Fall 2016

Fifteen years after the attacks on 9/11, the United States continues to grieve. Below are two articles about the ways we have mourned as a nation, together and separately, since that day.

Ten Years and a Diagnosis Later, 9/11 Demons Haunt Thousands” – This article documents the mental health ramifications of 9/11 for so many.

15 Years After 9/11, a Brother Confronts Grief’s Long Arc” – The story of a brother who lost his sister, and the fifteen years that followed.

“9/11 – A day to remember that extraordinary heroes are often disguised as ordinary people and that spirit and soul are unbreakable.” –Stacey Alcorn

Registration

Register now for our June 14th training in Fort Collins.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

REGISTRATION for June 14 Training

Your Message


May Newsletter

Grief and Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 8th is Mother’s Day in the United States. Each Mother’s Day we celebrate moms and it is often a day filled with fun, laughter and love. But what if your mother has died? What if your mother is emotionally absent, possibly due to dementia or Alzheimer’s or just not in your life? What if you are a mother whose child has died? Mother’s Day can take on a whole new meaning if you are grieving a mother or a child. This Mother’s Day, consider reading one of these articles. Each of us at some point will experience this type of loss or know someone who has. Comfort can be found knowing you are not alone. In this article from Hello Grief, the author shares her experiences on Mother’s Day from the perspective of a woman who has experienced the death of her mother. “Mother’s Day, Minus Mom” Yoga instructor Jennifer Jarrett shares her own experiences, and some ideas for how to celebrate a mother who has died. “A Motherless Mother’s Day” The Alzheimer’s Association published a beautiful article, “Remembering Mom” by Jennifer Frazee Rodi. In this article, Ms. Rodi writes a letter to friends and family pointing out that although her mom, who without memories of her own, leaves the heartfelt gift of invaluable legacies and memories – a very poignant and touching letter. For a mother who has lost a child, Mother’s Day can be a day filled with many emotions – remembering the pain, the beauty, the sadness, the joy – each emotion authentic and deserving of attention. Here, Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, writes about the many experiences a mother who has lost a child may have on Mother’s Day. “Being the Mother of a Child Who Died – On Mother’s Day

May is Military Appreciation Month

In this moving Ted talk, “How to Talk to Veterans about the War,” given by Army Veteran Captain Wes Moore, he helps to answer the all to familiar question “what do I say?” when interacting with those who have dedicated their lives to serve our country. In remembering our men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have given their lives this Memorial Day, please take a moment to view this important talk to help raise awareness of how a meaningful conversation can hold so much value to those who have served, while also gaining insight on the true meaning of saying “thank you for your service”. Our hope is this talk will inspire members of our community to ask questions and have conversations with those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as to motivate others to enquire with the friends, families and fellow soldiers who lost a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during their service. All stories are valuable and deserving of a voice.

 

“Grief 101” Training Opportunity

Grief Support of the Rockies is excited to announce we will be offering a half-day training to clinicians on the do’s and don’ts of providing effective grief therapy for your grieving clients. Date: Tuesday 6/14/16 Time: 9:00am-12:30pm Cost: $55/person Call or email us at (970) 235-2076 or gsrockies@gmail.com to reserve a spot!

  Found on a Tombstone in Ireland, 1889:
Death leaves a heartache difficult to heal; Love leaves sweet memories no one can steal.
[mc4wp_form id=”945″]

April Newsletter

National Infertility Awareness Week

April 24-30 is National Infertility Awareness week and the theme this year is “You Are Not Alone”. This is such an appropriate message, as many women and couples say they feel disenfranchised in their journey to becoming parents when faced with infertility. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 12 percent of women between the ages of 15 – 44 have trouble conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term – which is almost one out of every eight women/couples. Getting pregnant and having a baby is often assumed to be one of the most exciting times of a couple’s life – relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors come together to offer celebratory gifts of congratulations. But for couples struggling with infertility and fertility related complexities, trying to get pregnant takes on a whole new meaning. Couples now become shrouded with layers of medical and financial problems they never thought possible – not to mention the physical, emotional, psychological, religious/spiritual and societal stressors that it creates as well. Couples facing infertility are laden with grief. The inability to conceive a child can certainly evoke feelings of shock, disbelief, confusion and loss – similar to those who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth. Here are 10 things Grief Support of the Rockies have found to be helpful for those dealing with infertility:

  1. Know you are not alone. Many couples suffer in silence. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk about infertility. Over 60% of couples hide their struggle of getting pregnant from friends and family.
  2. Those dealing with infertility don’t need advice or to be told a story about how someone you knew got pregnant by “just relaxing” or by some other plausible story. The couple trying to conceive has tried or is trying everything!
  3. Sharing with someone dealing with infertility that you are pregnant will hurt, but not telling them hurts even more. Include them in everything while also recognizing that this news may be difficult to hear. Offer the space for your friend or family member to let you know what is or is not okay.
  4. Those dealing with infertility may decline family gatherings for a while. Please be patient, they are doing their best moment to moment. However, a sincere, “We will miss you” can be a very comfortable way to show your support.
  5. Remember that infertility is a medical disease and is no longer considered to be a woman’s problem – 30% male, 30% female and 20% both partners and 10% is unexplained.
  6. Communication is important, as men and women will experience this journey differently. Talk about your limitations and what options are plausible – be respectful and open to discussion.
  7. Stress does not cause infertility; however, infertility will cause stress. Finding ways to reduce stress is helpful. Remember to eat healthy, exercise reasonably and most importantly, have some fun.
  8. Secondary infertility is real. As one woman wrote us, “Even though I was blessed to have one child, the inability not to conceive again, to me, is just as devastating as other infertile couples.”
  9. Know when to seek help – it is okay and normal to want to reach out to others for support and guidance. Meeting with a certified or licensed mental health professional who specializes in this field can help women/couples work through their grief, fear, anxiety and other emotions they experience. Friends and family often hope to offer support as well. If friends and family haven’t reached out for a while, they sometimes simply need an invitation to do so. Often friends and family are concerned they won’t “say the right thing” or will “remind” the couple of their journey, unintentionally alienating those they want to help the most. Peer support can also be a valuable resource to help normalize the journey you are on.
  10. Wherever you are in your journey, please know there are also wonderful gifts that come while on this path. Pay attention to them, as you are more than your fertility journey!
Resources:

Resolve: The National Infertility Association

American Society of Reproductive Medicine

Talking About Men’s Health

Breaking the Silence on Infertility

Infertility: A Hidden Struggle

Grief Support of the Rockies offers a coordinated healing plan for those who are impacted by grief. We take pride in the services we provide and the clinicians who are here to serve you are experts in the field. We are in the process of updating our website and hope to have all our programs and services available online in the next several weeks. In the meantime, please contact us directly for questions or more information. Please know we are here to support you. gsrockies@gmail.com (970) 235-2076

“Grief 101” Training Opportunity

Grief Support of the Rockies is excited to announce we will be offering a half-day training to clinicians on the do’s and don’ts of providing effective therapy for your grieving clients. Date: Tuesday 6/14/16 Time: 9:00am-12:30pm Cost: $55/person

National Donate Life Month

Don’t forget – April is National Donate Life Month! For more information on organ and tissue donation, or for information on how to register to be a donor, visit the Donate Life America website here. donate_life

Other news

Are you Grieving?

Bonnie Cochran, LCSW, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, is accepting registrations for The Grief Recovery Method Training. This is an action program for moving beyond death, divorce, and other losses. There are over 40 loss experiences including death, divorce, moving, pet loss, change in financial stability and loss of trust. This interactive workshop is a safe place to examine what you’ve been taught about loss, explain your beliefs about grief, and will guide you in completing a set of actions that will enable you to move forward in your life with hope and healing. Once equipped with these tools, you will be able to work through other losses that you have experienced in your life.

Fort Collins Schedule: 3 Day Weekend Workshop: April 29 – May 1, 8:30 – 5:30 3 Day Weekend Workshop: July 15 – July 17, 8:30 – 5:30 6 Day Workshop: September 29 – November 3, 5:30 – 7:30 For more information and to register please contact Bonnie Cochran, LCSW at 970 222-1517 or bonnie@growtobestrong.com

Bonnie Cochran to speak at the Omega Institute

Bonnie Cochran, LCSW will be teaching The Tuning Effect™ with Mel Bucholtz, MA, a prodigy of Dr. Milton Erickson at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in New York, August 5 – 7. Course: SM16-3502-716. The Tuning Effect™ is a self-awareness training program that teaches the brain how to separate itself from emotionally charged issues by focusing attention on physical sensations in the body. The Tuning Effect™ produces a profound feeling of stillness and stability in the body and mind when our brain activity is coordinated with our senses. Our bodies and minds are then in sync with each other, and most importantly, we can consciously identify this feeling. Once learned, and recognized, like balancing on a bicycle, the effect becomes repeatable. Anyone interested in a new way to positively resolve difficult emotions is welcome. Helping professionals gain a valuable new tool to use with their clients. For more information, visit the Omega Institute website here.

Couples Therapy

Co-founder Jessica Kuhn, MA specializes in grief and loss and couples counseling. She is a Level 1 PACT clinician and an EMDR practitioner. The Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT) was developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin and involves a combination of attachment theory, developmental neuroscience and arousal regulation. PACT has transformed the way Jessica works with couples, and she finds these sessions to be not only effective, but fun and energizing as well. Jessica is currently accepting new couples and individuals in her private practice. For more information or to schedule an appointment, click here

.

Compassion Cultivation Training

Certified CCT Teacher, Amanda D. Mahoney, MA, MFT will be offering the next round of Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) in August 2016 in Fort Collins and Boulder. Please click here for more information or to register for these upcoming classes! Do you crave a more authentic connection with others during your daily interactions, wanting to see life through a more compassionate lens? Learn to intentionally choose compassionate thoughts and actions that help relate to others and yourself in a more connected way. Register for Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) today!

[mc4wp_form id=”945″]

March Newsletter

April is National Donate Life Month

At Grief Support of the Rockies, we are passionate about organ and tissue donation. According to Donor Alliance, 67% of Coloradoans and 59% of Wyoming citizens are registered donors (4). Organ and tissue donation gives hope to the more than 123,000 men, women and children in the United States who are awaiting these lifesaving gifts (1). There are many misconceptions about organ and tissue donation. Some misconceptions come from a simple lack of awareness on the subject, while other misconceptions are created by incorrect or misguided story lines in the entertainment industry. Having and sharing accurate information about organ and tissue donation can save a life. Here is a list of important organ and tissue donation facts to consider that will hopefully clarify any misconceptions or preconceived notions about donation.

10 Important Donation Facts to Consider

  1. Organ donation: includes heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, small bowel – up to 8 lives can be saved by one organ donor. (2)
  2. Tissue donation: bone, tendons, corneas, veins, valves and skin – more than 100 lives can be enhanced through tissue donation. (2)
  3. Every 10 minutes another person is added to the national organ transplant waiting list in the United States. (1)
  4. Twenty-one people die every day waiting for an organ – more than 6500 deaths per year. (2)
  5. 1 in 4 donors is not biologically related. (2)
  6. Factors considered in making an organ “match” include medical need, location of donor and recipient, and compatibility. (2)
  7. In Colorado more than 2,500 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant. (3)
  8. Buying and selling organs and tissues is not allowed for donation purposes, but is allowed for research. (2)
  9. Families do not pay for organ donation. Costs related to donation are paid by the recipient, usually through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
  10. You are never too old or unhealthy to register to be a donor (4). More information on the requirements to become a donor can be found here.
Click here to become a donor

Upcoming Donate Life Events

Bonnie, Amanda, Jessica April 15 – National Blue and Green Day – join us in wearing blue and green to support donation!   April 30Wyoming Donor Dash
 

Therapist Spotlight

This month, we will take a look at what makes our co-founder Amanda Mahoney an invaluable asset to our community! Amanda Mahoney Amanda D. Mahoney, MA is a private practitioner in Colorado who has been dedicated to supporting grieving children and families for over a decade. She has and continues to speak on the local and national level on the topic of children’s grief, teen grief, pet loss, compassion fatigue and self-care. She has provided hospital-based, home-based, school-based and office-based therapy to individuals, families and children grieving the death of someone close. Amanda received her BA from Boston College and her MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. A Certified Teacher of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) through the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University, she was excited to be the first to offer CCT in Colorado. Amanda is co-founder of Grief Support of the Rockies and offers Compassion Cultivation Training in Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver.

Look for information on a half-day training by Grief Support of the Rockies for therapists and mental health professionals – coming Summer 2016.

Other News

Need to Talk?

Co-founder Jessica Kuhn, MA specializes in grief and loss and couples counseling. She is a Level 1 PACT clinician and an EMDR practitioner. The Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT) was developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin and involves a combination of attachment theory, developmental neuroscience and arousal regulation. PACT has transformed the way Jessica works with couples, and she finds these sessions to be not only effective, but fun and energizing as well. Jessica is currently accepting new couples and individuals in her private practice. For more information or to schedule an appointment, click here.

Are you Grieving?

Bonnie Cochran, LCSW and Maggie Tibbetts, LCSW Certified Grief Recovery Specialists are accepting registrations for The Grief Recovery Method class. This is an action program for moving beyond death, divorce, and other losses. There are over 40 loss experiences including death, divorce, moving, pet loss, change in financial stability and loss of trust. This interactive workshop is a safe place to examine what you’ve been taught about loss, explain your beliefs about grief, and will guide you in completing a set of actions that will enable you to move forward in your life with hope and healing. Once equipped with these tools, you will be able to work through other losses that you have experienced in your life. Fort Collins Schedule: Free Informational presentation: March 31, 5:30 – 7:00 3 Day Weekend Workshop: April 29 – May 1, 8:30 – 5:30 3 Day Weekend Workshop: July 15 – July 17, 8:30 – 5:30 6 Day Workshop: September 29 – November 3, 5:30 – 7:30 For more information and to register please contact Bonnie Cochran, LCSW at 970 222-1517 or bonnie@growtobestrong.com baf6da5d-3955-44ca-ab1e-a72707305e72

Compassion Cultivation Training

Co-founder Amanda D. Mahoney, MA has another offering of her Compassion Cultivation Training coming up in Fort Collins and Boulder! Fort Collins: March 30-May 18, 2016, 5:30pm-7:30pm Boulder: March 29-May 17, 2016, 5:30pm-7:30pm Do you crave a more authentic connection with others during your daily interactions, wanting to see life through a more compassionate lens? Learn to intentionally choose compassionate thoughts and actions that help relate to others and yourself in a more connected way. Register today for Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) led by certified CCT teacher Amanda D. Mahoney, M.A. Register at coloradocct.com
“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” –Jose N. Harris
[mc4wp_form id=”945″]

February Newsletter

Grieving the Death of a Partner or Significant Other

February is often thought of as the “month of love”. Valentine’s Day is a cultural phenomenon – restaurants, roses, chocolates. For many, it is a day to celebrate. For others, it is a painful reminder of what they have lost. At GSR, we recognize that, no matter the relationship to the person who died, no two people grieve in the same way. Although two people may have experienced the loss of a partner, that does not automatically make their grief the same. Noticing commonalities can make the grieving individual feel less alone. When a person loses a spouse, partner, or significant other, there are sometimes unique challenges and these challenges can be exacerbated during specific times of the year when others are celebrating and experiencing the season through a completely different lens. Below, we discuss several of those unique challenges.
  • A shift in identity: When we spend a large portion of our lives with someone, we inevitably take on roles in the relationship. One person may be the financial “breadwinner”, the primary parent, the one who takes out the trash, the person who plans the meals and prepares dinner, the one who handles the banking or vacuuming or laundry, etc. When a partner or spouse dies, our roles shift. Even more profound, many people find themselves asking, “Am I still a husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend?”
  • Need for intimacy: Human beings have an innate need for physical contact – sexual or otherwise. The death of a spouse or partner leaves many without physical contact. For some, the thought of engaging in a sexual relationship with someone new may seem impossible. For others, sexual intimacy with new partners may be a place where they find healing, whether the healing is perceived or genuine.
  • Changing relationships: Many people report that when their partner died, they lost their “best friend”. This can make their loss feel heavier or more overwhelming because the grieving person had more than one relationship need fulfilled within a single relationship with this person. In addition, people often report that they feel isolated from social circles they were once a part of, and feel excluded from “couples” events with friends.
  • Parenting challenges: Imagine going from co-parenting to being a single parent. The pressures of raising children can feel very difficult under the best circumstances, and can be overwhelming when the grieving person is alone with the responsibilities. Many times the overwhelm in decision making, conflict resolution, etc. in solo-parenting can concretize the solitude found in being forced to move through the journey of parenting without their partner.
  • Financial challenges: The death of a partner can be emotionally devastating as well as financially devastating. If the partner was the breadwinner in the family, that creates a financial burden for the surviving partner. If the relationship was a two-income relationship, that still means that the family has lost at least half of their income. If the partner who dies was the primary parent, then the surviving parent must figure out how to pay for childcare. Life insurance can be helpful in these cases, but does not always solve financial problems.
  • Pressure to date/remarry: Sometimes, friends and loved ones can “push” a grieving spouse into dating and/or remarrying. Often this push is out of love, but for the bereaved it can sometimes feel like an impossible task. People who play a supportive role in the grieving person’s life don’t always know how to support them. In order to help them “move on” or “get over” the loss, people in supportive roles may think that finding love again will heal the loss. What gets lost, however, is that the grieving person doesn’t simply “move on” or “get over” the death of a spouse or partner. Grief and mourning take time, and the only person who gets to decide the timeline is the person grieving. Beginning to date again and the possibility of remarriage may be of interest after time and healing have occurred. Sometimes they won’t be of interest. Both are okay.
How can you take care of yourself?
  • Make friends with your grief – practice self-compassion
  • Talk to friends and family – don’t be afraid to set boundaries if you are not receiving what you need from them
  • Attend a support group, church service, or talk with a friend or acquaintance who also has lost a spouse or partner
  • Write in a journal or write a letter to your partner
  • Keep their photos out and visible
  • Say their name out loud
  • Engage in physical activity – the endorphins released when we exercise can improve our mood. Simply changing environments and getting out of the house can help too.
  • Don’t isolate – Some time alone can be important, but spending all our time alone and not opening ourselves up to the love and support of others can be a slippery slope in our grief and can lead to further isolation, depression, and other symptoms that may inhibit the healing process.
  • Lower expectations for yourself – Listen to your body and mind. If you are tired, rest. If you are thirsty, drink water. If you need to take time off from work or school, do it if you can. Grief is work.
Resources after the death of a partner: Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies, by Marta Felber Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the loss of a spouse by Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge One Fit Widow on Facebook Grief Support of the Rockies

Other news

Co-founder Amanda D. Mahoney, MA has another offering of her Compassion Cultivation Training coming up in Fort Collins and Boulder! Fort Collins: March 23-May 11, 2016, 5:30pm-7:30pm Boulder: March 29-May 17, 2016, 5:30pm-7:30pm Do you crave a more authentic connection with others during your daily interactions, wanting to see life through a more compassionate lens? Learn to intentionally choose compassionate thoughts and actions that help relate to others and yourself in a more connected way. Register today for Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) led by certified CCT teacher Amanda D. Mahoney, M.A. Register at coloradocct.com baf6da5d-3955-44ca-ab1e-a72707305e72 Are you Grieving? Bonnie Cochran, LCSW and Maggie Tibbetts, LCSW Certified Grief Recovery Specialists are accepting registrations for The Grief Recovery Method Training. This is an action program for moving beyond death, divorce, and other losses. There are over 40 loss experiences including death, divorce, moving, pet loss, change in financial stability and loss of trust. This interactive workshop is a safe place to examine what you’ve been taught about loss, explain your beliefs about grief, and will guide you in completing a set of actions that will enable you to move forward in your life with hope and healing. Once equipped with these tools, you will be able to work through other losses that you have experienced in your life. Fort Collins Schedule: Free Informational presentation: March 23, 5:30 – 7:00 3 Day Weekend Workshop: April 29 – May 1, 8:30 – 5:30 3 Day Weekend Workshop: July 15 – July 17, 8:30 – 5:30 6 Day Workshop: September 29 – November 3, 5:30 – 7:30 For more information and to register please contact Bonnie Cochran, LCSW at 970 222-1517 or bonnie@growtobestrong.com
“One knows what one has lost, but not what one may find.” –George Sand
[mc4wp_form id=”945″]

January Newsletter

Exciting Announcement

There have been some exciting additions at GSR in the new year! Amanda Mahoney and Jessica Kuhn are very excited to announce that Bonnie Cochran, LCSW will be joining the Grief Support of the Rockies team. With over twenty years of experience as a clinician in grief support, we are certain the expertise Bonnie brings to our organization will be invaluable. Collectively, we look forward to continuing to offer quality grief support services led by licensed and registered psychotherapists with extensive educational backgrounds, training and expertise in grief and loss. Together we have almost 40 years of experience working with grieving children, teens and adults and feel fortunate to have been and continue to be mentored by experts in the field, including Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD and Michelle Post, LMFT (a member of Dr. J. William Worden’s Southern California Bereavement Specialist Group 2004-present). Our education, training and professional obligations hold us to the highest standards for the well-being of our clientele. We are confident that Bonnie will be a wonderful addition in supporting our mission. Look for information on an open house in the coming months.

About Bonnie

bonnie_sized
Bonnie C. Cochran, LCSW is a Board Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work with over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist, specializing in grief, loss, bereavement and reproductive trauma. Her passion, throughout her career, has been working with families that have lost a child, perinatal loss and reproductive trauma, infertility and acute crisis care. Bonnie has a Hospice background, serving families in all stages of loss – from a terminal medical diagnosis through bereavement follow-up care. She is a certified facilitator in The Grief Recovery Program and continues to be on the Community Crisis Debriefing team, serving northern Colorado. Bonnie has received extensive training in Mind/Body modalities, having personally trained with Herbert Benson – Relaxation Response (Harvard Medical School); Mel Bucholtz, MA – The Tuning Effect (a prodigy of Milton Erickson, MD); and Pat Ogden, PhD – Sensorimotor Psychotherapy in Boulder. She is also a certified teacher for Loss & Found, a program she designed and created with Mel Bucholtz, MA for The Omega Institute in NY. In addition to her private psychotherapy practice, Bonnie volunteers her time and professional mental health support services to veterans through the Give an Hour program. Bonnie is also a co-founder of 3Hopeful Hearts, a nonprofit organization that supports bereaved parents and families in northern Colorado. Bonnie is proud to have worked for the last seven years helping to support bereaved families and promote public awareness before stepping away to pursue other avenues of support for the bereaved. Bonnie continues to lecture nationally around the many complexities that grief encompasses, helping people create their journey to healthy healing and discovery.

You survived the new year… Now what?

Most people enter the new year with wondrous ideas of hopeful transformation – a time to reflect over the past year and remind us of the changes we want to make for a better future. But for those grieving, standing at the doorstep of a new year can be quite complex. While many feel they are forced to step over the threshold, leaving their loved one behind, some feel they are ready for the previous year to end, yet finding themselves entering with great trepidation. Wherever you are in your grief journey, please know that you are not alone and we are here to help.

How to support those who are grieving

People often struggle to support a grieving friend or loved one – not knowing what to say, how to express their feelings or even how to approach this very unifying experience. We do not talk in a healthy way about death and dying. Instead, there has been a trend in our recent past to pathologize the grief process, ignore it, or even deny the experience altogether. When an opportunity to support someone who is grieving presents itself, a caring individual, friend or partner can be left feeling helpless, perpetuating a sense of isolation for both parties and often resulting in limited conversations and/or support. Here are a few helpful ideas to keep in mind if someone you care for is grieving: There is no predictable, orderly way to grieve. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. When someone we care about is grieving, it is helpful to remind ourselves that no two people grieve in the same way. This is not only okay, it is common and expected. Some people grieve quietly, others grieve loudly. Some people reach out while others isolate. Some people want to attend a support group, others may prefer individual support or support from religious leaders, friends or family. A grieving person may interact in their daily lives as they had prior to the death, and suddenly, their grief may hit them like a wave in the ocean – powerful and at times, unexpected. This is commonly referred to as a grief burst. If we can remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and that grief can come to us at unexpected times, it allows us to simply be present with our loved ones while they walk through their grief. It also creates space for us to recall that, even though a person may be presenting in a manner that feels familiar to a time before their loss, their grief is still valid and present. People do not “get over” a death or “move on” from a loss. The people we cared about, loved and lost and the memories we created with them will stay with us always. The grief we experience does not simply disappear. With time and work, the sadness changes, ebbs and flows. It does not simply go away. Outdated and unhelpful euphemisms like “get over it” or “it’s better this way” are often unhelpful because these statements create shame, isolation, and contribute to self-doubt. Dr. J. William Worden, PhD speaks about the Four Tasks of Mourning. During this very fluid process based in developmental psychology, the grieving person is encouraged to recognize these tasks as part of their grief process. Among the four tasks is to experience the pain of the loss. If we are encouraging the grieving person to “get over it” we are denying them a supportive, compassionate environment to process and experience the pain of the loss. Remember: with grief, there is no timeline. Being “strong” does not mean suppressing our feelings. Often, the grieving person is told to “be strong”. This advice is not only offered to adults, but children too. What is the message that we are sending to those we care for when we tell them to “be strong”? Are we giving them permission to grieve at their own pace, to talk about their feelings of grief and loss or are we telling them to “buck up, get over it”? Are we telling them they are doing something wrong, that being in their feelings is equal to being weak? At Grief Support of the Rockies, we firmly believe that being strong means being with your feelings of grief and loss. It can be a lot easier to suppress your feelings of grief and loss, to ignore them or minimize them. Going into the emotion, unpacking what is coming up for you in order to process and move forward in a new way takes not only strength, but courage. The best gift we can give a grieving person is to simply sit with them while they grieve. Dr. Alan Wolfelt says we should “listen with the heart” instead of the mind. Grief is not a problem to be solved, but rather an answer to a loss. We can be with the grieving person, and we can listen with our hearts. So, what can you do for a grieving loved one? Listen with the heart. Deliver meals. Say the name of the person who died instead of referring to them as “he” or “she” or “they”. Share memories. Call to check in. Research shows that communication to a grieving person decreases significantly 3 months after the death. Offer to listen, not to problem solved. Allow the grieving person to be the expert on their grief. Love. Offer compassion. Validate their experience. Avoid euphemisms like “it’s better this way”, “be strong”, “they wouldn’t want you to be sad”, “you were lucky to have them as long as you did”, etc. Be honest with your feelings of sadness, with your uncertainty of how to support them or what to say and offer to simply listen as often as needed. Be comfortable with not knowing how to “solve” their grief – grief is not a problem to be solved, but rather an answer to a loss.

Other News

Co-founder Amanda D. Mahoney, MA has another offering of her Compassion Cultivation Training coming up in Fort Collins and Boulder! Fort Collins: March 23-May 11, 2016, 5:30pm-7:30pm Boulder: March 29-May 17, 2016, 5:30pm-7:30pm Do you crave a more authentic connection with others during your daily interactions, wanting to see life through a more compassionate lens? Learn to intentionally choose compassionate thoughts and actions that help relate to others and yourself in a more connected way. Register today for Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) led by certified CCT teacher Amanda D. Mahoney, M.A. Register at coloradocct.com
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving
[mc4wp_form id=”945″]