Get Help Now!  (312) 655-7700
 

Newsletters & Articles


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

Main Line: (312) 655-7283
Fax Line: (312) 948-3340

Featured this Month:

Time
Friday, January 26, 2018 by Cynthia Waderlow MSE, LCSW
Moving into 2018 many of us recognize a milestone. It can mean endurance, affirmation of the loss after struggling with the reality of it, opening to another year of the void, and for some who have stayed with grief for a longer period of time, it might mean new goals for the reconstruction of life. As a LOSS counselor one of the first questions I hear adults ask is, “How long will I be in so much pain?” For reasons to which I can only speculate, I have not heard this question from a child or adolescent.

Time is a strong element of grief. Some moments seem unendurable, and we may look for distractions from the pain. You might recall the late Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards. After their teenaged son died in an accident, Elizabeth used the television daily as a buffer for her terrible grief. For months after her son’s death she kept the television on and tuned to the weather station. She said that this was just enough distraction to keep her grounded by companion voices and uninteresting content. It allowed her to move through those moments of grief with some commitment to conscious awareness of her experience.

Yes, the excruciating presence to early grief can test our will to survive. Yet, grief specialists suggest that conscious grieving processes put us on the path to recovery. Everyone’s grief experience is unique, and we each have unique attachment histories that impact our individual grief processes. We are grieving different kinds of relationship losses, and our unique personalities influence our capacities for resilience. We must start where we are. So, time will provide different challenges and benefits as we engage with grief. Not only might time suggest the prospect of an endless struggle or possible relief, but it asks, “How much time am I capable of giving to my grief? How often can I open to the pain of my loss?” It is a mistake to grapple with absolutes regarding our capacity for the rigors of the grief process. Truly, grief is a moment to moment process for which we will, with practice, develop some tolerance. We are entitled to the natural analgesics provided by the shock that sudden bereavement triggers, periods of rest from grief after we experience its magnitude, as well as various distractions to provide balance as we engage with the grief journey. Rather than framing grief as an indefinite sentence, we can practice giving time to grief. We might feel a little less at sea, and slightly more in control of our experience as we increase our capacity for an authentic grief process with small steps. Perhaps the fear, anger and self-blame that often characterizes early grief can be assuaged after we have learned to focus awareness around the more fragile feelings which are also present, such as love, sorrow and respect for our loved one’s pain. Choosing when we open to the feelings of loss can be a positive learned defense against the intense waves of grief. Designated grief time can provide structure for chaotic emotions and function as an aid to sanity. It becomes available when we schedule group and counseling sessions, visits to the cemetery, participate in rituals like LOSS’ Evening of Remembrance, or create our own rituals to be shared with our children and siblings. When we practice anniversary and birthday rituals, create masses and private ceremonies, tree planting, letters to the person who died, alters of remembrance, grief journals, scrap books and bed-time check-ins with our children to share grief moments … then we are modeling emotionally safe, structured expressions of grief.

While grieving our loss we can renew resolution to give time to our children. When we practice prioritizing our children, who have their own, organic and intermittent way of grieving a major loss, we offer ourselves the possibility of renewal. An important aspect of healing traumatic loss is through relationship. Bearing witness to grief does not necessarily require confrontation, heavy emotional exchange or tears, but rather noticing and touching in to the young person with whom we have connected. It takes only a moment. And because our lives are now informed by grief, courage will be present in our children’s efforts to bake a cake, play basketball and complete homework. Simple recognition of effort and strength during a time of loss affirms our common experience and keeps us close.

Time figures prominently into the grief process. We can bring awareness to how our use of it can create an authentic, quality experience as we grieve. When we implement experiences of real comfort and useful distractions, we grow in awareness of what is not really important and what adds to our life as we rebuild for ourselves and our children. Grief works its way toward recovery as we give ourselves to the moment by moment process. Loving intention can guide our grief practice. Let us actively love the one we have lost, our surviving loved ones and ourselves as we move forward.



Archives:

Time
Friday, January 26, 2018 by Cynthia Waderlow MSE, LCSW
Moving into 2018 many of us recognize a milestone. It can mean endurance, affirmation of the loss after struggling with the reality of it, opening to another year of the void, and for some who have stayed with grief for a longer period of time, it might mean new goals for the reconstruction of life. As a LOSS counselor one of the first questions I hear adults ask is, “How long will I be in so much pain?” For reasons to which I can only speculate, I have not heard this question from a child or adolescent.

Time is a strong element of grief. Some moments seem unendurable, and we may look for distractions from the pain. You might recall the late Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards. After their teenaged son died in an accident, Elizabeth used the television daily as a buffer for her terrible grief. For months after her son’s death she kept the television on and tuned to the weather station. She said that this was just enough distraction to keep her grounded by companion voices and uninteresting content. It allowed her to move through those moments of grief with some commitment to conscious awareness of her experience.

Yes, the excruciating presence to early grief can test our will to survive. Yet, grief specialists suggest that conscious grieving processes put us on the path to recovery. Everyone’s grief experience is unique, and we each have unique attachment histories that impact our individual grief processes. We are grieving different kinds of relationship losses, and our unique personalities influence our capacities for resilience. We must start where we are. So, time will provide different challenges and benefits as we engage with grief. Not only might time suggest the prospect of an endless struggle or possible relief, but it asks, “How much time am I capable of giving to my grief? How often can I open to the pain of my loss?” It is a mistake to grapple with absolutes regarding our capacity for the rigors of the grief process. Truly, grief is a moment to moment process for which we will, with practice, develop some tolerance. We are entitled to the natural analgesics provided by the shock that sudden bereavement triggers, periods of rest from grief after we experience its magnitude, as well as various distractions to provide balance as we engage with the grief journey. Rather than framing grief as an indefinite sentence, we can practice giving time to grief. We might feel a little less at sea, and slightly more in control of our experience as we increase our capacity for an authentic grief process with small steps. Perhaps the fear, anger and self-blame that often characterizes early grief can be assuaged after we have learned to focus awareness around the more fragile feelings which are also present, such as love, sorrow and respect for our loved one’s pain. Choosing when we open to the feelings of loss can be a positive learned defense against the intense waves of grief. Designated grief time can provide structure for chaotic emotions and function as an aid to sanity. It becomes available when we schedule group and counseling sessions, visits to the cemetery, participate in rituals like LOSS’ Evening of Remembrance, or create our own rituals to be shared with our children and siblings. When we practice anniversary and birthday rituals, create masses and private ceremonies, tree planting, letters to the person who died, alters of remembrance, grief journals, scrap books and bed-time check-ins with our children to share grief moments … then we are modeling emotionally safe, structured expressions of grief.

While grieving our loss we can renew resolution to give time to our children. When we practice prioritizing our children, who have their own, organic and intermittent way of grieving a major loss, we offer ourselves the possibility of renewal. An important aspect of healing traumatic loss is through relationship. Bearing witness to grief does not necessarily require confrontation, heavy emotional exchange or tears, but rather noticing and touching in to the young person with whom we have connected. It takes only a moment. And because our lives are now informed by grief, courage will be present in our children’s efforts to bake a cake, play basketball and complete homework. Simple recognition of effort and strength during a time of loss affirms our common experience and keeps us close.

Time figures prominently into the grief process. We can bring awareness to how our use of it can create an authentic, quality experience as we grieve. When we implement experiences of real comfort and useful distractions, we grow in awareness of what is not really important and what adds to our life as we rebuild for ourselves and our children. Grief works its way toward recovery as we give ourselves to the moment by moment process. Loving intention can guide our grief practice. Let us actively love the one we have lost, our surviving loved ones and ourselves as we move forward.