ArtAnSa - Notes

Highlights from On Grief and Grieving

I don't recall where or when I first heard about it but I decided to read "On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss" by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross after losing an aunt. It's a rather short read and I didn't highlight a lot but it gave me some clarity and helped me in my grieving process.

1. The Five Stages of Grief

People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another, and back again to the first one.

A mourner should be allowed to experience his sorrow, and he will be grateful for those who can sit with him without telling him not to be sad.

2. The Inner World of Grief

People often change reality to fantasy after death. Some of this is cultural. We are taught never to speak ill of the dead, and we feel guilty for even remembering the mistakes they made. We often idealize the person we lost to subconsciously convey the enormity of what is gone. The greater the person, we think, the more others will understand all that we have lost.

When we shelve our pain, it ­doesn’t go away.

3. The Outer World of Grief

Go slowly. Do not take on more than you can handle. It’s okay to have distractions. Accomplishing those little things in life can take you away from the enormous pain, and some ­people need a time of doing nothing, while others need to keep busy. Feeling productive can be a welcome change at times.

Food can temporarily seem to help with the emptiness, but just like any temporary feeling of relief, overeating is not a long-term solution in dealing with loss.

It’s a good idea to go to bed earlier, sleep a little later. If ­you’re out of balance, take little steps. Try to eat a little better, exercise a little, and be good to yourself

Take time to feel your feelings and to experience them. Let your friends help, and do not turn down offers of support. And take a moment to be real.

Writing is a wonderful companion to our loneliness in a world where we stand alone. Many people write about their feelings after a loss. Some write in a grief journal to deposit their feelings without worrying about someone else’s reactions. In any case writing externalizes what is in us. Those circulatory thoughts can find an exit with the pen and paper or with the keyboard and mouse.

We write to express ourselves, but sometimes we can write to ask for an answer. How on earth can you receive an answer from a loved one who has died? One technique that we have found to produce interesting results is to write the letter to your loved one with your dominant hand. Now get a fresh sheet of paper and allow yourself to write a letter back from your loved one with your nondominant hand.

You ­don’t ever bring the grief over a loved one to a close.

4. Specific Circumstances

Death is hardest to comprehend without any forewarning. The news and loss are crushing. How can our world change so dramatically and without any warning? No preparation, no good-byes, just the loudest absence one could ever imagine.

5. The Changing Face of Grief

If you do not take the time to grieve, you cannot find a future in which loss is remembered and honored without pain.

7. David Kessler: My Own Grief

Those whom we have loved and who loved us in return will always live on in our hearts and minds. As you continue on your journey, know that you are richer and stronger, and that you know yourself better now. You have transformed and evolved. You have loved, lost, and survived.

You can find gratitude for the time you and your loved one shared together, as short as that seems to have been. Time helps as you continue healing and live on. Yours is the grace of life, death, and love.

Afterword: The Gift of Grief

Why grieve? For two reasons. First, those who grieve well, live well. Second, and most important, grief is the healing process of the heart, soul, and mind; it is the path that returns us to wholeness. It ­shouldn’t be a matter of if you will grieve; the question is when will you grieve. And until we do, we suffer from the effects of that unfinished business.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. The time we take following a loss is important in grief and grieving as well as in healing. This gift of grief represents a completion of a connection we will never forget. A time of reflection, pain, despair, tragedy, hope, readjustment, reinvolvement, and healing.