Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grief

Tonight I attended a presentation about grief recovery.  It got me thinking.  First of all- when one thinks of grief- one thinks of the loss or death of a loved one.  I immediately thought of Mrs. P at A Little Pink in a World of Camo.  Her loss is uncomprehensable to me, I can't begin to know what she is going through.  My heart aches for her and her little girl.  In no way do I claim her grief as my own- she doesn't know who I am but she is in my thoughts and prayers.

To me- death is the ultimate cause of grief.  But tonight I learned that loss and death are not the only causes of grief.  Grief can be caused by divorce/break-up, loss of a pet, moving (PSCing), health problems, miscarriage, financial problems, and so on.  There is no official "list" because we are all unique- a source of grief for one person may not affect another.  Too often do we dismiss our own grief because we think it is not as important or as paramont as another's grief.  The presenter referred to the saying (which I had not heard until tonight):
"I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet."

I wish I could claim that saying as my own.  Boy did that smack me right in the forehead (you know- "I coulda had a V-8" kind of moment.)  Not only do I dismiss my own pain and grief- but I expect my children to do the same.  When they are upset about something- I tell them it could be worse and maybe give an example of someone who DOES have it worse.  My intention was to make them feel better.  Actually what I was doing was dismissing their feelings and not allowing them to deal with the issue at hand.

There is an institute that deals with grief called The Grief Recovery Institute (http://www.grief-recovery.com/ or http://www.grief.net/).  Here the Fleet and Family Support Center have trained counselors that offer a grief recovery program- who have been trained at the aforementioned institute.  What a great resource!  I have not heard of this until tonight.  Maybe it is new?  We (the other women who attended the presentation) decided that deployment should be included on the "general" list of sources of grief. 

I also learned that we as a society, do not know how to approach other's grief.  Well-intentioned people will say things meaning to help- but instead cause more pain and/or anger.  Some of the things that people say or imply to a grieving person can include:

"I know how you feel"
"Give it time (or time heals all wounds)"
"Just keep yourself busy"
"replace your loss"
"You can always [replace said loss]"
"Don't feel bad"
"You need to be strong for your family"
"You should grieve alone"

I have to say the line about being strong for your family really hit home.  Hubby told me that on the phone when he found out my father had died.  I knew then that was the wrong thing to say.  But this is a prime example of how we do not know how to deal with grief, our own or others'.  I really want to take this class.  It is not so much that I am in deep pain from my own personal losses, and am falling apart.  But I think that learning how to cope is a wonderful life skill to have.  It would benefit me personally, and it will come in hand to help those I care about, especially my children.  It is a scary prospect of course.  I am aware that I have stuffed a lot of feelings of grief deep down and they are sure to come up to the surface- which will be painful, I am sure. 
I plan to spread the word.  Being stationed overseas magnifies any problem one may have here.  I know there are many spouses here that would benefit from this program.  Really- regardless of how little grief we may "feel", I think everyone should learn these crucial life skills, as they are bound to need it for themself or those they love.

So I will jump on in.  I let you know how it goes...

3 comments:

  1. Russell FriedmanMay 21, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    Hi,

    My name is Russell Friedman, executive director of the Grief Recovery Institute.

    Thanks for your wonderful article.

    One slight correction: our website is www.grief-recovery.com or www.grief.net.

    On our site there's a heading called Helpful Articles. there are scores of articles that you will find most helpful.

    Warm regards,

    Russell

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  2. Mr. Friedman, I am so suprised and honored that you read my post. It sounds like you are doing great things and helping people. Your program is a wonderful resource for military spouses and I hope to get the word out. Thank you for the correction- I must have written it down incorrectly last night in my notes. I have edited my post to show the correct url. Thanks again!
    Nancy

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  3. Very good post! I hadn't really thought about grief being expressed for something other than the loss of a loved one, but it makes sense that all those other occurences would cause grief.

    I can't believe you've never heard the quote about the man with no feet. I can't tell you how many times my father has busted that quote out over the years!

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