Bereavement/Grief: Everything you want to know about bereavement and grief and some things you don't

"When a person is born, - we rejoice; When they are married - we celebrate; When they die, - we pretend nothing happened......." Margaret Mead I am certifiable but I'm not crazy: My husband is ...

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"When a person is born, - we rejoice; When they are married - we celebrate; When they die, - we pretend nothing happened......."
Margaret Mead

I am certifiable but I'm not crazy:

My husband is fond of telling his friends that I am "certifiable." The joke
may be getting old but actually, he's right. I have all the credentials to
prove it. I am, among other things, a Certified Bereavement Counselor. But
my chief profession, goes back to the beginning of time and no it's not what
you're thinking. I am a funeral director.

I have found that I am better at helping other people in grief than helping
myself when I lose someone close to me. No matter what knowledge or
expertise we possess, when you lose a loved one, our world is turned upside
down. Mine did.

You may feel, as I did, that you are going crazy. You're not. Grief causes
us to think, feel and behave differently than we would ordinarily.

You Can't Escape It:

A harsh reality - Once a person is born the only way out of this world is to

Death touches every person, not just once in a lifetime, but many times. Our
grandparents, parents, spouses, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins,
children and our friends die. We cannot escape the pain of loss. It is a
major mistake to try to deny the feelings of emptiness and hurt that we feel,
when someone we love has died.

Death may force you to realize that for the first time in your life you have
no control over what happens. This was extremely difficult for me, since I
am a take charge type of person and accustomed to having control over my
life, and the lives of others.


Often after the death of a loved one we ask WHY ME? You might not say it,
but you will probably think it - Why me ? I never did anything to anybody,
I'm a good person. I never hurt anyone. Why not the rotten people in the
world? Why did this happen to me? This is such a common reaction. We don't
expect an answer, but the question "WHY?" seems to need to be asked
repeatedly in an effort to make sense of the loss. The question may be
unanswered, but it is important to ask the question until we can take the
steps of letting the question go. WHY? is not really a question, but a cry
of pain. I believe that death comes to everyone in an arbitrary way. I do
not believe that people are singled out, or chosen for misfortune.

After the death of a loved one, it is difficult to think that you will ever
be happy again. You will have choices to make - to exist or to really live -
to sit and grieve and to let your grief drag you down - or to try to rebuild
your life. It will be different without your loved one, but life can be
enjoyed again. It is important to seek meaning in living.


There is no timetable for grief. It is different for everyone. The depth,
scope and duration of your grief depends on your relationship with the person
who died, the support you receive, your personality and your ability to
effectively work on your grief.

The first year of bereavement brings raw pain, disbelief, the agony of
reality and many other deep emotions. Grief has its common and unique sides.
Everyone grieves differently, so don't compare yourself to others or place
yourself on a timetable. Although it is a universal experience, no two
people grieve the same, even in the same family. Grief is like fingerprints
or snowflakes, no two are alike.

Life is a process, nothing ever stays the same. You won't feel exactly the
same next year as you feel today. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to
the death of a loved one. Most of us are not prepared for the long journey
of grief which is sometimes devastating, frightening and lonely. We may
think, do and say things that are very unlike us.


While you go through this journey of grief try to keep a sense of balance.
Laughter and a sense of humor are important tools in handling your grief and
maintaining your health. According to Norman Cousins laughter is a form of
internal jogging. It moves the internal organs around and enhances
respiration. (I don't know about you, but I still have a difficult time with
this concept of my internal organs jogging! I can just picture my liver
smacking into my gallbladder while saying, " Sorry, buddy, didn't mean to
push you aside.") By the way, it's no fun thinking about my external organs
jogging either!

And don't forget along with laughter goes TEARS. Tears have a language all
their own, a tongue that needs no interpreter. A few years ago I worked on
the TWA Flight 800 air disaster. Despite all the different cultures and
languages spoken by the families - tears needed no translator. There is a
bond between grieving people that is like no other. Tears are not a luxury -
they are a necessity. Sobbing is an outlet for the deep, strong emotions
that accompany the death of a loved one. It is helpful to cry - to release
all the pent up emotions. Cry alone or with others - but take time to cry.

Grief has been likened to a raw open wound. With great care it will
eventually heal, but there will always be a scar. Life will never be the
same, but eventually you too will heal. The good days will outnumber the bad
and you will smile and laugh again.

Remember, Yesterday is the past. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift -
that's why it's called THE PRESENT.

I regret that I cannot answer your questions personally, but I will try to
address those topics which you may inquire about in future updates. So send
your inquiries to Please mark your e-mail "experts" on the
subject line.