Family Outreach - Questions About Grief

What is Family Outreach?

FAQ/Family Outreach is an ongoing conversation as a result of questions you have asked at Outreach Programs, and are only suggestions for you to use or not use, as is best for you. Please do not hesitate to find a support group, medical community or counselor in your area for help. If you need assistance in finding one, please call or email me and I will do my best to facilitate a contact for you in your area.

What Happened?

“My life is turned upside down. I feel like I’m in a choking fog and I can’t get out.”

When we lose someone, our lives are turned upside down. We want our ‘normal’ back. We don’t want to feel this way anymore and we are in shock. We can’t get our heads wrapped around what happened to us. We literally feel the physical pain of grief which is paralleled only to the shattering of our grief stricken hearts.

Will I ever have a normal day again?
(Suggestions for Coping)

No. The answer is no. You will never have your normal day again. Not the old familiar normal you have always known. However, you will find a new normal. Losing a loved one leaves you in an emotional stroke. I often say that going through grief is very much like having a major physical stroke. You have to learn how to think again, process information, move your head, your arms, your legs, how to eat and communicate with people, and… think You even have to learn how to think all over again.

You absolutely can find your new normal but you have to work at it. You have to decide to “Do Something. Don’t Do Nothing.” That does not mean that you should keep busy and not think about what happened, hence: it will go away. That won’t work and it does not work. The end of your ‘busy’ day comes and you’re still left with what happened. You have to do something to work on healing your heart. You can do that. It’s not easy, but you can do it.

Do you suggest any particular books on grieving?

“When Children Grieve”
By John James and Russell Friedman

This is an excellent, informative and educational book for adults who have children who have suffered any kind of a loss that hurts their hearts. It’s an excellent book for anyone who has children in their lives and particularly for parents, grandparents and caregivers to read before something happens.

“Moving On”
By John James and Russell Friedman

This is an excellent, informative and education book for people who are married, partners, in relationships or thinking of becoming involved in a relationship. It is also a book that offers excellent advice and offers tools for recovering from the loss of a relationship and how to ‘move on’ in a healthy way.

“I’m Grieving As Fast As I Can”
By Linda Feinberg

The normal grief experience when a spouse dies is difficult enough. But when the person who has died leaves a young spouse and family, the dynamics can become more complicated. This book is directed towards young widows and widowers to help them through a journey that is unique to their specific situations.

Lending Library

The Foundation has a lending library that you are welcome to access. If you find something in our library that you would like to read, please let us know and we’ll ship it to you with a paid, return mailer for you to use when you have finished reading the book.

Will I Ever Get Over It? (Will the pain ever go away?)

The pain of loss is wrenching at best and crippling to say the least. The pain of loss is experienced uniquely by everyone, however a common denominator for everyone is wanting the pain to go away, wanting to know how long it will be until they ‘get over it’ and sometimes even fearful that if they do ‘get over it’ that there is a possibility that they will forget their loved one. Out of that fear, we sometimes might find ourselves struggling to hang onto the pain to quell that fear of forgetting and at the same time, struggling to ‘get over the pain’.

Grief is exhausting. Recovering from grief is hard work. Take gentle care of yourself. Try replacing the words ‘get over it’ with ‘recover from the pain’. You aren’t trying to forget your loved one. You are working on recovering from the pain of the loss of them. As you move towards recovery, you will note that the happy memories are brighter, easier to recall and when they do come to mind, they are a joy to remember.

Stages of Grief - Not!

You know that your loved one has died and you might or might not know how you feel or don’t feel. In the spirit of being helpful, someone tells you that you must go through the stages of grief. So you read them and discover that not only have you not gone through the stages of grief as they are written, you haven’t experienced those emotions in the identified specific order.

Now you are not only in grief which is already more than overwhelming, you are informed that you aren’t doing it right. It only takes one or two comments or suggestions when you are in this very vulnerable time of your life, to add enormous stress to your world. Kindnesses of family and friends are appreciated and certainly well-intended, yet try to keep in mind (even if you feel like your mind has left the building) to let it be ok for you to feel the way you feel. You haven’t lost your mind; your heart has been shattered and healing from the devastation of loss, is an enormous undertaking. Work on the healing at your own pace and in the way that is right for you.

There are emotions and feelings that ‘happen’ to you. Those feelings do not come in any specific right or wrong kind of order. We don’t all experience the same feelings or emotions and certainly, if you don’t experience them, let that be o.k. with you. Be gentle with yourself, take baby steps and don’t put undue stress on yourself, to try every suggestion or reading that is directed towards you. Sometimes just breathing through the next minute is a big job. Be gentle with yourself… every breath of every moment.