Category Archives: Grief

Gods, Surgery, What to say

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

How many Gods from how many cultures are acceptable? I think Celtic, Norse with a sprinkling of Greek? That’s what I am going for.

LIFE:

Had sinus surgery so lots of leaking blood from the nose and throat, wonderful. It is amazing how much you use your nose and sinuses and how every little part can hurt for a while. I guess with over 32 sinuses, extract two and the others all complain. Even my teeth ached for a while.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com
sorry-for-your-loss

The idea behind the statement…

34. Educate people on what to say. “I’m sorry for your loss.” or “I’m sorry.” are fine. All you have to say in return is “Thank you.” Or just nod. That’s all you have to do.

Then just move on. Nothing to see here, folks. But I’ll notice if you ignore me. People do not know what to say, so they either gush all over you or ignore you. Neither is appropriate. Do the polite thing and maybe if someone knows you well, they can ask from time to time, “How are you doing?

Most people want to be treated normally and yet if given the opportunity; they would like to talk about it a little with people they trust. If you are a friend or close associate of someone with a loss, be prepared to get upset at what a grieving person may want to share. We are all so ignorant about grief and loss. It is very, very sad. However, it is a learning opportunity, unfortunately, for all of us.

 

Lots of characters; New stuff,bad finger; Get grief support

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

After a while all the characters blur and sometimes I have to look up the name. Does this mean I am quite a distance in my book? I hope so.

LIFE:

Got a new front door, a new patio door, a new furnace. Had a garage sale, hurt my little finger moving concrete sidewalk blocks so the nail is all black and got sinus surgery. Busy, busy, that’s for sure.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

find-people-to-support-you

  1. Develop and use a Grief Support Group. You are part of a club you never wanted to join, but the members can help each other.

It took me a year to go to a grief support group. It was a very rough year. I had a cousin to talk to and a few others, but I was spiraling out of control. No one really understood what I was going through since most had not lost a child. There is nothing to compare to a group of people going through the same thing. We understood each other and it was a relief to know I could talk about my loss and not be so alone.

Sometimes you can find a few supportive people or sometimes you need a group. Do what you can to find someone somewhere who can support you. It is very important. I went to Canadian Mental Health for support when Shannon was sick, which was invaluable to understand her depression and how to hold my own so I didn’t go down with her. I needed to define boundaries, because her issues tended to overshadow my life completely. I took courses to understand her depression and courses to understand suicide. I knew she would likely kill herself because she just didn’t want to be here, so I waited a year after her first attempt and tried everything I could think of to help her. It didn’t work and she swallowed everything she could find and was gone.

Afterwards, I went from the support group for families dealing with mental illness to those who had lost a loved one from suicide. That was good, but not quite right for me. The best one I found, however, was through Rockyview Hospital and was for parents who had lost a child. That was wonderfully helpful for me, listening to what other parents were going through and sharing my loss. We helped each other immensely, I believe.

I did try a counsellor at first, but one who was not trained in grief specifically. There are lots of counselling people out there, who are wonderful, but grief is very specific and you need someone trained in that, not just a regular counsellor. If you decide to go the counselling route, make sure you find someone trained in grief.

 

Odin, Funerals, Grief and people’s comments

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

Did you know Odin has a raven on each shoulder and Thor is just a pretty boy bully?

LIFE:

Went to a funeral this week for a friend who lost a son. Made me miss my girl a lot.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…
You want them here, not “in a better place”
shannon-ashes
Shannon holding Josh who is now 8 yrs old

32. You won’t be able to hear all of this (in the book) at first and some of it will make you mad. If that happens, put the book aside. Later it may be helpful. Read it over again. You’ll be surprised at what you missed.

People mean the best, but sometimes what they say is not what you want to hear.  You’re just hurting too much. “They’re in a better place, think of the good times.” That makes you just want to smack someone. As far as you are concerned, you want them here, not in a better place and the times right now are anything but good. All that will come eventually you hope, but initially, people can say the stupidest things to you.

Also you may have a bit of a rage problem. You have been royally ripped off. Life is not fair. Where is your person? Who took them away? Raw emotion spews forth almost uncontrolled and it can be scary both for you and for others. Be patient with yourself and try not to take it out on well-intentioned idiots. I saved a lot of that for annoying phone calls and bad service. They deserved it.

Writing compulsion, Clever Catholics, Share Grief

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

I think I write for what needs to come out, like a compulsion, so if it never sells, so be it.

LIFE:

I went to a funeral this week. The Catholic Deacon had people stand for a prayer, sit, stand for a song, sit and also folks repeated things from time to time when he spoke. With my bad leg, I found it irritating. Why were they doing that I wondered? Then it occurred to me. The Catholics are clever. Other churches leave the congregation alone and they nap. In the Catholic Church people stand and sit several times and speak so that  they can’t fall asleep. Seem unfair somehow. Isn’t Sunday Service where some people get a much needed rest? Not in a Catholic service, they’re too smart for us.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

  1. Check in regularly with a trusted sympathetic friend, minister, professional or someone else going through grief. Tell them how you are feeling and listen to what they have to say. If it is a counselling person, you need a grief counsellor, not a regular counsellor. Grief is a specialty and not every professional knows about it.

Grief is a very big deal and you need to talk to someone. I talked to my cousin the first year who was a trained grief counsellor and that was very helpful. Then after a year, when I could speak her name without instant tears, I went to a few grief support groups. The first one was for people who lost a loved one, but until I found the group that dealt with parents who had lost a child, I didn’t feel quite right.

Initially, I had talked to a counsellor, who lost a husband, but was not trained in grief and the only good advice I received was to try not to get stuck in any one of the stages of grief for too long. Later I came across someone who was really stuck in anger and had been for over a year and I realized what getting stuck somewhere can do to a person. The woman who had lost a son was still right at the beginning, angry at those who took her son’s life and angry at those who did nothing. She was just as angry at the end of a year as she had been at the beginning. She was eating herself alive and you could just see the destructive power the anger had over her. It was not good.

The best people were my own peer group. When I talked to others who had lost children themselves, I felt a kinship and a comfort. I would talk about my situation and they would talk about theirs. We could sympathize and understand each other. That was very healing for me. I kept in contact for a few years and that was a real blessing to me. We really understood each other. It helped a lot.

Beautiful white bush roses, Hyde Park, LondonBeautiful white bush roses, Hyde Park, London

Trees, Lemonade vs Coke, Grief takes time

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

Right now I am working on kinds of trees. The land I imagine is full of them, so there must be lots of variety and some of them are sentient…

LIFE:

My mother loves those huge hot dogs from Costco ($1.50 includes a drink –a best deal in town). So I got her one and a lemonade. It comes in a Pepsi paper cup. So she says, Coke? I said lemonade. She doesn’t always hear well.

I watched her prepare her hot dog. It is quite the process. First she slices the long hot dog lengthwise. Then she puts it in the bun and cuts it in half. Then she dresses it, onion, mustard, relish and finally ketchup on the side. Then she eats that half, usually with a knife and fork (I know, hilarious). Once that is done she starts on the other half. It takes her over ½ hour to eat the thing, but she enjoys it.

I said, How do you like the lemonade? It was half done. Lemonade? I thought it was Coke? Coke? I said and started to laugh. How do you mistake lemonade for Coke? Made me and her laugh and laugh. Who needs TV when you have mom.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

Grief time

30. Grief takes its own time. Don’t have expectations of yourself. You can’t predict how you will be or for how long. Others should not expect this of you either.

I always thought, ok, maybe six months, maybe a year. Not. I am in year six now and yesterday I had a bad moment, thinking of Shannon and all that was lost. Very sad. I am not as torn up about it, nor for as long, but I don’t think those feelings will ever go away. Time mutes them perhaps, but loss is a permanent sorrow and grief lasts a lifetime.

People have expectations based on I don’t know what. TV? We are so poorly prepared for death in this culture. It’s ridiculous. It is such an individual experience that there are no real hard and fast guidelines. First numbness or denial, then rage and other out of control emotions, sickness, depression, resignation and I don’t think there is ever acceptance. That is sort of the range of things, but the order, length of time in each, and which will last for a long time – well, that’s up to your reaction and you can’t plan a reaction. So be kind and try not to get stuck too long in any one stage. Don’t have expectations of yourself and let others know that you are not here to live up to their expectations either. It will take its own time.

 

Too much stuff; Doggie Daycare; Grief & Marriages

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

Figuring out the final conflict when all this stuff comes to me about another character. Could it be another book?

LIFE:

My little dog needs a daycare for her once  a week socialization with other pooches and to meet new people. I need somewhere closer than the one I use now, though the trainer is great. This one has rest time where staff sit on the floor with dogs who are resting on blankets – soft music, aromatherapy. Do they have a place like this for people? Sign me up.

Rosie & Gus, playing as pups. A dog’s gotta play.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

29. Your spouse may be grieving in their own say, quite differently from you. Allow them the benefit of the doubt.

Many marriages break up, especially after the death of a child. Two people behaving in irrational ways because of grief can tear each other apart. You need to let each other be and be gentle. Do not have expectations of them that may be unrealistic for them.

Men tend to spend more time numb. To wives it can appear uncaring. The wife is a puddle of emotion, crying, etc. and the husband is standing there stoic. The tears may even frighten him and he walks away. The numbness looks like no reaction at all, as though he doesn’t care. Or the roles may switch. One woman told me it took her five years to react to the loss of her son and then it hit as though the loss happened yesterday. The husband had almost completed his process while the wife was at the very beginning. Imagine living in the same house without a lot of understanding of what the other is going through. Comfort, talk and then leave the person alone without you criticizing or condemning or disapproving. It’s not your process maybe, but it is theirs.

People can be so different in their approach to grief. They are often surprised themselves at their behaviors, but that’s grief. So different. Grieve in your own way and please allow the person to grieve in theirs – there is no right and wrong and no one way to do it.

 

Book: Spelling, Life: Holes and humps, Grief: flowers

BOOK:

Remembering the names of characters in a fantasy is quite something. With all those imaginary names, spelling consistently can be a challenge, was that one e or two, y or i?

LIFE: Holes and Humps

Driving today was a challenge – dodging holes the size of babies and going up and down like a rollercoaster from all the frost heaves. We had a melt so all the deep potholes were deceiving. It pays to drive away from the edges, but sometimes hard to do.

My car is white with salt. Who thought salt on the roads was a good idea?

Driving in Calgary is exciting this time of year!

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

18. Plant bulbs from the flowers you were given.

I got a lot of tulips and daffodils from my daughter Shannon’s funeral in January and took all the flowers home. They filled the house. I love flowers. After they were finished, I saved the bulbs and planted them in the spring.

Now each year when spring comes, I see them blooming. It reminds me that even though winter is the small death, spring brings life again with it and reminds me of Shannon. Nothing nicer than those early spring blooms that promise summer is to come.

Daffodil that bloomed in December one year
Daffodil that bloomed in December one year  

Book, Life – Hunger Games Misname, Grief – Cry

BOOK:

The book signing on Nov. 9 at Chapters Crowfoot was slow. It was a horrible snowy day, but the other authors there were a pleasure to be with. I learned a lot from them and how they promote and sell their books, so the experience was valuable in the end.

LIFE:  Hunger Games Misname

Mom is still having a hard time adjusting to losing more words, but the ones she creates are very funny.

We were watching the first two Hunger Games so that we will remember where the story is when the third Hunger Games movie comes out Nov 21. Mom got caught up in the action and said “Mistress, watch out!” She meant Katniss of course. My sister and I had to choke back the laughter as we exchanged looks and my sister even had to drink to cover up her guffaws. That action hero is nobody’s mistress, that’s for sure.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief,

www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

15. Crying is good for you. Likely you’re going to do lots for a long time.

The minute the police told me Shannon was dead in her apartment (I wouldn’t go in); my eyes developed a life of their own. The tears just streamed down and didn’t stop for quite a while. It was like the waterworks were entirely out of my control. I had to close bank accounts, tell utility companies she was gone and discontinue the service and all of that with tears streaming. I realized a crying woman gets excellent service, just one of those odd things I noticed. My head had such pressure in it I had to get acupuncture to make the sinuses drain properly. I really cried up a storm and I didn’t care much that I did. At work I had to rein it in, but the minute I was in the parking lot on my way home, down came the tears. I had a lot to cry about apparently, so I did.

I cried pretty much regularly for the first two years, heavier the first, less the second. Year three, now and again and now that I am in year five, just sometimes. I was never a crier before and had difficulty crying when I needed to. No problem now. I cry at sad movies, when someone is in distress, when I think of what I have lost and just from time to time when I feel sad. Much healthier now. That dry awful feeling I used to get when I needed to cry and couldn’t is gone. I can cry and feel better afterwards, which is the purpose of crying I think – release.

So get used to it and let it go or you will back up and back up until you find the dam breaking when you don’t want it to. You don’t have to hold back the tears, they want to get out. You need to express your grief.

BOOKS, LIFE, GRIEF

BOOKS:   I’m looking for a mean God, from Norse, or Olympian Greece, or Celtic history who would want to harm people. Someone nasty and mean who holds a grudge. Any ideas?

LIFE:
Are people crazy?  I was driving on 12 Ave. and stopped for the light at 14 St. SW, when an elderly woman with an equally elderly woman passenger, turned in the wrong way on the one way street. She was now facing traffic in the far lane.  I honked and waved at her.  She was nonplussed.  As she passed me going the wrong way, I  turned and looked behind me to see what she was doing and saw her swing across three lanes and turn herself in the right direction before the light changed.  Two grandmas almost didn’t make it home.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.kathybriantbooks.com

4. You can’t hide from grief – that does not good at all. You need to go through it so you can eventually start to heal. Otherwise, there you are 10 years later, still dealing with a crippling grief that will not go away. It is normal to avoid pain. I think that is what the numbness is when you first hear. Your mind and body are trying to give you a little anesthetic, a little numbness or blankness so you have a little time to adjust.

My mother said “It’s time to stop crying, we’ve cried enough.” This was after one day, so for some people all they want to do is get away. Unfortunately, there is no getting away, and if you deny and deny for too long, it waits for you and it will wait years. One woman said she didn’t start grieving until five years after her son was killed. Her life was very busy and she had other children, so it wasn’t until they all reached an age that she could look at what had happened. She had a very bad time for a while, as is normal.

You don’t want to be one of those people with unexplained ulcers, or a heart condition, or sleep disturbances that become permanent. Deal with it, go through it and you will come out the other side eventually.

You have to stare the monster in the face. That’s the only way you can deal with what has happened. That is the only way you can process your grief and eventually find a place to put it. It never leaves you, but just becomes dulled over time and your life can move on.

Books, Writing, Grief and and Event

BOOKS

Help a Writer

What’s a good name for a friendly giant? How about a scary creature that tries to hurt people. What would it look like? In other words what scares the crap out of you?

Writing to a Deadline is Hard

I am sweating away, trying to get 3 chapters of a fantasy ready to send to a publisher as per his request and I am finding characters are so much trouble to create and name. Lucky I found decent names for my children; it could have been bad…

 GRIEF

106 Ways to Deal with Grief: Background – What is the story behind the points I put in the book. www.KathyBriantBooks.com

2. Don’t put the pictures away. Bring them out.  

Sometimes it’s too painful to look at the pictures and things from the person who died. People clear the decks, removing any reminder they might have of the person who died. They clean out closets and put pictures away in drawers so they don’t have to look at them. Ok, for a first response that’s fine if you need to do that. But after a while, I think you will want those pictures back and they will help in the healing process.

I think it is important to have a reminder of the person close by. Some people even create a little altar with the person’s picture and some of the things they liked or things that remind us of them. I think pictures are important.

The first thing I did within a week or two of her passing was find a good picture of Shannon and put it in a frame someone gave her for Christmas, an especially nice one. It was of her just before she got sick with the depression that she never came out of, so in her mid 20’s. It’s even a picture she took of herself to use in a web site she was creating at work, so it is how she would have wanted to be remembered. It’s the same picture I used at her funeral since she was cremated, the one people said, did you see that picture come alive? I did. So it was special. I also used that picture in her art shows I finally managed to have, along with some of her art so people could see the person that created all that fine art

For the first year or so, each month I would put it on a table with a candle burning to commemorate the day of the month she died and that made me feel better. I was never a ritual person, but that candle before her picture meant a lot to me.

Now the picture is within viewing in the living room and I often talk to her. I’ll tell her how much I still miss her (after five years) and tell her little things about the day she would have found interesting. So keep a picture near for comfort. It’s a good thing.

Shannon Morgan

ShannonMorganArt.com

EVENT

106 Ways to Deal with Grief

Kathy will be selling her book along with many other authors also selling books at:

MEET YOUR LOCAL AUTHORS BOOK FAIR AND SALE

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4TH, 2014,            10 – 4pm

PARKDALE COMMUNITY CENTRE,        3512-5th Ave. NW.