1. ... and now faith, hope and love abide In the midst of one of life's most challenging and sorrowful times, it can be difficult to find peace. Yet, even in uncertainty, every moment provides the opportunity to cherish the days God has given ... ... to trust in those who provide compassion, care and support in times of need, and to have faith in the grace of a Father and the promise of all that is yet to come. ... to reflect upon successes, small miracles and lessons learned, and to instill hopein hearts overwhelmed with grief that they may be strengthened and comforted by memories that will not fade. ... to seek purpose and meaning in each joyful encounter, tearful parting, gentle silence or tender embrace and to offer and receive love abundantly without condition or cause, secure in the knowledge that above all else, it will last forever. on your Support and encouragementfor those mourning the loss of a loved one Volume 1 You are receiving this mailing because someone you cared for was receiving comfort care from Luther Manor at the end of his or her life. They have found relief from the pain and debility of their life, but now there is an emptiness in your life. You no longer have that caregiving responsibility. You no longer have that person with whom to share your experiences and your love. You have experienced a loss. In an effort to help you grow through the grieving process associated with your loved one's death, you will be receiving several mailings throughout the year. The mailings will contain articles on grief, prayers, meditations and resources for your consideration to help you cope with your loss. Unfortunately, no one can take away your grief without you experiencing pain, but these items can assist you in your journey. Your ability to concentrate is seriously impaired by grief, particularly soon after the death. Be gentle with yourself. You don't have to read every article of this mailing when you get it. Find the articles or quotations that are pertinent to you today, and then put the mailing in a safe place to pull it out later. Next month or in three months you may be better able to read and retain the information. Our Bereavement Counselor, is available to accompany you during this time of sorrow. She may have already contacted you by phone or left you a message. She is willing to talk to you after normal business hours if that works best for you. Remember that God will provide you with individuals and resources such as programs, books and support groups. Feel that gentle tug in your heart when He wants to provide those supports to you. s~ Peace be i t h you, Q^V^OJ Luther Manor Bereavement Counselor (414) 464-3880, ext. 353 L U T H E R M A N O R
2. God can see into your broken heart, my friend. He hears the groaning from the depths of your grief. He can understand what you are experiencing and thinking and feeling. He knows what you want to say or need to say, but find it impossible to say. He accepts that helpless feeling as your prayer, -by Dr. Oswald Hoffmann The grieving process I can't imagine all the thoughts and feelings you are having right now, but I can tell you a bit about the experience of grieving. Grieving is, first of all, a process. It takes time; it cannot be rushed. Each of us handles loss in our own way, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. While each experience of mourning is unique, there are, nevertheless, some similarities in the process. One of those similarities is that there seems to be certain phases that we all go through as we grieve. Right now, you may be feeling numb, confused and disorganized. You may feel that things are not real, that this is a dream, or that your loved one will return. These experiences characterize the first stage of grief. This part of grieving doesn't usually last very long, but it helps you get through what you have to get through. The second phase is where you end up doing most of your grief work. Work? Yes, mourning is work; you may not be doing any heavy labor, but grieving requires a lot of mental labor and readjustment. The trauma of a major loss can also be thought of as a kind of wound. If you use these two analogies, you can see that you'll probably need extra sleep, good nutrition and exercise. Your emotions may run the gamut from deep sadness, to anger, to irritability, to anxiousness, to depression. You may feel that you are losing control or going crazy. Don't worry. There is no one way to mourn and these are all normal reactions to grieving. Another aspect of this stage of grief is the experience of "secondary losses." You will find yourself mourning not only your primary loss, but all the other little losses connected to it. When one woman's only son died, for example, she not only mourned her son but the fact that there would be no grandchildren and no one to look after her in her old age. Sometimes people have experiences of seeing or feeling the person who died. These experiences are often encouraging and comforting. They remind us of our belief that there is life after death and that both the living and the dead are part of the "communion of saints" in which all believers share. The final phase of mourning is called the "reconciliation phase." Reconciliation is what occurs as the mourner works to integrate the new reality of moving forward in life without the physical presence of the person who died. The sharp, ever-present pain of grief gives rise to a renewed sense of meaning and purpose. Your feelings of loss will not completely disappear, yet they will soften, and the intense pangs of grief will become less frequent. Hope for a continued life will emerge as you are able to make commitments to the future, realizing that the person who died will never be forgotten, yet knowing that your life can and will move forward. It may help you to know that this phase will come; you will feel better eventually. Many people do most of their grief work in a year or two, but it varies considerably. Allow yourself the same grace and love our Lord lesus gives to you.
3. Coping with the physical stress of grieving Within the first few months of the loss of someone central in your life, it is a good idea to have a complete physical checkup. Mention the loss to your physician along with any new symptoms that you have noticed. Otherwise, you may want to consider the following activities on a daily basis to keep yourself in shape during your grief. Attempt to keep a regular sleep and wake cycle; rest more often than usual. Eat as well as you can; drink water. Take sufficient time off from work. Simplify your schedule, eliminate activities that take too much energy. Move your body - walk, bike ride, exercise, swim. Loaf and rest. Listen to music. Talk to friends or family; join a support group. Pray and meditate. Journal about your feelings. Get massages. Avoid alcohol and drug use. Understand the difference between grief and mourning By Dr. Alan Wolfelt, from the book Healing Your Grieving Body: 100 Physical Practicesfor Mourners. Grief is a constellation of internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone loved dies. Grief is the weight in the chest, the churning in the gut, the unspeakable thoughts and feelings. Mourning is the outward expression of grief. Mourning is crying, journaling, creating artwork, talking to others about the death, telling the story, speaking the unspeakable. Everyone grieves when someone loved dies, but if we are to heal, we must also mourn. If you grieve, but don't mourn, your body will keep telling you it is under distress. Over time, and with the support of others, to mourn is to heal. ifatfier a met