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Death

How You Grieve Can Not Be Predicted Nor How Long

How you grieve can not be predicted nor how long.  Also it can not be avoided or it will cause irrevocable damage.  Grief over the loss of a child can cause relationships to fail especially when  communication shuts down.  Grief can’t be easily avoided or ignored.  A person can grieve for any loss or impending loss such as the loss of a job, having a child leave home, etc.

The longest I grieved was five years (and it’s really not over yet.) and the deaths were unexpected and tragic.  I never have forgotten my dear, dear, friend (who was like a sister to me) who was pregnant and her toddler daughter who died on the way home for my friend and her husband to tell both sets of grandparents she was expecting.  Shock is hardly the word for how I reacted.  They have always been in my heart and mind and I marked the occasion for several years on my friend’s birthday.rp_3704705698_7d71898ce1_m.jpg

There are several stages of grief and a person does not go through them in any particular order.  This statement was made by Dr. Elisabeth-Kubler Ross herself at a workshop I attended.  Different sources on the internet say different.  They say that people progress through these stages in a particular order.  Actually a person can bounce back and forth between them.  A person may think that they have completed a certain stage and then he or she goes back through one of them again.

The stages are:  denial,  bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance.  Denial is not being able to accept the the loss has happened or that the impending loss will occur.  Such as “No, no, he or she can’t be dead” or not accepting a diagnosis of terminal illness.  Pretending that a spouse who leaves is not gone for good and is going to come back when he or she returns to their right mind are other ways that a person can deny that a loss has or will occur.  Bargaining  is making a deal with God or other sources of power that the person will not die or some loss will not occur if the person who is doing the bargaining does some particular thing.   A person can be angry at the person or situation that caused the loss or at the deceased for leaving them alone.  Depression occurs when the person   realizes that the loss is permanent and the person left behind doesn’t know how they can be able to stand it.   Realizing that life will go on after the loss or that no matter what a person does the loss has or will occur is part of acceptance.

What is dangerous is that people who are grieving will isolate themselves and not encourage anyone to console them.  People in different stages of grieve often clash and harm rather than help each other.  People who grieve can project their anger on to others and even go so far as to seek revenge.  Many people who grieve feel helpless and unable to cope.  They can even become irrational and impossible to reason with.   Many deaths are just senseless and can’t be rationalized in any way.  For example, a random killing by a person bent on killing someone and doesn’t care who it is or a death or deaths from an auto accident killing whoever happened to be there at that place and time such as in my girlfriend’s case..

For example, years after my father died I got to see his death certificate and found that he died from multiple bed sores which was probably the fault of the nursing home.  My father had dementia and was irrational and unreasonable at times.  He remained a strong man and my mother could not handle him.  We grown children all lived away from home and she relied on neighbors and other family members to help her with him when he became aggressive.  For over a year after my father’s death, she couldn’t be reasoned with because she continued to constantly blame herself for putting him in the nursing home.   We all thought that she should have given up taking care of him by herself years earlier.  Now I know why she wouldn’t listen to us when we tried to talk to her.

Learning Through Experience

happyoldercoupleLearning through experience is sometimes the best way.  If things don’t happen to you early in life, how will you be able to cope with them later in life?  We all wish for our children to have happy uneventful lives, but is this the best thing to want to have happen for them?  If we could insure that the rest of their lives would stay this way, then that would be ideal and they wouldn’t have had to deal with unpleasant things.

Learning through experience is sometimes skipped by people in some areas of life.  For example, a woman meets the man of her dreams in high school, they have a long and happy marriage with nothing happening to upset the applecart while they were together.  Then one of them dies and the other one does not know how they will get along without the other.  There was always someone else to rely on to do the things that he or she didn’t learn how to do.  What happens in this worst case scenario?  Someone has to cook, do laundry, clean house, pay bills, and deal with the unpleasant details of planning a funeral or administering an estate (especially if there are unexpected expenses or unpaid debts belonging to the departed).

Learning through experience often seems to be the hardest way to learn.  There is a price to pay but whether it is money, pain, loss, or sorrow, it usually leaves the learner with some new usually hard-earned skills.

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Suicide, What’s The Matter

I have a hard time with condemning people to hell and with not burying suicide victims in a consecrated cemetery.  Even those who believe in reincarnation do not give an

inch.  Victims have toDetail of The Death of Socrates. A disciple is...

come right back and deal with the same situation that was associated with their suicides.  I have noted recently a change in attitudes toward homosexuality and homosexual marriage by politicians who have discovered that at least one member of their family is a homosexual.  What next?  Will there be a change in some prominent people’s attitudes towards suicide when one of their family dies that way?

Suicide is often committed when people are experiencing the dark night of their soul.  Mother Teresa had one of these experiences, but I don’t know if she thought of taking her own life when it happened.  At one point I even thought of giving my own life (which I felt was worthless except for this purpose) so that others could be saved.  Martyrdom is overrated.  How can people come to think of themselves as so worthless?

People are constantly competing with each other to be better than somebody else.  Some people become suicidal when they think that they have lost this competition.  Others have so many demons that their life is torture.  For some people dying a “natural” death is so agonizing and costly for the survivors that they want to save themselves from the torture and not handicap the survivors who are already grieving with medical and funeral bills. Combat veterans realistically relive the horrifying nightmare of combat over and over again without any relief.

Believe it or not, I am not encouraging suicide.  I am just trying to get you to see the state of mind that some people are in when they are thinking about suicide.  At the time, there appears to be no way out, but suicide.  Suicidal people often feel that they are alone and friendless and have exhausted all other ways to solve their problems.

Wait a minute.  There are  people (often with personality disorders) who repeatedly make suicidal gestures, but even they can miscalculate and commit suicide when they didn’t intend to.  A dosage they thought was not lethal turns out to be lethal or the person that they counted on to rescue them does not turn up on time.

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What A Way To Go!

Paradise: Ascent of the Blessed

Paradise: Ascent of the Blessed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaving this world happens in many ways.  Sudden death with unresolved issues is one of the worst.  Along with this is any anticipated death with unresolved issues that the dying person doesn’t get to deal with before they die, maybe because they are dying alone.  But when we keep in mind the needs of the dying, we can help them even if we are not family or close friends.  The person or persons who keep those who are near death company provide more than a needed service, they give of themselves.

A friend of mine has been taking the time to go and visit her friend’s mother in the hospital.  Both her friend’s mother and her friend’s husband are terminally ill and her friend can’t be with both people at once.  My friend’s husband is unhappy with her spending so much time with her friend’s mother.  Don’t you think she is providing a priceless gift of service to her friend and her friend’s mother?

When people are at the end of their life, they have to deal with so many challenges and are often neglected for patients who have a better prognosis.  Yes, we have the hospice movement, but there are people who fall through the gaps.  Have you read the story about a nursing home who had a cat that would come to a patient’s room when they were near death and stay with them.

 

 

 

 

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Blessings to Those Who Have Loved Ones Who Have Departed This Season

Death Valley

Death Valley (Photo credit: Frank Kehren)

It is a sad time of the year to lose a loved one.  It can make succeeding holiday seasons unhappy ones.  Those who have departed probably would not have wanted to ruin the holidays for you.  Rather the holidays should be a time to remember lost ones with warm memories of times past when you were blessed with their presence.

It is unfortunate, but true, that we can’t have everyone to be with us our entire lifetime.  Some people are with us only for a short time.  It is often a gift that they were with us or we were with them that long.  Often we can not predict when and where we will leave them or they will leave us.  When it happens, it is a shock to the system and we are often left numb.

Sometimes loved ones hang on long after they are ready to leave.  They do so to protect loved ones.  They need to see someone one last time or someone needs to see them one last time or in the case of an impending birth, they want to be there and experience the birth of a child or grandchild.

The timing of a death is sometimes, but not always, chosen by the person who is leaving this earth.  The person or persons who are left behind are often not aware of this and may feel rejected or guilty in response to the passing.  The deceased consciously or unconsciously chooses the time of death and  and who will or will not be there.  This decision is usually made with the best of intentions, but often those surviving don’t know about them and can misinterpret the circumstances surrounding the death.

Sudden deaths, violent deaths, accidental deaths, are the hardest to deal with and can lead to potentially life destroying grief for those who are left behind.  Those with a spiritual path can sometimes cope better with these things than those who don’t.  Those who have a spiritual path, must realize how hard it is for those who don’t and sympathize with them and not make it harder on them by saying that they should have been more spiritual.

Being thankful at the holiday season for all those souls who have touched my soul and who will touch my soul in the future.  Although I may have had you for what seemed like such a short time, I would rather have had you for the limited time I did than not to have had you at all.  Love you, Carol, little Jennifer, and baby-to-be Polnow.  You are always in my heart.

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Death and Children

Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the ...

Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California; originally created in the 1920s for Saint Vibiana Cathedral, Los Angeles Jesus and the children, detail: Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be very careful dealing with death and children.  From many hours of play and drawing therapy, I have found that children often get some strange ideas about bad things that they  have had to face that they have not faced before as very often their frame of reference is different from adults.

For example, when talking about a family member who had died, a child thought that at the funeral, they would see a body without a head.  He or she thought that since the soul had departed, the head would be missing.

Children often do not get the whole picture and/or do not think that death is permanent.  They often only get part of what they are told or they may interrupt it differently than an adult would.

Drawings by children who have faced the death of someone they know or who are sick or injured and are facing their own death often allow the therapist to determine what is going on in the child’s mind.  Drawings by terminally ill children often show that they are aware of their own coming passing.  Those with a spiritual bent often are reassured when a child demonstrates knowledge of an afterlife or heaven and possibly  of angels, God, Jesus, or a loved person or animal that has passed on before them.

It is best when helping these children that you determine what questions they have before giving them answers they are not yet ready for or wouldn’t understand or don’t need.  It is best to fit explanations to the child’s point of view, not the adult’s.

 

 

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The Value of other Points of view

Kubler-Ross-Collage
Kubler-Ross-Collage (Photo credit: Peta-de-Aztlan)

History can benefit from including other points of view than just that of the writer.  This is where being involved in debate as an activity in school (where people practice taking both sides of an issue) can be a help to a person going out into the world.  It also helps to have the experience of living in a certain society that is not your own especially if it is in another country.  If you can’t do that then taking a job that you have never done before especially one that you perceive as undesirable or training for a career which involves a “boot camp” experience, can change your mind about a lot of things.  You might find out that people in these types of jobs or careers have some very valuable qualities that they develop by working in these fields.  Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (a psychiatrist who pioneered in the area of death and dying) once spoke to a woman in a hospital whose job was considered a necessary adjunct to patient care, but not requiring any medical training or nursing skills, and found that this woman had a profoundly moving way of being there for dying patients which Dr. Kubler-Ross deeply admired.

When working with people as individuals or groups, taking the perspective of an academic studying them from an objective stance and viewing them as something to be studied, but not people who have everyday “normal” lives, can leave out certain variables that are crucial to the understanding of how and why these people do things.  I used to think (maybe I learned this in school) that people in ancient cultures were primitive compared to our civilization now.  I shuttered at the thought of living in such barbarous times.  As I learned more and gained more perspective, I found that people in those cultures had valuable information that was lost over time and would be valuable to us in the present.  Also some of them had a more peaceful giving nature than most of us have now.

Kubler-Ross on Death

Kubler-Ross on Death (Photo credit: mtsofan)

 

 

 

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