Archive for Grief – Page 2

Speaking the Deepest Truths of Grief

Putting a time limit on grief is like standing on the beach…

It was a tour of the hospice offices. Simple stuff.

But there was that guy.

Why didn’t I keep my trap shut?

Couldn’t I have read his mind? (Or, realistically, detected a hint of pain?)

As a professional, possessing a solid educational background and years of experience, how come I didn’t have right words at the right time to voice? But, as it’s jokingly and seriously said, sometimes . . . “Shit happens.”

It did that night.

Before explaining further, picture this man. He’s mid-seventies. His clothes are clean, a long-sleeved shirt buttoned at the wrists. His pants are unremarkable, with creases no longer sharp. The shoes need polishing. The crow’s feet framing his eyes have merged with other lines and creases. From forehead to chin, his face is a well-worn 3D topographical map. He’s leaner than beef jerky, and, so—to protect confidentiality—I’ll call him Slim Jim.

On his left hand, the gnarled finger closest to the pinkie, there’s a ring.

I didn’t notice it until later.

A friend shadows him, probably younger by a decade. This guy—let’s call him Nodding Norm—never speaks. But when his friend starts talking in a few minutes, he nods emphatically with every word.

Why was I with these two fellows? Read More →

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Don’t Say that Word!

In a workshop I attended several years ago, Dr. Alan Wolfelt explained the distinctions between grief and mourning. Wolfelt’s a renowned expert, the founder of Colorado’s Center for Loss & Life Transition. His understanding likely won’t be found in the dusty dictionary on your bookshelf or online at Wikipedia. And though I could consult my scratchy notes, I’ll share my simplistic recollection of what he said.

Grief is internal. Mourning is external.

How obvious! Doesn’t everyone know that’s the difference between those two experiences? But I’ll confess:  if you’d asked me before the workshop, I might’ve muttered, “Grief and mourning mean sorta the same thing.”

When humans experience any loss of significance, emotions roil us. Physically, we are floored. Our spirits sag. Energy wanes. Waking up is a chore; going to bed is dreaded. Have you been fired or downsized from a job? How’d you feel? Did you get dumped in high school or college by the sweetheart you were convinced was your lifelong “soul mate?” How’d you feel? Read More →

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Hospice, Grief, and the Well-Dressed Guy

He was dressed for success.

His suit was charcoal gray, the shirt the color of a spring sky, and the tie was snappy. The shoes were shined into mirrors. I figured, since this was my hospice’s grief support group that met mid-day (for those 55 and over), that he was coming from work.

Or maybe the fellow was retired and chose to wear his “Sunday best.” My father, long after his final days of full-time work, frequently donned a nice shirt and cinched up one of the ties he’d worn years before. Until his cruel dementia stole nearly everything about him, Dad might add a sports jacket or color-coordinated sweater to complete the look.

Some guys, office bound or happily retired, like to maintain appearances.

My new group member did.

It was the first session. Read More →

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