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Grief Resources

The experience of grief is unique to each person, everyone grieves in their own way. There are no rules or timetables as to how long it will take for you to heal and adjust to your loss.

Help After a Bereavement

Why am I feeling like this?

When we are faced with a massive, significant loss in our lives it is NORMAL to experience a variety of emotions and feelings.

This is Grief.

There are many reactions people have after the death of someone they love. Some are physical
some are emotional.

We all react differently.

Grief is a wound that needs attention in order to heal.
To work through our grief means to…

Face our feelings openly and honestly, to express or release our feelings fully, to tolerate and accept our feelings.

For however long it takes for the wound to heal.

It takes courage to grieve.

Common Reactions & Feelings with Grief

  • Feeling numb and in shock, vague and can’t believe what’s happened.
  • It’s hard to concentrate or remember things. This is the body’s NORMAL way of coping with traumatic situations in life.
  • Guilt, anger and anxiety about the past and the situation.
  • Loneliness and depression. Feeling desperately alone, not being able to find relief, even if we have plenty of family and friends to support us.
  • Having difficulty sleeping and eating. Physical distress such as high blood pressure or infections. It is wise to get this checked with your doctor. You are not going crazy.
  • You can find everyday situations and relationships difficult to cope with.
  • Using emotional releases such as crying or angry outbursts.
  • Finding it impossible to return to usual activities, no interest in life.

DO REMEMBER that grieving is a normal process that affects people differently … you may find some of these reactions happening to you.

Healing the Grief

It takes time to process all the feelings and adjust to the reactions. The first year of the grief process is often the hardest and people may feel worse at 6 months than they did at the beginning.

Some ideas to help you:

  • Don’t bottle up your feelings, crying can give relief. Find someone you trust, where you can be your true self.
  • Do talk about what has happened, over and over processing the loss.
  • Do accept yourself as human and normal in your grieving. Know that the grieving process can take 2-5 years.
  • Getting information about grief can help you take control of your life.
  • Support groups, with people who have had similar loss situations can be beneficial.

Memory Triggers

A grief wound or scar will remain part of us for the rest of our lives.

It is normal to feel ‘down’ as significant times of the year approach, such as birthdays , anniversaries and Christmas.

Often it is the weeks leading to these dates which are filled with apprehension and it can be important to plan a routine for ‘the day’.

Masculine and Feminine Grieving Patterns

Though we generally believe that men and women will use different ways of healing their grief, each can use parts from both the masculine and feminine grieving methods.

Many men are not comfortable expressing their feelings of pain and distress. This often results in men and women not understanding each others way of coping with grief.

Masculine roles include being seen as ‘the leader’ who has to maintain a ‘stiff upper lip.’

Masculine reactions to a loss often include …

  • Building a wall around their emotions.
  • Dealing very competently with the practical issues, but not with upset feelings.

Feminine reactions to a loss often include …

* Talking a lot about the loss.

* Needing to cry and express feelings.

Each person needs to grieve in his or her own unique way.

Grief feelings can be suppressed, however, they often surface as illness or in other parts of relationships.

Help and Support from a Friend

‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do’ is often said to the grieving person.

This is how YOU can help a grieving friend.

  • Listen to them without judgement
  • Let them repeat over and over their fears or anger.
  • Accept what they have to say.
  • Their feelings are normal.
  • You don’t have to have the ‘right words’.
  • Just be there, you don’t have to fix their grief or cheer them up.
  • Make contact on special days.
    (Anniversaries, Christmas and especially at 3, 6 & 9 months.)
  • Allow crying a hugs. Silence is okay.
  • Avoid cliches; eg. You have to get on with life. Instead say ‘…tell me about it’.

For more information on this topic please download our brochure.

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Helping Children After Death

What Can I Say To A Child?

Adults often feel uncertain about how best to help children when someone they love has died.

We want to protect them from the pain, we are unsure of what to say and how they will react!

In fact, even quite young children can grieve.
They need to be included in saying “goodbye” in their own personal way to the person they love.

  • If children are kept away they can often feel rejected and guilty that somehow they are to blame for what has occurred.
  • Like adults each child is individual in the way they will react to grief.
  • They need our love and acceptance.
  • This can be difficult for adults who are dealing with their own grief emotions at the same time.

Children’s Understanding Of Death At Different Ages

Under 2 years old

They sense something is wrong and need to remain with the family if possible.
Maintaining their routine and plenty of cuddles helps them to feel secure.

Ages 3 – 4 years

Pre-schoolers see death as a temporary separation, even if they have seen the deceased person and attended the funeral. This is normal.
Everything may need to be explained again and again, by someone they trust. Words like ‘gone to heaven’, ‘passed away’ should be avoided as they cause confusion and lack of finality.

Ages 5 – 8 years

Often this is called the ‘magical thinking age’. Children can believe that ‘wishing’ makes something come true. The child can feel immense guilt for the death and become very quiet, believing that “if I am very good ….. will come back”.

Ages 9 – 10 years

This age group is interested in what happens after death. They may have some idea of a soul and want to get all the answers e.g. “What happens after the burial ….. ?” They express their sorrow as adults …. apathy, crying, hostility or anger.

Ages 11 and upward

They have the capacity to think as an adult and need to be treated as equals in the decision making process of the family.

Helping Children (Under 10 Years)

  • Tell the children about the death immediately, openly and honestly, in a simple straight-forward way. Using the word ‘died’ is important.
  • Encourage children to be part of the family discussions about the funeral. They may like to draw a picture, write a letter, release a balloon or place a toy with the person who died.
  • Explain about the ‘viewing’ and the funeral. Your funeral director may also help at this time. Ask children if they wish to attend …. respect their decision. Some children in a family may wish to attend, others not. Keeping children away or forcing them to go is not helpful.
  • Stay close to children, hug them, let them see you cry and explain that it’s okay to feel sad and confused, boys may especially need this reassurance.
  • Children will often ask the same questions over and over. If parents are grieving deeply it may be helpful for another trusted adult to be available. It’s okay to say “I don’t know”.
  • Children may be fearful that their parent/s may now die and may become very clingy. This is normal.
  • Children may act out their feelings rather than talking … ‘tummy aches, monsters in their room, bedwetting, aggressive behaviour are all part of their grief. Encourage them to draw – drawing can be a useful way of relieving their fears.

There are many excellent books which parents can share with children.
Creating a ‘Memory Box or Book’ can be helpful.

Helping Adolescents

As well as the items mentioned on the previous pages, adolescents are also dealing with major changes in their bodies, emotions and relationships.

They need;

  • Freedom to express their feelings differently from others
  • No belittling
  • “Permission” to be sorry
  • Acceptance of story, mixtures of fantasy (denial) and reality until they are ready to modify
  • Active involvement in problem solving Forgiveness Respect Security
  • Assurance of confidentiality
  • Encouragement to be themselves
  • Time out

Common Issues And Reactions

Childhood bereavement does not necessarily mean a child’s development will be affected.

Rather there may be a lasting effect if they are excluded from the grieving family. Small babies are vulnerable to emotional deprivation, because a mother’s preoccupation may be seen as rejection by a small child. They become demanding and difficult. Older children try to understand the parent grief, but can feel resentful.

Lack of adequate explanations to children causes anxiety and fear.
Parental grief can result in a child feeling neglected.
Removing children from home can cause feelings of anger, guilt and rejection.

Matter of fact acceptance of the death is normal e.g. “At least I can go out and play again”.

Social withdrawal, daydreaming and lack of concentration are all normal.

Grief is an individual response .. . as a child’s intellect
changes, it is normal for questions to surface months and years after the death.

Books for all ages are available at:
COPE-Relationships Australia, 49A Orsmond St, Hindmarsh

This article covers some of the things we need to consider when helping grieving children.

For more information on this topic please download our brochure.

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Death of a Child

Parental grief reaction is based on:

  1. Differences between mothers and fathers relationship and expectations with the child.
  2. Conditioning by society into expected roles.
  3. Mothers generally have more contact with a child than fathers, this is most obvious when a stillbirth or neo-natal death occurs.

THE MOST COMMON DIFFICULTY WITH PARENTS IS lack of communication and understanding of each others grief reactions and needs.

Father’s Grief Reactions

  1. THE LEADER ROLE: It may bring feelings of ‘failure’ that a child has died, as
    expectations may be that “I can look after my family.” He may defer his own grief needs in an effort to “Lead the family through this.”
  2. LOVING PROTECTOR: The family ‘needs to be shielded from all hurt and
    harm’ therefore by adopting a loving protector role he may try to stop his wife and other children from grieving to protect them.
  3. a) PROVIDER: May return to work soon after a child’s death in an effort to
    resume ‘normal life’ this can result in; automatic pilot due to endorphins giving an impression ‘I’m OK’. Really feels very isolated unable to communicate with friends as an impression of coping has been established.
  4. b) PROBLEM SOLVER: Man is expected to ‘fix things’ but is unable to deal with
    his own needs let alone the family ….. inadequate.
  5. c) TOWER OF STRENGTH: Most men will suppress their own feelings ‘Big
    boys don’t cry’ This can lead to hostility and ill health.
    B. Wife may feel ‘he doesn’t care’ as he does not share grief..
  6. LOSS OF DIRECTION: The expectations of that child and family plans need
    to be reassessed. A new life direction may be needed. The loss of a family name.
  7. ESCAPING: When the pain of grief is overwhelming, the familiar things; wife,
    children … bring pain, so he seeks substitutes; work, service clubs, selling the house
    etc. due to feelings of helplessness and loneliness.

Mother’s Grief Reactions

  1. EMOTIONAL CONFUSION: Feelings of denial and basic ‘Survival reactions’
    continue for some time: denial, anger, guilt, emptiness and depression.
  2. NEED TO TALK: Is overwhelming to deal with the feelings above. Conflict
    arises when people don’t listen or husband discourages .. .’it will only upset
    you.
  3. ROUTINE & MEMORIES, THE NURSE ROLE: The emptiness when she
    returns home can be devastating: no purpose in life any more. ‘The guilt
    ‘What did I do wrong.’
  4. ‘UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES’ These are common. seeing the child. hearing
    them play, is ‘scary’ … Am I going crazy?
  5. LOSS AND LONELINESS: ‘Part of me is missing’, no one left to care for. It
    can be difficult to console other children and not exclude them from her
    feelings.
  6. DIFFICULTY SEEING OTHER CHILDREN: Especially those around the
    age of the dead child. Feelings of resentment towards other
    mothers … NORMAL

How To Help

N.B. GIVE the family permission to grieve i.e. to talk about the child that has died, as much as possible to each other and to family and friends. Be there to LISTEN.

Encourage the reduction of social involvement.

Allow time for THINKING to sort out all those feelings.

A personal journal of feelings and/or talking to the dead child is allowing grief to be recognised.

Release of emotions, crying, anger etc., together or alone. Don’t hide feelings from other members of the family. Constructive expression of anger: talk it out or write.

INVOLVEMENT with a support group, sharing listening with others who have had a similar experience can bring relief.

Further Information:
* Death of an older Child
The Compassionate Friends (SA) Inc
PO Box 26
Kent Town SA 5071
Tel: 8351 0344

http://www.compassionatefriendssa.org.au

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

How do Children Understand Grief?

Adults often feel uncertain about how best to help children, and are therefore reluctant to discuss their feelings when a death occurs.

Many adults believe children under 16 years are not old enough to understand.

THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

‘Comprehension’ Levels

Ages 0-2 YEARS

They sense that something is wrong and need to be part of the remaining family. Plenty of cuddles and maintaining routine is important.

Ages 3-4 YEARS

Pre-schoolers see death as a temporary separation, even if they view and attend the funeral. This is NORMAL. It may need to be explained again and again, gently and with someone they trust. Words like; gone away, passed away, should be AVOIDED as they cause more confusion. The children should not be removed from the parent.

Ages 5-8 YEARS

Often called the ‘magical thinking age’. A belief that wishing can make something come true. The child can feel immense guilt if ‘I wish you were dead’ has been said to the person who died. A child may become very quiet. ‘If I am very good ….. will come back.’

Ages 9-10 YEARS

This age group is interested in what happens after death. They may have some ideas of a soul, can relate to some mysteries of death, but want to get all the answers. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE GROUND? They express their sorrow as adults .. apathy or cry a lot, become hostile and angry.

Ages 11 YEARS AND UPWARD

They have the capacity to think as an adult, they need to be treated as equals, with honesty and be part of the decision making process of the family.

Reactions And Consequences

Childhood bereavement does not necessarily mean a child’s development will be affected. What does happen … the disrupted family life and inability of the parent to come to terms with their loss can effect the children.

Death of a parent can result in a lower income, social isolation. The surviving parent may work harder thereby not giving enough attention to the children’s’ emotional needs.

Sibling Death

May have a lasting effect on a child if he or she is excluded from the grieving family.

Again the situation is often complicated by the parents own grieving and understanding of death. Small babies are vulnerable to emotional deprivation, because a mothers preoccupation may be seen as rejection by a small child. That child becomes demanding and difficult. Older children try to understand the parents grief, but can feel resentful and guilty

Common Problems

Lack of adequate explanation to children, causing anxiety and fear. Parental grief results in a child feeling neglected (Why doesn’t Mummy love me too?)

Removing children from home to relatives causes anger and feelings of rejection.

A child fears that the other parent may also die and becomes over demanding.

A deceased sibling is not referred to in front of the remaining children – increases anxiety and bewilderment.

A terminal illness of one child causes anger and frustration of the parents, it may cause them to vent this on the healthy child.

What Helps Children Cope With Death

  1. Tell the children about the death immediately, openly, honestly. By a parent or someone they trust.
  2. HOW it is said is of greater significance than what is said. Our non-verbal’ attitude communicates itself to children.
  3. Stay close to children, hug them, let them feel your love and concern.
  4. Speak simply and accurately, in fact children will ask the same questions again and again.
  5. Ask the children if they wish to see the deceased with you. Explain that you are going to cry and that it’s okay to feel sad. Especially for boys and men.
  6. Encourage children to attend the funeral. They need the opportunity to say good-bye.
  7. Explain grief to children and ENCOURAGE then to grieve openly.
  8. Allow each child to grieve in his or her own way, they are individuals and grieving takes time.

For more information on this topic please download our brochure.

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Masculine/Feminine Grief


Different Grief Reactions

Grief can come from the death of a spouse, child, elderly parent, last parent (therefore you are an orphan), a sibiling, relative or friend.

Gender (male and female) grief reaction are based on:

Conditioning by society into expected roles. Though we generally believe that men and women will grieve differently – each will use parts of both maculine and feminine grieving methods.

THE MOST COMMON DIFFICULTY WITH MEN AND WOMEN IS lack of communication and understanding of each other’s grief reactions and needs.

Masculine Grief Reactions

  1. THE LEADER ROLE: It may bring feelings of ‘failure’, as expectations may be that “I can look after my family.” He may defer his own grief needs in an effort to “Lead the family through this.”
  2. LOVING PROTECTOR: The family ‘needs to be shielded from all hurt and harm’ therefore by adopting a loving protector role he may try to stop his wife and other children from grieving to protect them.
  3. a) PROVIDER: May return to work soon after a loss in an effort to resume ‘normal life’ this can result in; automatic pilot due to endorphins giving an impression ‘I’m OK’. Really feels very isolated unable to communicate with friends as an impression of coping has been established.
  4. b) PROBLEM SOLVER: Man is expected to ‘fix things’ but is unable to deal with his own needs let alone the family ….. inadequate.
  5. c) TOWER OF STRENGTH: Most men will suppress their own feelings ‘Big boys don’t cry’ This can lead to hostility and ill health.
    N.B. Wife may feel ‘he doesn’t care’ as he does not share grief..
  6. LOSS OF DIRECTION: The loss and change means plans need to be reassessed. A new life direction may be needed. The loss of finances, health, dreams and goals.
  7. ESCAPING: When the pain of grief is overwhelming, the familiar things; wife, children … bring pain, so he seeks substitutes; work, service clubs, selling the house, etc. due to feelings of helplessness and loneliness.

Feminine Grief Reactions

  1. EMOTIONAL CONFUSION: Feelings of denial and basic ‘Survival reactions’ continue for some time: denial. anger, guilt, emptiness and depression.
  2. NEED TO TALK: Is overwhelming to deal with the feelings above. Conflict arises when people don’t listen or husband discourages .. .’it will only upset you.
  3. ROUTINE & MEMORIES, THE NURSE ROLE: The emptiness when she returns home can be devastating: no purpose in life any more. ‘The guilt ‘What did I do wrong.’
  4. ‘UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES’ These are common. Seeing the deceased person. This is ‘scary’ … Am I going crazy?
  5. LOSS AND LONELINESS: ‘Part of me is missing’, no one left to care for. It can be difficult to console other family members and not exclude them from her feelings.

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Help a Grieving Friend

Grieving people were asked, “What do you want by way of communication for people close to you?”

What we really need is someone who will:

Listen

  • Carefully to everything
  • Being unconditional
  • And non-judgemental as an equal
  • Allowing us to talk freely
  • Without too much comment
  • Without giving advice – unless asked.
  • Asking about feelings;
  • Reflecting back our fears, anxieties, anger etc.
  • Allowing repeats
  • And prepared to be an emotional ‘punching bag’.

Comfort

  • Giving strength and genuine caring
  • With honesty and empathy,
  • And give physical comfort too.

Be Sensitive

  • Knowing when to listen
  • When to talk – and when not to.
  • Sometimes just being still – together,
  • Waiting, patiently allowing
  • Us to raise the topic
  • When and if we choose to;
  • Aware of body language.

Be Tolerant

  • Understanding, open – and responsive
  • Free to express feelings also.
  • And when listening, will
  • Concentrate
  • Have good eye contact
  • Sit level – facing opposite
  • Without obstacles in between
  • Without distractions
  • Nothing in the hands
  • Not watching the clock
  • Allowing us to ‘let go’ in our own time
  • Of fear, anger, helplessness
  • Resentment, suppression, confusion etc.
  • Without being uncomfortable.

When asked “What do you NOT want?”

What we do not like:

  • Is Sympathy
  • To be excluded from discussions
  • To be over protected
  • To be fussed over
  • To be nagged.

And we really do appreciate good friends:

“Someone with whom you dare to be yourself”

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Suggestions for Teachers & School Counsellors

Teachers, counsellors and classmates make up a child’s “second family”. They, too, have strong feelings when a “family member” experiences a death. These guidelines have been prepared by bereaved parents, surviving children, school personnel and professional caregivers in an effort to help those who want to help a child.

Children tend to express grief in their ways of behaving. They act out their feelings and emotions. We can not always know what they are thinking or feeling. Take cues from their behaviour.

All children react differently. Withdrawal, aggressiveness, panic, anxiety, anger, guilt, fear, regression and symptoms of bodily distress are all signs of grief. Be patient and understanding.

When children are grieving, they have shortened attention spans and may have trouble concentrating. School work may be affected.

A child may attempt to deny feelings of anger, hurt and fear by repressing them. Eventually, grief takes over and their feelings leak out. It may be months or even years before a child displays signs of the full impact of a family death.

Bereaved children must re-establish a self-identity, “Who am I?” becomes a major concern. Help them in their search. A child’s perceptions of death change with age and experience. The preschool and kindergarten age child may see death as temporary. The 6 to 10 year old becomes aware of the reality and finality of death. He may be curious about death and burial rituals. By 11, a child begins to perceive death on an adult level.

How To Help

If a student seeks you out to talk, be available and REALLY LISTEN. Hear with your ears, your eyes and your heart.

TOUCH. A warm hug says, “I know what happened and I care. I am here if you need me.”

Face your own feelings about death.

Share your feelings with the child and with your class. It’s okay to cry, to be sad or angry.

It is even okay to smile.

Be open and honest with feelings. Create an atmosphere of open acceptance that invites questions and fosters confidence and love.

Encourage children to express their grief in all its forms. Acknowledge the reality that grief hurts. Do not attempt to rescue the child (or the class, or yourself!) from that hurt. Be supportive and available.

Provide a quiet, private place to come to whenever the student needs to be alone. Almost anything can trigger tears. Respect a student’s need to grieve. Help students realise that grief is a natural and normal reaction to loss. Do not isolate or insulate children from death.

Expose students to death as a natural part of life.

Use such opportunities as a fallen leaf, a wilted flower, the death of an insect, bird or class pet to discuss death as a part of the life cycle. Explore feelings about death, loss and grief through books.

Talk together as a classroom family.

Remember, the class functions as a group, and sharing a grief may benefit the entire class.

Thus students can be exposed to death in a safe and caring atmosphere, where the grieving child finds people who care and are supportive.

By sharing a grief, we help eliminate the compounding problem of school and social isolation the bereaved often experience.

School Relationships

Try not to single out the grieving child for special privileges or compensations. He still needs to feel a part of his peer group and should be expected to function accordingly. Temper your expectations with kindness and understanding, but continue to expect him to function.

If possible, meet with a few of the bereaved student’s friends to help them cope and explore how to be supportive. Friends may be uncomfortable and awkward in their attempts to make contact.

Help the student find a supportive peer group. Perhaps there are other students in the school who are coping with similar losses. An invitation to share with each other might be welcome.

Have resources available in the library about death and grief. You might offer to read a book with the child.

Become a part of a caring team by establishing lines of communication with the parents. Keep each other informed about the student’s progress. It is important and appropriate for the school community to acknowledge the death of a student.

Encourage classroom discussions and expressions of grief, such as a display of poems, pictures or drawings. Make a scrapbook, hold an assembly, plant a tree. Do something to acknowledge the death (thus giving students permission to do the same).

Children and young people will continue to deal with the death of a family member as they grow and mature. Continue to be available.

Continue to reach out and CARE, just as you do now.

Suggested Reading: Books for Bereaved Parents

THE BEREAVED PARENT,
Harriet Sarnoff Schiff, Crown Publishers.

THE GRIEF OF PARENTS … WHEN A CHILD DIES,
Margaret S. Miles.

DON’T TAKE MY GRIEF AWAY FROM ME,
Doug Manning.

WHEN GOING TO PIECES HOLDS YOU TOGETHER,
William Miller.

WHEN A BABY DIES,
Martha Jo Church, Helene Chazin, Faith Ewald.

HEALING A FATHER’S GRIEF,
Bill Shatz, Medic Publishing.

NEWBORN DEATH,
Centering Corporation

MY SON, MY SON,
Iris Bolton with Curtis Mitchell.

CHILDREN ARE NOT PAPER DOLLS,
Erin Linn Levy.

FOR THOSE WHO LIVE,
Kathy La Tour.

MEDITATIONS FOR BEREAVED PARENTS,
Judy Osgood.

HELP FOR BEREAVED PARENTS,
Mildren Tengbom.

WHEN YOUR CHILD DIES: FINDING A MEANING IN MOURNING,
Stevenson & Stoffron.

UNDERSTANDING MOURNING,
Dr. Glen W Davidson.

WHEN YOU’RE GRIEVING,
Father Gerard Dowling.

The Compassionate
Friends (SA) Inc
PO Box 26
Kent Town SA 5071
Tel: 8351 0344

http://www.compassionatefriendssa.org.au

Recorded message with information

Bereaved Parents of Australia
Grieving
Healing
Growing

A world-wide family of bereaved parents caring for one another

For more information on this topic please download our brochure.

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Suicide Grief

Publicity regarding suicide has been a two-edged sword with both positive and negative influences – informing the community of the problem but generating suicides in its wake.

However, having spoken to many people who have had suicide in their family – they express the need to have open and accurate information for those affected by the suicide,

WHY do so many end their lives by their own hand?

We can look at four distinct groups with their own special needs when trying to answer this question.

Young People

Perhaps from a feeling of uselessness having never or rarely worked, believe there is nothing to live for. At the other end of the spectrum is the young person feeling pressured to achieve to repay parental “investment”

Adults 25-45 Years

More males than females take their lives in this group. Despondency arising from financial and marital issues seems to dominate.

Middle Aged Persons

Pressures arising from work, mid life searching and family issues contribute to the cause.

Elderly People

Often the forgotten ones in many discussions on suicide. Perhaps the experience of pain, loneliness together with long term or terminal illness and the lack of family support increase the likelihood or elderly people taking their own lives or asking for assistance to suicide.

How do the family and friends of someone who has suicided grieve?
Is their grief different because their loved one has chosen to take their own life?

Talking to a mother, whose daughter suicided, the response is yes.

“With suicide we feel something that is not mentioned in the grief and loss literature … we feel overwhelming rejection of ourselves and our love.”

The grief IS different if suicide has touched you. To the feeling of denial, anger, guilt and emptiness is added rejection. Someone dear to us, whom we love very much, deliberately turned their back on family and friends and hastened their departure from us … why?

In trying to come to terms with this feeling of rejection we can say “was it really a rejection or an inability on their part to accept that they are loved?”

Another question often expressed when a suicide occurs – is “WHY?” The torment involved in seeking a reason for the taking of the life can engulf the bereaved and hinder a healing process. “Wasn’t my love enough for them – what’s wrong with me,” is a usual response of the family.

Grief starts to heal as we talk at length about the loss to someone who will not judge us, or the person we are talking about. In the past, with suicide, there appeared to be a stigma associated with the taking of one’s own life. Today those barriers no longer exist. Clergy of all faiths are available to assist with services in the church. Burials or cremations can be conducted wherever the family may choose.

A booklet on Suicide published by the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide says – “In the homily, it may be appropriate or even important to speak about the circumstances of the death – and to name some of the feelings .. . the grief process is not helped by hiding from reality no matter how traumatic it may have been.”

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Looking After Caregivers

‘When confronted with people in grief a caregiver will often become aware of their own limitations, vulnerabilities and fears.’

In the demanding and rewarding profession of assisting people, we may fall into the trap of ‘being there’ for everyone who we believe needs our help. This is all very well if we have been able to identify our own personal time and space. What happens, all too often, is the caregiver may move from one crisis to another without taking stock of their own needs.

Burnout

If we don’t learn how to handle feelings, we become candidates for burnout. We think all is well, and one day we wake up and there is nothing left.

The following are some of the signs to watch for:

  • A progressive loss of ideals. We begin to think everyone is taking advantage of us. There is a real lack of satisfaction in what we do, nothing seems to please us and we find fault where we never even looked before.
  • A progressive loss of purpose. We begin to just go through the motions, there is a feeling of heaviness and depression. The depression that comes with burnout produces a sense of no feeling at all. We become emotionally flat.
  • A progressive loss of humour. We become more and more irritable. Change begins to bother and threaten us. Nothing is funny anymore.
  • A progressive loss of energy. We are tired all the time. No matter how much rest, we can’t seem to get any energy.
  • A progressive loss of morals. We start to justify things we say and do which we would never have dreamt of before.

Burnout is the reason we find support systems and places where we can deal with our feelings and let go of some pain.

Looking After Caregivers

Many caregivers know how to give, but do not know how to receive.

We know how to help, but can’t let anyone help us.

Think about how the following can apply in your life.

  • Talk and debrief to someone you trust, on a regular basis.
  • Never feel guilty for taking adequate rest during the day, holidays or days off. You owe it to yourself.
  • Be realistic with yourself, your family and friends. You also need people close to you who are concerned with your well-being.
  • Always remember to balance your emotional involvement in your work with something that relaxes you.
  • Find something you are passionate about and DO it.

© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Explaining Cremation To Children

Children experience grief just as adults do. It is important to remember that children deal with death DIFFERENTLY at different ages and that their reactions are not always obvious or immediate.

A child of 2 or 3 years of age has little understanding of the permanency of death, while one who is 8 or 9 has a capacity to grasp life’s mysteries and will remember the experience vividly.

Cremation can be explained to children by firstly talking about the death and helping a child understand that grief is a natural feeling when someone has died.

A child needs adults to confirm that it’s all right to be sad and to cry; that the hurt they feel now won’t last for ever.

Answering A Child’s Questions

Adults can help a child during a time of loss by being OPEN, HONEST and LOVING and by RESPONDING to their questions in a FACT giving way.

  • There is no need to be evasive, but modify explanations to what a child can understand. They will ask more questions as their intellect grasps the concept of cremation. This will happen over several months or years.
  • It is better NOT to withhold information, children can cope with what they know. If the truth is withheld, often their imaginations can conjure up explanations much scarier than reality.
  • Be careful about using euphemisms or even telling white lies to children in an attempt to protect them.
    G.: If a child is told that God took the person to heaven or that the person has gone to be a star in heaven …. the child may feel confused and upset that their loved one chose to leave them.
  • You can tell them that cremation does not hurt the person. The person is dead, which means the body doesn’t work any more. The heart does not beat, the brain has stopped working, there is no breathing and the body does not feel anything anymore.
  • There is no smell when a body is cremated. The coffin containing the deceased person is placed into the cremator which is heated to 3 times hotter than your oven at home and the body just disintegrates leaving only fragments of bone.
  • Talk about how the fragments of bone are then put in a container (urn) which can be placed in the garden at home or in a Cemetery.

For more information on this topic please download our brochure.
© Gizelle Forgie 2018

Over 30 years of ‘Grief Care’ for local families

If you would like more information or to speak to our Community Support Officer please email info@durdinandforgiefunerals.com.au
Please contact us on 08 8862 2101 if you would like hard copies or if you would like to use these articles for any publication.

For more information on this topic please download our brochure.

Durdin & Forgie Family Funeral Directors offer all aspects of funeral services in Balaklava, South Australia. Whether your need is immediate or you’re just planning ahead, our friendly staff are here to help.