Deb's writings along the way...
- A Mother's Journey Through Grief
- Reaching for Rainbows
- No Magic Pill
- Semantics play a part...
- Coping with Stress
- Coping with Guilt
- What my Boys mean to me
- Voice of Hope
- My Boys
- Our Child's Memory
- The Healing Power of 'Love Messages'
- What Really Makes Us Rich
- Forgiveness ~ A Bridge to Healing
- Grief Reconciliation ~ Releasing Ourselves from Self-limiting Identities
- The Healing Power of Love and Grace~ from Woundedness to a New Wholeness
- Hope...in the eyes of a Parent
- Our Connection in Spirit
- Transforming Parental Grief Through Spiritual Connections [Feb 2011 CoSozo Magazine]
- Childbirth and Trauma: Empowering Strategies to Help Integrate Your Grief [June 2013 CoSozo Magazine]
- The Power of Support ~ Creating Worldwide Family Support for Fatty Oxidation Disorders (FODs) [Sept 2014 CoSozo Magazine]
- The Myth of 'Closure' in Death
- Life after Loss...'Celebrating' the Holidays
- 'Letting go' is NOT an option
- 'Healing Images Transform Grief'
- 2016 Mother's Day Nonprofit Spotlight ~ FOD Family Support Group [lsj.com]
♥♥♥ Deb's Personal Perspective on Parental Grief and Healing: Creative Building Blocks ~ Holistic Healing of a Fractured Heart and Interpretation of my 'Holistic Intergenerational Grief Model ~ Healing of a Fractured Heart' TM
[for full online Reading] [for full article Printing]
• One page handout - DLG Grief Model, 8.5x11
• One page handout - Table of 3 Models that influenced DLG Grief Model
• One page handout - DLG Grief Model in context of 3 influencing models, 8.5x11 or best at 8.5x14
• One page handout - DLG Grief Model in context of Dimensions & Tasks of Mourning, 8.5x11
• One page handout - DLG Six 'eyes' of Grief
• One page handout - Words Impact our Grief Journeys
• One page handout - DLG The Living Tree of Light
Please note: The Influencing Grief Models are not to be viewed as step by step or linear ways of working through your grief. They helped me envision my own personal way through grief and were woven within my own ongoing process of becoming a more spiritually authentic person and also influenced my way of being with those I support. Additionally, it is my perspective that their main concepts are not meant to be the be all and end all of what you MUST do to grieve in a healthy way and it is NOT about 'letting go' or having 'closure' to one's grief. I believe they offer guides to help us navigate our personal grief journey's rollercoaster and vacillating emotions/thoughts/behaviors as we move forward in our lives in our OWN time and OWN way toward 'holistic healing' WITH our loved one's spirit, love, memory and light forever intact within us.
The death of a child is an excruciating and life-changing experience for any parent and their surviving children and family. Those that have never had a child die speak the truth when they say, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” There are no words that can fully express that gut-wrenching anguish and sorrow a parent feels searing through their mind, body and spirit when they are told their child is dead.
Having those very words spoken to my husband, Dan, and me on July 21, 1985, I can attest to that shattering of my heart and world. Now that Kristen’s 25th ‘anniversary’ has passed, I would like to share a few of my grief journey ‘learnings’ and how they helped me move toward ‘healing my fractured heart.’ Because parental grief is unique and individual and based on various factors, my experiences may not match other bereaved parents’ grief journeys, but hopefully something will resonate that may help a parent move beyond barely surviving your child’s death to living once again with love and joy ~ albeit differently ~ and in your own time and way.
The Death of a Child is not something to ‘get over’
A parent’s grief process is a lifelong journey and not a one-time event that is over at the magical one-year anniversary. Your child grows up in your mind and with each missed milestone depending on the age of their death [ie., learning to walk, starting school, getting married, having children, having a successful career etc], you will recycle your present loss along with past losses of every kind within the context of your own personality, your role in the family, and other present stressors, just to name a few factors. Grief will impact every aspect of your being spiritually, emotionally, physically, cognitively and socially and each aspect will need to be processed over and over again in order to integrate it within your life and your family’s life – but you will NEVER get ‘over it!’
Grief is not a step-by-step linear process
Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross never intended her grief theory to be taken so literally, generalized across all loss and grief, and have it cemented as a process that moves from higher intensity denial, anger, bargaining and depression to a final acceptance and peace at being back to ‘normal.’ Unfortunately, many still view grief that way and it causes major complications for those trying to do their own ‘grief work.’ There is no cookie-cutter approach or right way to learning to live without your child’s physical presence. Working through any anger, guilt, grief depression, etc, can feel like you’re on a spiraling rollercoaster tossing you forward and back, up and down and feeling as if it will never end ~ it is not an easy, fast or predictable process. The age of your child, circumstances surrounding the death, your relationship with your child, etc will be different for every parent ~ so don’t expect your process to follow the same path and in the same timeframe. Going with the flow of your own personal journey and giving yourself that permission to take what fits for you and disregard the rest is vital.
Going around grief is not an option
No parent ever wants to cope with a child’s death, but in reality it happens every day around the world ~ children die. You ask yourself “How am I ever going to go on?” Unfortunately, there is no way around grief – one must go through it in order for ‘healing’ or reconciliation and integration within your life to occur. Those early on in this process may not see ‘healing’ or integration as even possible dimensions right now ~ I understand that all too well ~ but ‘healing’ is possible, yet it’s often felt long AFTER it’s actually begun and then continues down the long winding road of life. Over time and a lot of grief work, one is able to move outside of oneself, moving beyond survival to living again. As posed in many grief books the question before you is “Do I become bitter or better?” ~ the choice is yours. From my own personal experience, one CAN live their life with renewed faith, hope and love!
Grief is Intergenerational
What we learn about death and coping with loss as a child in our family-of-origin, in our spiritual/religious and school communities, and from other significant people and environments in our lives impacts how we process our own child’s death. For many families their grief goes underground because talking about death is taboo and the topic becomes the ‘elephant in the room’ ~ everyone sees it but doesn’t acknowledge it or express how they feel or what it means to them. Some may dive into work or try to numb themselves through alcohol, but that only delays, prolongs and complicates an already complicated process. Just because you learned to ‘stuff ‘ your grief as a child doesn’t mean you have to do that as an adult in the present and future. You have a choice and change can be part of that choice. As difficult as it is to do, you do have the power to forge your own way of ‘healing’ in a healthier and more constructive way. And I hope all children today learn that lesson early on in their own lives!
Ongoing Support is Vital
Family, friends and co-workers often don’t know what to say or do around bereaved parents. The unthinkable has happened and much of their uncomfortable feelings come from knowing it could have been them! And oftentimes, after awhile many think you should be further along in your grief than you are - based on that false idea that there’s truly a set timeline and destination to grief – that is why Ongoing Support is so very important for parents and their families. Being able to share your pain, as well as your joy [and yes one CAN laugh in the midst of grief] with another bereaved parent, a support group, a clergy, or anyone that you trust with your innermost thoughts and feelings is vital – someone that will listen with compassion and an open heart without judging your process or telling you to move forward in your life before YOU are ready.
Our children live within us Forever
When we love someone, grief is a fact of life and living. When a child dies, we may feel as if the grief is insurmountable, yet just because your child is not physically present doesn’t mean they aren’t ‘here.’ Having experienced my own spiritual awakenings and ‘love messages’ from my daughter I KNOW Kristen will always be with me. Being open to experiencing Divine synchronicity and grace is not limited to those that practice a specific religion, however – it can occur with anyone open to ‘healing’ one’s heart and spirit.
I hope this brief article on my ‘learnings’ will validate some of what you as a grieving parent may be going through ~ and that you have others in your life that will allow you to grieve in your own way and in your own time ~ moving you toward celebrating your child’s life with renewed meaning and purpose in your own life.©DLG
Throughout my entire life I have tried to see the 'light' around me no matter what 'darkness' has been presented to me. That was never so evident, and most challenging, than when we experienced the sudden death of our daughter, Kristen, from an undiagnosed metabolic disorder.
Anyone who has had a child die can relate to that darkness ~ that ripping apart of oneself, one's family, and one's life ~ emotionally, cognitively, spiritually, physically, socially ~ all in a split second...the second you realize that your child has REALLY died. As excruciatingly painful as that is, however, we DO have a choice about how we will work through the chaos of that darkness.
We can either stay in it and 'die' ourselves or allow ourselves to embrace the darkness and work through the grieving process in order to get through to the other side ~ to not only see the light but to enhance that light the rest of our lives! For me, it's been a union of Kristen's light and love with my own unique light ~ which has 'birthed' the FOD Group and changed my career from teaching to Grief Consulting.
Finding that union has been extremely painful and confusing, yet at the same time releasing and exhilarating. It has been a learning over and over and over again that pain and joy CAN coexist and it is the experiencing and expressing of both those human emotions and everything in-between that promotes an active grief process.
That process is not just a one-time event or 'inside head job' ~ it is a lifelong journey that requires A LOT of Faith, Hope and Love...and a lot of endurance and patience! In order to make MY process ACTIVE instead of passive, I found that it was, and continues to be, necessary to work internally as well as externally ~ individually, with family and friends, and within my own community and beyond.
My work with bereaved parents and the FOD Group is a reflection of what Kristen meant to all of us ~ Love, Light and a great deal of JOY! Yet, getting to that point of finding meaning in her death AND life and a renewed purpose for my own life did not happen overnight. Working through her death occurred over many years and it intertwined with 'recycling' earlier losses and personal issues. As quickly as many would like us to 'get over it' ~ IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!
Understanding this multidimensional process was one thing ~ ANIMATING it was another story! I believe there are 'six eyes of grief' that impact how one sees their own process, as well as how one can be transformed over time by being aware of and open to those factors that can be stirred within you and then animated to move you toward a different kind of 'healing.'
These 'eyes' [Individuality , Intrapsychic , Interpersonal, Intergenerational , Interactional, and Integration] are discussed in my ‘Holistic Healing of a Fractured Heart’©DLG article. These dimensions of grief played a huge part in how I perceived grief for myself. As much as I respect all the grief experts and their own writings, I have come to learn and own what my own process 'looks' like through my own 'eyes.'
Those of you who are in the middle of this process right now KNOW what I am talking about. For me, some days it felt like I was spiraling up and down and on a nonstop treadmill at the same time! When was the pain going to STOP?
In our lives, we all have choices and decisions to make and I hope others won't try to make them for you out of their own fears or issues. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘I know what’s best for you...this is what you need to do.’ Many are uncomfortable around bereaved parents because they just don’t know what to say or do ~ and that is exactly why individual and group support from other bereaved parents is so vital.
I truly believe we all have the power within us to ‘heal’ ~ sometimes, however, we just need to walk beside someone that is farther along on that road to help us see that and feel that hope of embracing life once again.
It is only when you go through the pain that you can feel the joy again ~ as strange as it sounds, the pain is like a healing balm for our hearts and lives, so that over time and with much grief work we can reach some sense of 'wholeness' once again.
As difficult as it is, embrace your loss and follow it through to a new meaning and purpose in life...EACH AND EVERY ONE OF OUR CHILDREN'S LIGHTS IS LEADING THE WAY! ©DLG
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