Is Grief a Guest in Your House this Holiday Season?

I remember walking home a few years ago after experiencing a loss. Grief felt like a shadow looming behind, trying to catch me. I was doing my best to beat it, walking faster and faster. Afraid of the grief, its pain, sadness and despair, I practically ran home. Once inside I went to my favorite contemplative spot in our house, our master bedroom couch with the view of a mountain range. I sat down, finally allowed the grief to join me and cried. I sank into the sadness and experienced its intensity.  Grief sat with me for a while and then gradually moved on. Not that the grief left forever, but it loosened its grip for the moment. My body knew what I needed to do; I just needed to trust it. I needed to allow grief to be my guest.​​​​​​​

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Learn to Let Go

One way I help people coping with the loss of a loved one is to facilitate grief education and support groups. During one meeting, I invite participants to write a letter to their lost loved one. At a future meeting, participants read their letters aloud, or allow others to read the letters for them if it is too difficult.​​​​​​​

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Time for Family, Time for Talk

I recently met with a group of residents at a local retirement community. We discussed the importance of “community” in helping them adjust to changes, including new living arrangements, health problems, deaths of friends and family, aspects of aging, etc.

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Helping Hands

As we near the end of August, changes are getting ready to happen.  Kids will go to school, families will have different schedules and routines, Penn State students will return to Happy Valley and fall sports will begin.  Whether you look forward to these changes or not, each of them involves some kind of loss, right? For one, kids, families, Penn State students and athletes all lose their summer free time.  These changes also include the beginning of something new, a birth - a new school year, a new routine, a new living space, a new season.

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Live, Love, Learn, and Leave a Legacy

A few months ago I facilitated a group discussion about legacies – what they are and what we hope they will be. One woman questioned the topic and wondered why we were bothering to think about what we would leave behind after we die. Her thoughts were centered around how she could make a difference in the world today while she was still here. Interestingly, it is by paying attention to how we live our lives today that we leave a memorable legacy.

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Allow Grief, Receive Support

An expression that has recently gained popularity is the “ugly cry” and its cousin, the “ugly cry face.” It refers to crying accompanied by a mouth open in a grimace, widened lips, a clenched brow, quivering chin, bodily heaving, awkward noises, puffy eyes and a red nose. I’ve sometimes wondered if part of the cause of this ugly cry is fighting the underlying emotions. What would that cry look like if we simply welcomed the grief and sadness? You’ve seen people who tear up, and then tender drops roll down their cheeks all while the rest of their face remains peaceful. Could it be that these people allow the emotions?​​​​​​​

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