Sunday, November 28, 2010

When Tragedy Strikes at the Holidays, Grief Comes

I heard bad news. A friend woke early Thanksgiving (American holiday) to discover her husband had passed away in the night.

It makes you stop and think. If tragedy hits on a holiday when all plans are for celebration, the passing becomes more difficult.

Taps, Bugle, Army, Military Funeral, Arlington National Cemetery

Each person processes through grief stages in his/her own way when learning of death. But even if there are similarities such as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote in her book, On Death and Dying about the five stages of grief, grief is unique to the individual.

So what are you to do, if tragedy has struck you? Amid the shock, the anger, the denial--trust yourself to know what is best for you. Be free to process as you see fit, especially if others feel obliged to tell you that you 'should' be/do/feel something you do not. Of course, here I am telling you what to feel, so you are welcome to ignore me as well. I don't wish to add to your burden, but encourage you as you go through this difficult time.

The body is remarkable in its ability to assess needs and adapt to what it requires.

Grief may take much longer than society is willing to give. After a few months, people move on and no longer seem to remember that your heart is in pain.

It used to be society required mourners to wear black for seven years. Black bows graced houses. In the past, many found this constricting, but it did something for the grieving loved ones left behind.

funeral sisters

It informed society to be gentle because you were grieving. Remember Gone with the Wind? The heroine had to wear widows weeds—no color--and yet she broke tradition to wear the red dress.

Society doesn't have those markers anymore and people can be indifferent, not intentionally, mind you. Because distractions and life cause their focus to shift away, they forget. You don’t, however, so be good to yourself. Trust that you have needs and be willing to let people know. They’ll be a good source of help if you remind them you are still struggling with the loss.

For the rest of us, let us be thankful for yet another aspect of life. Friends, loved ones, family, associates, neighbors, online acquaintances…are still alive and we can communicate with them.

So, let me say, I’m thankful for you. Be good to yourself and love each day life gives you a gift --the present.

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