Milestones of Mourning
When someone we love dies, how do we move on with life? A daunting question that most of us will confront numerous times over the course of a lifetime. And with every loss, each one of us will choose a unique way of walking through grief in order to live beyond it. Wouldn’t it be lovely—even motivating—if we could measure our progress as we mourn? To literally see how far we have come and thereby reinforce the belief that there is hope on the horizon—hope of healing. Well, the good news is that we can all create Milestones of Mourning. Please join us to experience this simple—yet sacred— ritual.
Although the holidays are portrayed in the media as the most joyous season of the year, the holidays are anything but joyous for those grieving the death of a loved one or another significant loss. Instead, the holidays highlight the losses and intensify the subsequent grief. Is it any wonder that so many people dread the holiday season—wishing merely to survive or to endure the festivities? When grieving, how can we effectively navigate the holidays? Perhaps the best advice is to have realistic expectations of the holidays, of yourself, and of others.
The End of the Road
Every journey has an end. Thus, the journey of caregiving will conclude at some point for the caregiver(s) and care receiver. Quite possibly, the ending is cause for celebration due to the full recovery of the care receiver. But not all endings are cause for celebration. With advanced age and terminal illness, the caregiving journey ultimately ends in the death of the care receiver. How we approach the end of the road as caregivers and care receivers is worthy of examination and consideration. We need to prepare well for this part of the journey if we are to be engaged instead of afraid. Yes, there are many changes and losses to be endured along the way. However, have you ever considered what is to be gained as we courageously walk to the end of the road?
Witness to Loss: What is to be Learned?
As we companion those who are aging, ill, or dying, we witness a tremendous amount of loss. No matter how well prepared or well trained we are, witnessing the losses of others affects us in profound ways. Sometimes the experience changes how we see the world, how we understand ourselves, and/or how we choose to believe. We are well served to consider what is to be gained from each experience of loss. Otherwise, we risk becoming either insensitive or overwhelmed as personal or professional companions.
Working with Grief
Grief enters the workplace in a variety of ways: death of client or patient, death of a colleague, corporate layoffs, or a bereaved co-worker. Loss in whatever form generates a sense of grief which must be recognized and addressed if an organization is to remain healthy and whole. We must proactively respond to loss by creating meaningful rituals which facilitate the integration of loss into the lives of individuals and the fabric of the organization.
The Impact and Implications of Communal Loss
Over the course of lifetime, human beings attach to a variety of things: people, places, memories, values, ideas, pets, money, careers, titles, and dreams. We are relational beings. We connect and attach very much like strips of velcro! Consequently, the risk of separation (loss) looms large for all humanity. How an individual integrates loss into her life is certainly a personal challenge. However, there are some losses that impact an entire community—perhaps even the world—thus making the integration of loss a collective process.
Social Media - A Valuable Resource During Times of Loss and Transition
The internet and social media have long been recognized as tremendous tools for networking, educating, and creating online communities. This technology is proving to be a valuable and needed resource during times of loss and transition when people seek information, support, connection, and communication. Various sites serve to facilitate bereavement support groups, blogs, and chat rooms. The internet also provides an online opportunity for creating and participating in beneficial rituals. The realized value of social media is dependent on personal preference, technological savvy, and imaginative integration of technology.
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Human beings are inherently relational creatures. Among other things, we attach to people, things, ideas, titles, money, and dreams. Hence, we are consequently at risk of experiencing loss and grief as attachments change or end. Mourning our losses requires courage—courage to feel the pain, courage to address the void, courage to integrate the loss, and courage to re-engage with life. Far too often in our society, the time needed to mourn is not recognized or honored as we rush to return to work and get “back to normal.” We, instead, need to recognize the need to mourn our losses if we are to move through and beyond our grief.