Grief happens…How do we deal with it?

Guest Column

“In these past six weeks since my dad died, I’m not really able to sleep. Am not sure what to do. My job depends on my concentration. I need my job to support my family. How do I deal with this?”

“My brother died suddenly two months ago in a horrible car accident. I didn’t have a chance to say good-bye. All I do now is snap at my family and my friends for no reason at all. What’s wrong with me?”

“Ever since my miscarriage, I just can’t seem to talk to my best friend without crying and feeling weak. Will I ever feel peaceful and happy again?”

These three scenarios are not fictitious. They are silent or spoken “cries for help” heard every day at a bereavement center. Most people who are grieving don’t know that unless they deal with their grief and own it, they are not able to let go of it and move on with their lives. Stuffing the grief and the tears seems to be the easiest route at first, but in the long run, it only prolongs the internalized sadness.

At Bon Secours Hampton Roads (BSHR) Bereavement Center in Denbigh, grief groups allow participants a means of “sharing personal stories” aloud. Taking a risk and being vulnerable is critical to healing. Grieving adults and children help each other develop bonds that may last a lifetime. In addition, the center offers self-help groups, such as the Caregiver Group, Parkinson’s Group or Healing Touch. Men and women set time aside to listen to and support each other and “become family.” Whether it is breaking bread via homemade cookies or sharing recent “Things That Worked for Me as Caregiver,” the call is to invite other human beings “to make the connection.” The invitation is there “to feel a part of” and “to not feel alone.” Other specialty groups such as “Parents of Children Who Have Died,” Kidz’N Grief and Perinatal Loss Support are growing in attendance. Each group is led by a trained facilitator (or facilitators), who recognizes the importance of respecting emotional needs of each person. The BSHR Center functions under the mission statement “to give good help to the poor, the dying and the underserved.”

Every day loss is experienced. When a loved one dies, we lose a part of ourselves. The grief remains until we make an effort to face it. Sometimes the intensity of the grief is such that we fear the times when family or co-workers simply inquire, “How are things going?” We don’t know how to share our real feelings without feeling guilty. Sometimes we think we are “going crazy” when we read our loved one’s handwritten letter and burst into tears. Sometimes the wave of grief overwhelms us. We have the right to express our emotions. We have the right to treasure our special memories and precious photos. This is all normal and natural. No one ever taught us that tears are not weakness, but more a means of release and appreciation of life and love.

Sister David Ann Niski
About Sister David Ann Niski 6 Articles
Sister David Ann Niski is executive director of the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters Foundation. A strong advocate and supporter of the Virginia Peninsula not-for-profit agencies, she can be reached at 757-886-6025 or by e-mail at david_niski@bshsi.org.

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