1. This newsletter is dedicated to professional caregivers. It is our hope that this Summer 2012 newsletter will help you give comfort and strength to those you serve. Overcoming Loneliness After Loss I often ask my bereaved clients, “What hurts the most?” By Dr. Earl A. Grollman Their frequent response, “The loneliness.”Loneliness – An Equal tector, friend or family member, we feel like partOpportunity Offender of us has died along with them.In his classic volume, Loneliness: The Experience We long for a past that cannot be retrieved. Thisof Emotional and Social Isolation, Dr. Robert S. gaping hole – this painful state – is a verification ofWeiss explains the significance of early attach- what we had meant to each other. Loneliness is anments. Children separated from adults, even for integral part of the complex emotions of grief.short intervals, suffer from separation-anxiety.Recall the loneliness and sense of abandonment What is loneliness? Loneliness has many faces:you felt as a young child when your parents wentaway for a week, a day, a few hours, a few minutes. A widow: “I will never find anyone to take his place. I am doomed to a life of loneliness.”Loneliness does not cease with childhood. Then thereare lonely periods that come with crisis, whether it A widower: “I keep busy at work during the dayinvolves moving to a different city or an illness or but when I return at night and the house is empty,divorce. We can also experience loneliness during I’m devastated.”the everyday – even when surrounded by family and A teenager: “Since my dad died, I don’t gofriends who love us. Loneliness affects us all. out with my friends. They are in a different place than me. So I keep to myself.”Death – The Final SeparationDeath is an assault on the meaning of life itself.With the death of a confidante, ally, lover, pro-
2. When we reach out, They should be non-judgmental, safe and willing to listen to our we must choose the right feelings of loneliness and pain. people – family and friends We can learn to admit that we need help. We can learn to accept who allow us to share our the assistance of others. We can learn to tell others what we need – whether it’s help with household chores, babysitting, a hug or a deep-seated emotions. listening ear. A Celtic proverb, “A little help is better than a lot of pity.” Here are a few other ways to reach out: • upport groups. Participating with others who have en- SA grief therapist: “My beloved brother, Rabbi Jerome Groll- dured similar losses help us to fully comprehend our anxietiesman, was my mentor (and sometimes tormentor). The most ex- and frustrations. They have been there before. We don’t havecruciating periods of loneliness erupt in quiet moments when I to explain to them the terrifying experience of loneliness.want to ask him a question, share an experience or seek advice. • elping others. What’s the best cure for loneliness? Some HHow searing this permanent realization when I grasp that I will survivors say, “Simple acts of kindness.” They call it the “help-never hear his voice, his opinions, his observations. Frankly, I er’s high.” When we feel lonely and desperately need to be tak-feel cheated!” en care of, we then take care of others. It gets us out of ourselvesDifferent forms of loneliness. and opens us up to life.Loneliness can be experienced in a number of ways: • rofessional help. When loneliness is unbearable and we P• earning. To see, hear and touch those no longer with us. Y become stuck in our grief, seeking help from professionals is tangible demonstration of our courage and a sign that we are• oss of attachment. The need to feel that deep connection. L ready to rebuild our lives.• efenceless. Feeling unable to manage life’s challenges D without the beloved. One widow told her therapist: “It’s hard going solo.” The therapist helped her gain new insights when he asked, “What do you like• solation. Afraid of forming new bonds – believing that at- I about living alone?” She paused, then answered: “I don’t have to tachments lead to pain. worry about his health every second. I am free to travel. I enjoy• mbiguity. The fear of being alone while feeling a need to A working as a volunteer at my local hospice. And I am learning to avoid others. treasure my alone time.” Then she smiled and said, “Now, I can even put mushrooms in my spaghetti sauce. My husband hatedAlone and Loneliness mushrooms. I love them.”Life does not end with the death of a beloved. We don’t dimin-ish their memories by experiencing moments of serenity, joy and Reaching Inquietude. “If it is to be me it’s up to me.” There is no better insight into grief recovery. Use your time alone to heal. Listen to music. GoOne can be a complete person by deciding to choose to really for a walk. Take a warm bath. Write in a journal. Read a book.live, even if we are alone. Alone only becomes loneliness when Garden. Meditate.the separation makes us forever sad and dejected. How do welearn to enjoy the solo life? More than ever we need interludes of emotional and spiritual re- lease. You may find healing in respite, reprieve and recreation. AsDon’t Withdraw from Life Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Nothing can bring you peace butGail Sheehy in New Passages affirms, “What people need in life yourself.” We find comfort in solitude if only we learn to befriend it.is connections . . . not necessarily a married connection, but con-nections with friends, with one’s community, with colleagues.” Yes, we are lonely because no one can take the place of our be- loved. We can never replace them. But we best commemorateEscaping into loneliness is not a solution. If we stay alone too long, their memories by taking care of ourselves, by reaching out andour homes become protective shells shielding us from confronting connecting with others.our new reality. There are those bereaved who are afraid of “bur-dening” friends and family with their problems Others are afraid oflooking “weak” – thinking that they should be able to take care of About the Authoreverything themselves. Start slowly – make one phone call a day.Then two. Later, make a date with an old friend. Begin to develop Dr. Earl A. Grollman, a pioneer in crisis management, is internationallyrelationships with new friends. One baby step at a time. acclaimed as a writer and lecturer. A recipient of the Death Education Award by the Association for Death Education and Counseling, hisReaching Out books on coping with bereavement have sold close to a million copies.When we reach out, we must choose the right people – fam- For further information, visit www.beacon.org/grollman.ily and friends who allow us to share our deep-seated emotions.
3. The Spiritual Path to Healing: An Introduction by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.A fter the death of someone loved, you are “torn apart” loving attention we need to journey through our grief, that we and have some very unique needs. Among these needs find meaning in our continued living. That is why, if I could, I is to nurture yourself in five important areas: physically, would encourage all of us when we are in the midst of grief to putemotionally, cognitively, socially and spiritually. This article will down “Nurture my spirit” first on our daily to-do lists.focus on nurturing yourself in the spiritual realm.When someone we love dies, it is like a deep hole implodes inside of The Mosaic World We Live Inus. It’s as if the hole penetrates us and leaves us gasping for air. I have Perhaps you have noticed that our world has got much smaller reli-always said we mourn life losses from the inside out. In my experi- giously in the last 50 years. Eastern religions and spiritual practicesence, it is only when we are spiritually nurtured (inside and outside) arrived in the United States and Canada a little more than 150 yearsthat we discover the courage to mourn openly and honestly. ago. Then, in the 1960s, we saw books, lectures and workshops from folks like Thich Nhat Hanh and Ram Dass, who invited us western-To integrate spiritual practices into your life demands a reminder that: ers to explore Eastern spiritual practices. This influx of Eastern tradi- tions and practices created new life to spirituality in North America.• pirituality invites you to slow down and turn inward. S• pirituality invites you to feel deeply and to believe passionately. S While our differences still define us, our potential to borrow meaningful spiritual practices from each other unites us. The• pirituality invites you to get to know your authentic self. S great equalizer – death – invites us to be enriched by learning from each other.• pirituality invites you to celebrate diversity. S As you read this article, while I encourage you to nurture yourself• pirituality invites you to be open to the mystery. S spiritually, I recognize that spirituality and religiosity are not synony-To practice spiritual self-care doesn’t mean you are feeling sorry mous. In some people’s lives they overlap completely; their religiousfor yourself. Rather, it means you are allowing yourself to have life is their spiritual life. Other people have a rich spiritual life withthe courage to pay attention to your special needs. For it is in few or no ties to an organized religion. Obviously, each of us needsspiritually nurturing ourselves, in allowing ourselves the time and to define our own spirituality in the depths of our own hearts and
4. If you have doubt about your capacity to connectwith God and the world around you, try toapproach the world with the openness of a child.minds. The paths we choose will be our own, discovered throughself-examination, reflection and spiritual transformation.My Personal Journey and the “Switch”When grief and loss have touched my life, I have discovered that myown personal source of spirituality anchors me, allowing me to putmy life into perspective. For me, spirituality involves a sense of con- Yet, going through the pain of loss is not in and of itself the goal innection to all things in nature, God, and the world at large. our grief journey. Instead, it is rediscovering life in ways that give us reason to get our feet out of bed and to make life matter. I’m certainSomeone with some wisdom once observed, “Spirituality is like you realize that the death of someone precious to you is not some-a switch. Everybody has one; it’s just that not everyone has it thing you will ever “overcome” or “let go of.” The death of someoneturned on.” Sometimes, experiences of grief and loss can turn off we have given love to and received love from doesn’t call out to beour switch. We are human and sometimes our switches feel stuck, “resolved” or “explained,” but to be experienced.or worse yet, non-existent. Our “divine spark” – that which giveslife meaning and purpose – feels like it has been muted. There are a number of spiritual practices that may help you heal your grieving heart. I grew up in a traditional faith community; I watchedMy switch is turned on when I live from a desire to see a loving God and learned from a variety of people whose “switches” appeared toin the everyday. In the midst of grief, I can still befriend hope, and be in the on position. I have come to appreciate what some mightthe most ordinary moment can feed my soul. Spirituality is anchored term more “traditional” practices, as well as some “non-traditional”in faith, which is expecting goodness even in the worst of times. It is practices. I have observed the simple yet lovely ways different peoplenot about fear, which is expecting the worst even in the best of times. connect with the Divine. I have tried to integrate into my daily life those practices that seem to really connect for me.Spirituality reminds you to understand that you can and will in-tegrate losses into your life, see the goodness in others, and know As you explore the practices in search of those that might bethat there are many pathways to heaven. helpful to you in your grief journey, ask yourself: what broadens my perspective and deepens my faith? What brings me some peace and calms my fears? What deepens my connection withThe Openness of a Child other people, to God, to the world and to my essential self?If you have doubt about your capacity to connect with God andthe world around you, try to approach the world with the open-ness of a child. Embrace the pleasure that comes from the simplesights, smells and sounds that greet your senses. About the AuthorI truly believe that acknowledging your heart is broken is the begin- This article is excerpted from Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s book Healing Yourning of your healing. As you experience the pain of your loss – gently Grieving Soul: 100 Spiritual Practices for Those Who Mourn, available at book stores and at Dr. Wolfelt’s website, www.centerforloss.com.opening, acknowledging and allowing – the suffering it has wrought Dr. Wolfelt is an internationally-noted author, teacher and grief counsellor.diminishes but never completely vanishes. In fact, the resistance to He serves as director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition andthe pain can potentially be more painful than the pain itself. As dif- is an educational consultant to funeral homes, hospices, hospitals,ficult as it is, we must relinquish ourselves to the pain of grief. As schools and a variety of community agencies across North America.Helen Keller said, “The only way to the other side is through.” “Providing A Full Range Of Funeral Services” THE CHAPEL IN THE PARK “This newsletter is provided with our compliments SAAMIS MEMORIAL FUNERAL CHAPEL in the hope that the information it contains will CREMATORIUM assist you in helping families, relatives and friends (24 HR. SERVICE) 528-2599 • 1-800-317-2647 during the loss of a loved one”. #1 Dunmore Road S.E. Cameron Davis • Roger Sept Medicine Hat, Alta. T1A 1Z5 email@example.com • www.saamis.com