Coping With the Death of A Child
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Grieving ParentsThe parent-child relationship is physically, socially, and psychologically unique from all other human relationships, and no parent ever wants to think about that relationship ending with the death of their child.  However, parents all over the world lose children each and every day, and they must find a way not only to cope, but to move forward and have a meaningful life after their child has died. 

 The first thing to recognize is that in the days and even months following the death, you will likely deal with a flood of emotions ranging from depression, to anger, and in some cases even guilt.  It might be helpful to keep a journal where you can express your feelings and emotions.  You might also want to write down fond memories of your child as they occur.  This ritual is a great way to stay connected to your child and the life that you experienced together.  Finally, you might consider purchasing a keepsake box to store some of the special items that spark happy memories of your child. 

 Every person handles grief in their own way and there is no single solution that works for everyone.  That said, some coping strategies other parents have found helpful include crying and letting your feelings out; changing your child’s room, or donating the child’s clothing to feel your are helping someone else; doing nice things for yourself such as going on vacation, shopping, to a spa, out to eat; and helping others who are also dealing with grief.  If spirituality is important to you, you could also read the bible, attend church or pray for strength and courage. 

 Remember that you will need the support of friends and family as you cope with your child’s death.  It’s possible that people will avoid mentioning your child’s name for fear of causing you pain.  However, if you need someone to listen, you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about your child as much and as often as you want.  To this end, you might consider joining one of the many support groups that can be found through a church or hospital.  Talking with others who are experiencing similar feelings can be very helpful in the grieving process.         

However you choose to cope with the death of your child, just remember that moving forward does not mean moving on.  As time passes and you begin your new, healthy life, you can take comfort in the fact that your child will always be with you in your heart.

 If you need assistance in locating grief support groups, books, brochures or other resources, please do not hesitate to contact us anytime.  

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.                                                     727-822-2059


Your Head Knows What Your Heart Doesn’t Feel
Friday, February 26th, 2010

Your brain understands the reality of death.  It reminds you that you are indeed still here, while your loved one is not.  Your brain gives you the ability to understand the logical aspects of death, and it helps you to move forward as you continue living your life.

However, the heart has no brain cells.  The heart feels the absence of someone loved.  The heart remembers love shared, dreams unfulfilled and words unspoken.  The heart yearns for what the brain knows to be impossible.  With every significant injury, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, healing requires time, usually more time than we ever imagined.

If you’ve ever experienced a surgical procedure, you know that the pain is very real even if the scar can’t be seen.  We become protective of the part of our body that bears the scar because if that tender part is bumped or nudged, the pain can begin anew. Even when our body is completely healed, the scar lingers, sort of a badge of courage, reminding us of what we have lived through and reinforcing that we are not the same person we were before the surgery.

Our heart is no different. Grief is an emotional surgery, and we grieve the way we loved. We may appear fine on the outside, but the pain of death is alive inside.  Yes, the pain does lessen and hearts do heal, but a scar remains.  Our scar can be bumped in many ways, at births, weddings and graduations – times when the absence of our loved one may be felt strongly.

Certain scents can “bump” our scar and remind us of what was. Music can nudge your scar, especially when you hear your loved one’s favorite song or a hymn.  An unrelated death can open your original scar and produce pain. The things that nudge or bump will be unique to you and aren’t necessarily bad. Yes, we shed tears, miss and yearn for our loved one, but the important part is that we remember.  Remembering gives us new hope.

Memories can be held close in our hearts, and no one or nothing can take them away. Love does not die, people do, so you can move on into your grief journey, take the bumps and bouts of grief and keep your loved one in your heart forever.

Joy and Sadness of the Holiday Season
Thursday, October 1st, 2009

mcleodGood Mourning with Carole McLeod

When you ask someone who is confronted with a catastrophic illness or death of a loved one, “What do you want for Christmas?” the answer typically will be, “To have my loved one back and go on with life the way it was.”

joysadnessHolidays are about being together with the important people in your life including your spouse, children, family, and friends gathering together to make more memories and creating more traditions. But what is actually happening is a renewed sense of personal grief. When a loved one is very ill or has died, even the memories of holidays past can be too painful to think about, let alone beginning new ones without that person.

Here are some tools to help make these times a little easier and less stressful, create a new meaning for yourself, and to cope a little better with your sadness and stress.

Be patient and realistic with yourself. We know how things ought to be and we remember how they were; now you must decide what you are capable of doing with these celebrations, leaving the words ought and should out of the plans.

Communicate. Inform other family members what you would like to do. At the same time consider their needs, it’s a delicate balance to do what is best for you and for them. Allow the tears to come- talk about your loved one, use their name, remember the past holiday celebrations, and encourage those around you to do the same. You might find yourself crying and laughing at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to change traditional routines for this year. Try whatever pops into your head. You can always change it back to the way it was later. You might want to go back to the way you previously celebrated when your grief has lessened.

Mind your finances. Do not try to mask the pain by overspending.

Plan ahead. Anticipation is usually worse than the actual event. Take one day at a time, simplify the activities, and let go of those you can’t handle.

Honor the memory of your loved one. Include them in the celebrations, decorate the grave or niche with a wreath, flower arrangement, or balloons. Consider donating an item or money in their name to a charity, organization or church they valued.

Take care of yourself. Eat a well-balanced diet, get lots of rest and exercise, and know that these feelings of grief are normal.

Remember these are just guidelines to help you cope with your holidays. Everyone is unique, and what works for some will not work for others. Keep repeating to yourself,”I will do what is easier and best for me”.

Tree of Memories Annual Holiday Program
Tyrone Chapel – 7820 38th Ave. North
Sunday, December 6th – 12:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Reserve your ornaments HERE

The Grief Journey
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

grief_smWhen a loved one has died, you begin your grief journey. This process is painful, disturbing and sometimes confusing. In order to heal you need to become an active participant in your healing process (your grief journey). Understanding your grief, how and why you are feeling the way you do can encourage you through this journey.

Traveling on your grief journey, you will experience obstacles that are known as shock, numbness, disbelief, searching, yearning, guilt, anger, depression and finally, reconciliation. Eventually, you will learn how to live without the physical being of your loved one; but with the love and memories that you have with them. Throughout your journey, give yourself permission to embrace your grief by:

Crying – Allow yourself the healing effect of tears. Tears are a natural way of releasing the tension that comes with sorrow. You will feel better afterwards and will have started your healing process.

Talking – Talk about your loved one and how you are feeling. Develop a support system within your family or with a close friend. Choose someone who will be an active listener; one who is not judgmental, critical and might extinguish your need to mourn openly. Remember, it’s your grief! You have the right to express it the way you want.

Remembering – Memories are the lasting part of a relationship with the person who has died. They may be happy or sad, but don’t be afraid to experience your memories. Hold them in your heart throughout your journey.

Journal – Release your emotions on paper. Keep a journal of what is going on inside. Go back in a few months and compare it with how you feel at that point. This is a good way to see how far you have traveled in your grief journey.

Join a support group – It may be helpful to share with others who are going through the same process. A support group will also give you opportunities to learn new ways of approaching problems and help you not only regain confidence within yourself, but trust in your neighbors, family and friends.

Seek out resources – Books, videos, tapes, magazine articles and other materials will aid you with your grief work. You may want to see a professional counselor to discuss special problems or seek advice.

For more information about the support services available from Anderson-McQueen, please call Carole McLeod at 727-347-6636.

Old Enough to Love…Old Enough to Grieve
Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

oldenoughtogrieveAs Dr. Alan Wolfelt, noted author and grief psychologist states, “if a child is old enough to love, then they are old enough to grieve.” Many times the loss of a beloved pet is a child’s first experience with death. While it can be painful, it is also an opportunity for parents to teach children about how to deal with death in an emotionally healthy manner.Through their parents’ example, children can learn how to grieve while appreciating the life of a beautiful creature, and also how to be compassionate to others who have been touched by death.

Though the impulse may be to shield a child from mortal realities, honesty is important. Avoid euphemisms like “put to sleep” or saying that the pet has gone to live somewhere “in the country.” Small children may come to associate sleep with dying, and fibbing about a pet “going away” not only undermines a child’s trust, but also robs children of the opportunity to properly reflect on how much their animal companion meant to them. Gently make it clear that the pet will not be coming back, but that the animal is free of pain.

Then encourage children to express their grief as part of the healing process. Don’t tell a child to “be strong.” As a family, share happy recollections of the pet and allow the tears to flow. As much as possible, make the child a part of family decisions concerning how the loss will be handled. Of course, a pet’s death also calls for plenty of hugs and reassurance. You might also want to share news of the pet’s death with your child’s teachers, coaches or the parents of your child’s friends so that they too can be understanding.

As with the loss of a human loved one, ritualized responses to death can also be of comfort. Providing a child an opportunity to “say goodbye” to their beloved companion can be very important to their well-being. Veterinary Technician, a veterinary trade publication, offers suggestions as to how a child might honor the memory of a pet:

  • Have the child write a letter to the pet, expressing his or
    her feelings.
  • Conduct a proper burial or cremation.
  • Place a marker with a nameplate or inscription near the
    pet’s grave.
  • Put the pet’s ashes in a potted plant, urn or under a favorite tree.
  • Convert a favorite photo of the pet into a framed portrait.
  • Keep the pet’s identification tags on a key ring, necklace or charm bracelet.
  • Honor the pet by volunteering at a local humane shelter.
  • Make a donation in the pet’s name to a organization such as an animal rescue center or an animal hospital.

By sharing grief, the loving bonds between parent and child are strengthened, and children come to recognize their families as a place of solace in a time of sadness.

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