved; or joining a walk, or getting involved as an advocate for prevention efforts. Whatever you choose will hopefully have personal meaning for you. In the same way that trying on your loved one’s shoes as a way of trying to understand the death seems to be virtually universal, the eventual ability to take off the shoes and to disentangle feelings about the manner of death from the fullness of your loved one’s life can be seen as a significant sign of growth. Finding private or public ways to honor your loved one’s life and rediscovering gratitude for your own life and for the life of your loved one are also important signs of healing. We haven’t found a shortcut through the pain yet. We recognize this as an intensely challenging process that presents opportunities for transformative growth. We think it helps to set an intention to heal, to be willing to challenge old values and assumptions that no longer fit, and to open to the possibility of accepting support from your fellow grievers and others who can help you navigate the storm. The LOSS Program has existed since 1979 with the unique mission of providing grief support to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Our goal remains to help you find community, direction and resources for healing.

Keep On Keepin’ On,



Archives:

From the Desk of Father Rubey
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Father Rubey
I recently had the opportunity to co-facilitate one of our monthly grief support groups. Fully half of the group members were totally new to LOSS, having lost their loved ones to suicide just a couple of months ago. Many different relationship losses were represented and the ages of those who had died reached across the life span. Some group members had prior awareness of their loved one’s struggles and vulnerabilities, while others had absolutely no idea that this tragedy could ever be a possibility in their family. And while they told different stories of their loved ones’ path to suicide, they shared similar concerns and questions. I imagine that some were also wrestling with questions or doubts that they may not have wanted to voice, yet.

Survivors come to LOSS groups seeking many things: solace, understanding, hope, perhaps some guidance and a bit of wisdom from those who are further down the path. We know that the psychological pain that grievers experience in the aftermath of their loved one’s death is like nothing previously experienced. Most survivors find themselves trying to walk in their loved one’s shoes, as an attempt to get inside the mind of their loved one, to answer the question, "Why?" What could possibly have led to this deadly behavior? And many survivors wrestle with the questions about what the death means for their relationship. “Was she trying to tell me something?” “It feels very much like she was telling me something about our relationship; about the kind of brother or sister I was, the kind of mother or father I was, the kind of husband or wife I was. These questions strike at the heart of our fragile identities and intensify the already painful thoughts that arise about who we thought we were. Many survivors tell us that in the first months they sometimes feel like they are coming unhinged. Many report experiencing a roller coaster of emotions that they take as evidence of coming unhinged. Survivors who are further down the road would assure newcomers that this is how it feels to lose a loved one to suicide. It just comes with the territory. Hearing this is not much comfort for the newly bereaved who want to know, “So how am I supposed to survive this?” It’s true that every survivor needs a way to get through it. And because every griever is unique we can’t prescribe anything specific that is guaranteed to relieve the pain or shorten the journey. But we can accompany you as you explore and wrestle with your grief.

My colleague, Cindy Waderlow recently wrote a piece (Obelisk, March 2017) about the use of metaphor as a way to explore, embody, share and transform grief. We often refer to the experience as a journey, which metaphorically suggests a path, ideally forward movement (although not necessarily straight and not necessarily rapid), an opportunity to see new sights, to grow, to learn and to change. As I meet new grievers I reflect on what they might use to make their way down the path. I am reminded of a gentleman who called us from the east coast asking whether there was a LOSS Program near his town. During that call he spontaneously recited poem after poem that he had written about his son’s death and about his relationship with his son. The poems practically tumbled out of his mouth as he spoke about his loss. I could hear that they were for him a vehicle for his journey, the way that he explored, shared and transformed his grief at this point along the way. They also confirmed for him that he still had within him a spark of creativity that had not died, and that could be pressed into service for this very painful work. I don’t hold this out as an exemplar for others to try (unless writing poetry holds a special appeal). I do hope to suggest that each griever brings something to this experience that can be used to construct a seaworthy vessel for the journey. It may be something that taps into existing interests, or skills, or it might mean learning a new skill or getting involved with something new.

Survivors have done many things as part of their journey toward healing. Some have created new prevention programs, drafted new laws to protect children, left jobs that felt unsatisfying, changed careers, engaged in meaningful volunteer work, become foster parents, gone back to school, given psychoeducational talks about suicide, etc. These examples are not meant to suggest that some huge sweeping life change is required in order to heal. Grievers do things large and small to keep moving forward. Just continuing to move forward one step at a time brings about a kind of transformation. This might mean coming to LOSS groups and sharing hard won gains with those more newly bereaved; or joining a walk, or getting involved as an advocate for prevention efforts. Whatever you choose will hopefully have personal meaning for you. In the same way that trying on your loved one’s shoes as a way of trying to understand the death seems to be virtually universal, the eventual ability to take off the shoes and to disentangle feelings about the manner of death from the fullness of your loved one’s life can be seen as a significant sign of growth. Finding private or public ways to honor your loved one’s life and rediscovering gratitude for your own life and for the life of your loved one are also important signs of healing. We haven’t found a shortcut through the pain yet. We recognize this as an intensely challenging process that presents opportunities for transformative growth. We think it helps to set an intention to heal, to be willing to challenge old values and assumptions that no longer fit, and to open to the possibility of accepting support from your fellow grievers and others who can help you navigate the storm. The LOSS Program has existed since 1979 with the unique mission of providing grief support to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Our goal remains to help you find community, direction and resources for healing.

Keep On Keepin’ On,