Friday, December 21, 2012

Healing for the Holidays: Part 4 – A Lament for Your Loss

Does My Holiday Loss Count?

I've received a batch of emails in response to this series. One theme is: “Does my holiday grief count?” One person asked, “I haven’t lost a loved one, but because of a divorce, half the holidays I don’t even see my children. Is it still okay to grieve over that?” Another friend asked, “My adult kids live in Europe and I rarely see them for the holidays. Is that a reason to grieve?”

In writing God’s Healing for Life’s Losses (, I wanted to communicate that every loss, every separation is a mini-casket experience. Each loss is a reminder of the ultimate loss of death. That is not to say that every loss is of the same magnitude. It is simply to recognize the reality that all loss hurts because every loss is a separation, a tearing away of what was meant to be together.

Yes, your loss counts. Most importantly, your loss counts to God. That’s why He invites you, like He did the saints of old, to lament your loss. Today, let’s ponder six practical principles of lamenting holiday loss—whatever shape or size your loss takes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Healing for the Holidays: Part 3 – Q&A About Holiday Honesty

I appreciate friendships that are secure enough for “push-back.” Someone who lovingly says, “Bob, I get what you’re saying, but what about...?” Today, I want to give voice to four possible “push-backs” on Part Two: Give Sorrow Words. Consider these as Q/A about just how honest should we be around the holidays.

Push-Back # 1: “But Doesn't Everyone Handle Grief Differently?”

Absolutely. Everyone handles grief differently. There’s no one typical response to grief, and there’s no one universally “correct” path toward healing for the holidays. Healing is a journey— a personal journey with God and we all take unique twists and turns on our journey.

Your timing will be different from mine. Your way will be different from your relatives. We can’t force anyone else, or even ourselves, onto a certain timetable or a one-size-fits-all plan.

That said, good research and caring engagement with people consistently shows that “denial” is a very common initial response to grief. And initially, it can even be a grace of God that allows our minds and bodies to slow down long enough to survive the horrors of our loss.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Healing for the Holidays: Part 2 – Give Sorrow Words

C. S. Lewis famously wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Loss always hurts, and holidays are like a megaphone magnifying that pain. Or, for our generation, like the volume control on your IPod—holidays can intensify and heighten the pain.

In Part One, we saw Jesus and Paul giving us permission to grieve. Now we ask, “But what do I do with my hurt during the holidays?” Shakespeare said, “Give sorrow words.” God’s Word models that principle—we need to move from denial to candid honesty about the hurt that holiday memories can bring.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Dreams | 12 Ways of Christmas for the Grieving

Last night, I dreamed that God resurrected my beautiful son, Darnell. But morning renewed my mourning for him: Christmas trees, snow globes, and music greeted my grieving heart. Relate?

Christmas arrives like a pretty package full of grief triggers: Empty chairs, missing faces, and silent voices seem to haunt the holidays.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Healing for the Holidays: Part 1 – A Promise

Holidays... They’re “supposed” to make us think of words like thankful, merry, and happy. We’re “supposed” to associate holidays with a phrase like “Home for the Holidays!”

But... what if a loved one is not coming home this holiday season? What if death, divorce, or distance causes us to associate the holidays with words and feelings like depression, anxiety, and stress?

Holidays can create fresh memories of our loss and a fresh experience of pain and grief. The thought of facing another holiday season causes some people to wish they could sleep from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until January 2. Loss is always hard, and at the holidays it can seem crushing. The thought of being in a festive mood for two months is just too much to bear when our heart is breaking.

Monday, November 26, 2012

GRIEF IN CHILDREN | Help The Kids Find Their Way

 "As great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope."
-- Ursula K. LeGuin 

Grief in children

So where are the kids? Probably alone in their bedrooms, crying. We have given you lots of resources here in our website to help you cope with grief... so now we turn our attention to the children. 

Have you helped them deal with the tragedy?

Kids are often the "forgotten mourners" in a household stricken by a tragic death. Why? Here are a few possible reasons: 
  1. Their needs are honestly overlooked in the emotional turmoil.
  2. Adults think that by not confronting the issue head-on, they somehow shield children from the pain (does not work).
  3. Many adults think children don't understand death, and therefore aren't affected deeply by it. They don't know how to deal with it, so they just leave the kids alone. 
  4. A little effort, sensitivity and honesty on your part will go a long way towards drawing your children out, and helping them to process their own grief in a healthy and successful way. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Surviving The Holidays | Helping Grieving Children Through the Holidays

Adults play an important role in helping children grieve, especially over the holidays when new emotions and memories can hit with full force. Children often have trouble expressing their emotions, and when they see their parents hurting, they naturally want to protect their parents, so the children may not be open about their own grief. Close family friends and even other relatives can step in and assist the parent in helping the children grieve. The following are tips that a parent or another adult can use to help grieving children through the holidays.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Building Memories at Christmas | After the Death of Your Loved One

  1. Buy a small, live tree to place in the yard after Christmas. The tree will be there for years to come and may be decorated with lights each year.
  2. Candles help bring warmth into a home at Christmastime. The light is a symbol of Jesus’ birth. Luminaries in the yard bring a sense of peace, particularly on Christmas Eve. Children can help prepare and set them out.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Coping with Loss and Grief During Seasons of Celebration

1. Prioritizing and planning:

Make a list of what you would like to accomplish, do or not do during the holidays. Sit down with your family, and allow each person to discuss what would be helpful to him or her. Each person needs to be specific with his or her preferences and desires. Allow everyone plenty of leeway as each one will be dealing with different emotions. Be creative; give yourself and your family members permission to do something out of the ordinary when it comes to family celebrations or traditions. Regarding holiday tasks and responsibilities that you usually take care of, ask yourself, “Is this something someone else can do?” (This planning activity can include friends.)

2. Accept your limitations:

Grief consumes your energy no matter what the season. Holidays place additional demands on time and emotions. Expect fluctuations in your mood and perspective. Lower your expectations to accommodate your current needs. Flexibility is the key word during this time. Your needs will change, so keep loved ones, friends and church family aware of what you’re thinking and feeling.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Am I a Co-Victim?

A co-victim is a term used synonymously with the word survivor. A co-victim is anyone who has been impacted by the death of a homicide. The term is usually used to describe immediate family, significant others and close personal friends. To an extent, teachers, co-workers, and other professionals who had dealing with the deceased may be considered co-victims.

Co-Victim Grief

The Homicide Differential: Elements Unique to the Homicide of a Loved One 
That Negatively Impact Co-victims
In order to understand the breadth and depth of homicide, it is necessary to recognize that death by homicide differs from other types of death due to a number of specific reasons and cultural attitudes toward death and spirituality influence societal perceptions of homicide. Just as there are unique physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial components to every sudden death, there are spiritual ramifications as well. Those who have never thought much about God before will often do so after a loved one has died under traumatic circumstances. Persons of faith who assume that what happens to them is God's will are forced to reshape their faith positions to incorporate the fact that bad things do indeed happen to good people (Lord 1996).

We have been conditioned throughout the ages to accept that each life is destined for the inevitability of death, which is as natural and predictable as birth. The normal repetitive circumstances of death are disease and old age. When death is due to the unnatural circumstance of homicide, it is sudden and without forewarning. It is now widely accepted that there are specific elements associated with homicidal deaths that distinguish the impact upon the surviving family members from other forms of dying. They include:

The intent to harm. One of the most distinguishing factors between homicidal death and other forms of dying is the intent of the murderer to harm the victim. Co-victims must deal with the anger, rage, and violence that has been inflicted upon someone they love.

Stigmatization. Because society sometimes places blame on murdered victims for their own death which translates into blame on the victim's family when it is believed that they should have controlled the behavior that led to the death, "co-victims of homicide often feel abandoned, ashamed, powerless, and vulnerable" (Redmond 1989).

Media and public view. Regardless of public sympathies surrounding homicidal deaths, they almost never remain private. Co-victims are quickly thrust into public view and become fair game for public consumption. While some journalists exercise consideration and objectivity in their reporting of homicidal events, the degree of intrusion into the lives of co-victims of homicide constitutes a major homicide differential.

Criminal or juvenile justice system. Unlike family members of individuals who die of natural deaths, co-victims of homicide are the most likely population of victims to be thrust into a complex system of legal players and jargon. Co-victims must quickly become acquainted with a world of crime scenes, evidence, and autopsies. Co-victims of homicide have much to learn about the investigative, prosecutorial, and judiciary branches of the criminal justice system in a very short time. They are often expected to quickly comprehend a system that may in some instances be insensitive and specifically designed to protect the rights of the accused (with little regard for the victim). In addition, co-victims may encounter many cognitive and environmental stimuli that remind them of the crime such as contact with the defendant and/or reviewing the traumatic details of the crime in the courtroom. This experience often results in the kind of avoidance behavior that leads co-victims to cancel or not show up for appointments with criminal justice system officers or victim advocates.

Bereavement. As early as 1983, E. K. Rynearson, M.D., determined that bereavement after homicide is so prevalent that it deserved clinical attention. His clinical studies involving the family members of murder victims revealed that all of his subjects had previously experienced bereavement following the natural death of a relative; and the psychological processing of homicide was accompanied by cognitive reactions that differed from previously experienced forms of bereavement. Rynearson's research forms the basis for the shift from viewing the co-victims' grief issues separate and apart from the impact of trauma associated with the death of a family member. Traumatic grief over homicidal death distinctly differs from other forms of grief.

Reprinted from 1999 National Victim Assistance Academy Text, Chapter 11: Homicide, authors: Carroll Ann Ellis and Janice Lord, editors: Grace Coleman, Mario Gaboury, Morna Murray, and Anne Seymour

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Healing Through Forgiveness

To err is human; to forgive, divine.
-Alexander Pope

Scientific research has indicated that forgiving past wrongs can be helpful for a variety of health problems, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain. When we focus on forgiving, our blood pressure drops and our heart rate slows down. Our mood improves. Forgiveness can alter the state of our health.

What follows is a series of steps designed to help you forgive a past wrong. Follow each step, one at a time, and take a moment to write down your answers to each question. You need not share your answers with others. This process should be based on what feels best for you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Handling Grief During The Holidays

By Kirsten Randall Belzer, LCSW, CHT

 Ways to Cope With Grief Individually at the Holidays
 Ways for Families to Cope With Grief Together at the Holidays
 How Social Workers Can Help Individuals and Families Handle Grief at the Holidays


The holiday season can be a particularly painful time for people after the death of a loved one or friend. The expectation that we feel joyous during the holidays can exacerbate the hurt of the loss.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Good Grief" Group Session w/Mothers Of Murdered Children & Ron Scott


For those MOTHERS who have been touched by the death of a child or those who knows someone who has experienced grief, please take a few hours to attend Mothers Of Murdered Children's GOOD GRIEF Group Sessions. 

Our guest speaker will include: Detroit's Coalition Against Police Brutality's own Ron Scott. 
At this weeks meeting we will be discussing "Self-Advocacy", learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, learning how to get information so that you can understand things that are of interest to you, finding out who will support you in your journey, knowing your rights and responsibilities, problem solving, listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship, and learning about self-determination. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Murdered Parents, Mourning Children & "A Never Forgotten Christmas" 2012

Mothers Of Murdered Children is pleased to announce the support of fellow humanitarians who will aid in facilitating this event for the often forgotten children of murder victims. There is still time to nominate, donate or volunteer and join our efforts to provide a Christmas party for the children who lost their parents to homicide and murder.

Our gratitude to the community for enabling such a wonderful opportunity to these forgotten children. The parents of these children are gone for Christmas. We encourage politicians, faith leaders, business entities, community leaders and individuals to donate for this program. Let's help these children to grow up with hope, love, and with a program that teaches them that our community CARES. This program benefits children from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds who have lost their parents to homicide in the Metro-Detroit area.

Do you know of a child who has lost a parent? Or a grandparent who has taken on the role of acting parent due to the homicide or murder? Please, PLEASE nominate them to be selected for our Never Forgotten Christmas adopt-a-family program.

DEADLINE TO NOMINATE A CHILD OR FAMILY IS NOVEMBER 30th, 2012 but we will be accepting donations up until the evening of the reception. If you wish to donate for this program, please visit our "ADOPT-A-FAMILY" page and make your donation through PAYPAL. If you wish to arrange a large donation of toys please contact M.O.M.C at (313) 473-9MOM. If you do not have time shopping for toys, our dedicated volunteers would gladly do the shopping for you.! WE NEED TOYS, COATS, CLOTHING, FOOD SHOES AND GIFT CARDS for children ages 3 month old -17 year old. Invited donors will be able to meet the family of the children, have dinner with them and give their adopted families their Christmas present. The date, time, and location of the party will be provided to invited donors. This is a private event by invitation only. Thanks in advance for your donations, kindness and generosity.

Click NOMINATE to let us know of a deserving child and/or family


Check our Mothers Of Murdered Children page to inquire about donations, adoptions and other information about "A Never Forgotten Christmas!"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mother And Volunteer Seeks Answers And Justice

Mothers Of Murdered Children would not only like to welcome new mother Lashonna King, but we'd also like to help her with her journey to justice and her transition to "Good Grief". Please watch the following story and if you have any information on what happened to Ryan King, please SPEAK-UP!

  Fox 2 News Headlines

Posted: Oct 20, 2012 11:40 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 20, 2012 11:45 PM EDT
By Ron Savage, FOX 2 News - email

DETROIT, Mich. (WJBK) - Two little girls lost their dad in a cold blooded shooting. The family makes a plea to find the killer. It's Fox 2 and CrimeStoppers Michigan's Most Wanted.

Ryan King, 22, the father of two small girls, was a business management student at Macomb Community College. On Friday, Aug. 17, he was gunned down at a residence on the 12000 block of Dresden near Nashville and Six Mile in Detroit. Ryan King leaves behind two daughters, a 7-month-old and a 3-year-old. He also leave a fiance and his mother is speaking out to find her son's killer.

If you have information about this or any other unsolved Michigan crime, call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-SPEAKUP (1-800-773-2587). There's a cash reward and you can remain anonymous.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Supporting Children and Teens After a Homicide or a Murder

One of the most difficult types of death to cope with is murder. The death is completely sudden and leaves family, friends and communities shattered feeling helpless and not knowing what to do. Sometimes the person is missing for a time and in this situation often people have two death dates that they remember. The first one is the date the person was found missing and the second when the body was discovered.

Normal reactions are anger, fear, confusion and shock. It is one of the hardest things for a family to cope with. If you have suffered this loss I am so very sorry that you are having to go through with this. Many things that are common for families who have to deal with this tragedy are a feeling of not being safe. Many wonder what it was like for their loved one to have been murdered. Did they know they were going to die? What was he thinking about in those last moments? It is comforting to know that most likely it all happened so fast that the person had no time to think that she would die.

It is normal to worry about if the person was in pain. Many survivors of accidents talk about not feeling anything as their body was in shock initially. Many family members and friends can't get the images of the violence out of their heads, whether or not they saw it happen. Many talk about visualizing the act step by step in their head like a horror movie. Some dream about such images. However usually what we imagine is often far worse. Some feel guilty that they should have been able to save the person from death. If only you had known. You think if only you hadn't gone to work that day or out to dinner. Remember that no one can anticipate such a tragedy. Many wait for the murderer to get caught and brought to trial. Pass on any information you have to the police.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"M.O.M.C. Digest" | A Sneak Preview!

JUST RELEASED - The first installment of Mothers Of Murdered Children (MOMC)'s newly created newsletter "M.O.M.C. Digest" has been issued TODAY! Many of our friends, mothers and supporters have already received their copy be sure you're getting yours! Send us your email address or subscribe to our mailing list. DON'T DELAY., GET YOUR COPY TODAY, here's what it looks like:

M.O.M.C. Digest
                                                                       Volume: 1 Issue: 1

Mothers Of Murdered Children
(AP Clark)
A Non-Profit Organization

You are receiving this email because you signed up for our mailing list.
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M.O.M.C. Digest

This is a mutual self-help group, not a therapy group. Hopefully, this group will provide emotional, psychological, and moral support for its members.

"A Lil Lovin' From The M.O.M.C. Oven!

We're turning the cake walking experience into an affordable way to show your support where every body's a winner! Join us every Friday from 12:30p to 5:30pm as we sell home baked goods to our supporters and community. We encourage mothers and supporters to donated items to be sold, all proceeds will go to benefit the goals and mission of Mothers Of Murdered children,

Our first sale will feature items such as pies for $2.50, cakes for $2.00, cookies for 4.50 or 5 for $2.00, brownies for $1.50 and SO much more!!! Be sure to stop by during your lunch break or just before dinner and we've got you covered for dessert!

"A Lil Lovin' From The M.O.M.C. Oven!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

"A Never Forgotten Christmas!"

HELLO Out There! Do you know of a child who has lost a parent? Or a grandparent who has taken on the role of acting parent due to the homicide or murder? Please, PLEASE nominate them to be selected for our Never Forgotten Christmas adopt-a-family program. This program benefits children from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds who have lost their parents to homicide in the Metro-Detroit area. DEADLINE TO NOMINATE A CHILD OR FAMILY IS NOVEMBER 30th, 2012 but we will be accepting donations up until the evening of the reception. If you wish to donate for this program, please visit our "ADOPT-A-FAMILY" page and make your donation through PAYPAL. If you wish to arrange a large donation of toys please contact M.O.M.C at (313) 473-9MOM. If you do not have time shopping for toys, our dedicated volunteers would gladly do the shopping for you.!

Check out "A NEVER Forgotten Christmas!"

Saturday, September 8, 2012

'You’re Still Going to Grief Support?'

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Loss Of A Child | Hope For Grieving Parents

Parents Grief Book

New book for parents that have lost a child.  Marilyn Rauth, author of Living, Loving and Losing a Son lost her son Robb due to sudden heart complications.  "His death was completely unexpected.  He was only 37 and healthy (so we thought).  When I received the call from my daughter in law that he had passed, I felt like I had instantly descended into Hell.  The pain was unimaginable and unbelievably cruel.  How could it really be that he would pass before me?  How could it be that I would have to bury him and say goodbye to my first born precious boy?"

"I felt like a zombie for a long time, wandering around aimlessly and not caring or thinking that I could or would endue the tragedy.  But endue I did, and badly though."

Marilyn's story is one of hope for other parents that have suffered the loss of their child.  She writes about how she and Robb grew up together, how they shared their lives together and how she went through his death and the eventually healing and acceptance of it.  It's a mothers memoir and it is her hope that it will ease the pain of other parents that have or are going through the same loss.    Published in 2009.  100% money back guarantee.  Paperback.

Here's How To Get Your Copy

Copies are currently in stock and will be shipped immediately.

$15 plus S & H


Prefer Mail Order?

Make sure to include your shipping address and send check for $20 to:

Jeff Rauth
873 E 14 Mile Rd
Birmingham, MI 48009
Customer Service Questions
248 990-7450
More information on this grief book can be found here. 


Please submit your review to
Testimonials for Living, Loving and Losing a Son
Sally FlynnA wonderful book full of warmth, love and loss - a perfect title. The author has had such a full and eventful life with all the ups and downs we all share, but shattered in her 50's by the untimely death of her son. Her recovery from this loss and ultimate success in repairing the damage such a tragedy often inflicts on a marriage were so interesting and uplifting to me. This was a very special book with many tears and many laughs. My husband enjoyed it as much as I did. I highly recommend it.

Jim Highland
“Living, Loving, and Losing a Son" is written in a beautifully clear style that makes reading it an effortless pleasure. The writing falls away so that the story tells itself as if it were a movie. This writing style makes the book easy to read, but more importantly allows the power and emotions of the story to come through in a visceral, real way. The reader feels all the love, joy, shock, and pain of the parents through their experience of raising and then losing their son. The story is captivating and holds the reader's interest throughout. It is clear that the writing of the book was itself an act of love and it is a gift to those who read it.

Myra St John
From the very first page, Marilyn Rauth embraces you into her life. Her memoir is filled with happiness, humor and deep sadness. She writes with honesty and conviction. I cried and laughed through this page turner. A wonderful tribute to her son and family. I highly recommend this book.

Gene Baynham
I just reread this book having originally read the first draft. At that time I didn't know if I could read it as I had such a close involvement with the author and her family. But I did and was overwhelmed not only by her eloquent expression of her anguish and how she found a way eventually to accept it, but also by her humor.

This is really a wonderful tribute to Robb written by a mother who, through all her profound grief, is able to share the ordinary, the funny. The poignant experiences she had not only with Robb but all who surrounded her.

This is a must read book which I highly recommend.

Carolyn Fruechte
This is a masterfully written true story of a mother's tragic loss of her oldest son. The book took me so intimately into Marilyn's life ~ her marriage, her struggles, joys, heartbreak and healing ~ that I felt I was living it all with her. It was a book I couldn't put down, nor could my husband when I finished and gave it over to him. A most sensitive book of tragedy and healing. 

Tania VazquezA WONDERFUL READ! When I picked up this book I couldn't put it down. Though it was someone else's story I was able to connect immediately to my experience of losing my mother. Beautifully written, this book guides you through a flurry of emotions...I found myself laughing out loud as well as crying throughout the book. A real-life depiction of what a family goes through when losing a loved one.

Elsa Cattano
A poignant, honest, and emotional book -- I could not stop reading even when tears were filling my eyes. This is a sensitive portrayal of life, love, family, loss, and coming thru it. Marilyn writes with clarity and vision.

Patricia Kenny
In Living, Loving and Losing a Son, Marilyn weaves the fabric of her marriage with the sudden death of her oldest son, Robb. It is an intimate reflection on the son who became a man of integrity and lived his truths and a mother's story of loss and grieving; of family and faith, and of personal growth.

Although she wondered how she would ever survive his death and realized that you never "get over" the loss of a loved one, Marilyn gives us what she calls "the gifts of grief" that have helped her move to a place of peace and acceptance. Living, Loving and Losing a Son is an honest and hopeful narrative. I highly recommend it.

Carol HalsteadThis is truly an inspiring book - well written and full of humor, warmth and tragedy. The author's deep love for her son and the warmth felt within the entire family are threads that bind together an outstanding tale of love and loss. This is not just a memoir, it is a poignant story told with passion. I couldn't put it down and neither will you. A must read!!!!

Elizabeth Goldman
This memoir was incredibly honest and written with an unusually beautiful sensitivity. I found myself crying, laughing, enjoying her sharing of experiences and came away filled with a deep admiration for the author. I could not put the book down. Having raised a family from the 60's to the 80's, I could relate to the many experiences the author shared. I will recommend this book to all my friends.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Knowing What To Expect

When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Many people report feeling an initial stage of numbness after first learning of a death, but there is no real order to the grieving process.

Some emotions you may experience include:

These feelings are normal and common reactions to loss. You may not be prepared for the intensity and duration of your emotions or how swiftly your moods may change. You may even begin to doubt the stability of your mental health. But be assured that these feelings are healthy and appropriate and will help you come to terms with your loss.

Remember — It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. You never stop missing your loved one, but the pain eases after time and allows you to go on with your life.

Mourning A Loved One

It is not easy to cope after a loved one dies. You will mourn and grieve. Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss. Mourning may include religious traditions honoring the dead or gathering with friends and family to share your loss. Mourning is personal and may last months or years.

Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically. For instance, crying is a physical expression, while depression is a psychological expression.

It is very important to allow yourself to express these feelings. Often, death is a subject that is avoided, ignored or denied. At first it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain, but you cannot avoid grieving forever. Someday those feelings will need to be resolved or they may cause physical or emotional illness.

Many people report physical symptoms that accompany grief. Stomach pain, loss of appetite, intestinal upsets, sleep disturbances and loss of energy are all common symptoms of acute grief. Of all life’s stresses, mourning can seriously test your natural defense systems. Existing illnesses may worsen or new conditions may develop.

Profound emotional reactions may occur. These reactions include anxiety attacks, chronic fatigue, depression and thoughts of suicide. An obsession with the deceased is also a common reaction to death.

Looking to the Future

Remember, with support, patience and effort, you will survive grief. Some day the pain will lessen, leaving you with cherished memories of your loved one.

Monday, July 30, 2012

When A Child Has Been Murdered: Ways You Can Help the Grieving Parents

By: Bonnie Hunt Conrad

Death, Value and Meaning Series, John D. Morgan, Series Editor


"This book is about parents and their relentless pain following the tragic, traumatic homicide of their child and the ways they are coping. Every parent experiencing this type of grief will be able to relate to the book. Every professional who works with parents affected by homicide will welcome this book as a ready reference in their work. Every law enforcement person who deals with homicide, including police officers, prosecuting attorneys, and judges, will want to read this and learn how to better be with survivors. It is a must for all interested persons who want to help. It is interesting, informative, sensitive, and easy to follow."

—Constance M. Read, DPC, NCC, CPC, R.N.C.S.-P

"Conrad has offered providers and parents a sensitive, insightful and well-crafted book and friend to the very battered and bruised parents (and others close by) now forced to deal with the outrage of a child's murder. It also forces society and community, often unwilling to even see the raw data of violence in our community, to wrestle with this most painful journey of despair and hopelessness, albeit a journey still open to some measure of hope and healing. This book keeps up the publisher's high standards for content, but with welcomed refreshment of more room for the experiential ... connecting our heads with our hearts. The book will be equally friendly to the bereaved parents.

The book states right at the beginning what is at the center for this most difficult loss experience. It does wander back into a general discussion of grief (so useful for this subject, but also for a wider readership), but it is so well crafted that, while being informed, we are building up steam, or at least a running start, to get back into focus on grief that responds to, but dare not succumb to, violent death. Conrad has served us well. More important, she has served grieving parents very well."

—Reverend Richard B. Gilbert, Executive Director of The World Pastoral Care Center

"This is a powerful yet sensitive book with personal accounts by parents who have experienced the saddest loss in a parent's life. The book is easy to read and has a comforting sense of style, which helps to fight back the tears that it evokes at times. The death of a loved one is difficult to discuss. When the death is caused by murder it is even more difficult to comprehend. Conrad addresses areas beyond the funeral and offers insight for those who will be working with the grieving family. . . .I found this book to be both practical and informative. I would highly recommend it to grieving parents, family members, relatives, co-workers, and friends who are dealing with loved ones who have been killed or are dealing with the stages of death and dying."

—Doreen Head, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA, Journal of Family Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, April 1999

"I would recommend this excellent book to anyone bereaved through murder or manslaughter, not just bereaved parents. It will also be of benefit to professionals working with families who have been bereaved in this way. It is one of the best I have read dealing with this painful subject."

—Rose Dixon, Training and Development Officer, SAMM, Bereavement Care, Volume 20, Number 3, Winter 2001


When a Child Has Been Murdered: Ways You Can Help the Grieving Parents is a concise, easy- to-read guide that begins with a general discussion of the types of grief that result from death and non-death losses. Then, using statements made by parents whose children were murdered, it discusses the specifics of murdered-child grief including: the complex emotions felt by the grieving parents, how the necessity of interacting with the criminal justice system can alter and enhance these emotions, short- and long-term methods these parents employ to work through the grieving process and to reconstruct their shattered lives, and how anyone who comes in contact with the parents can help them survive their grief.

This book deals with an issue making headlines throughout the world—the murder of our children, teenagers, and young adults. We all know that murder occurs much too frequently. But do we know that frequency is only half the problem?

The other half is that every time a child is murdered another parent joins thousands of other parents who are struggling to cope with one of the most devastating and debilitating forms of grief. Too often, because the subject of murder is terrifying to all of us, and because too few of us fully understand the complexities of murdered-child grief, these parents are left to grieve alone.

This new work was written to fulfill two objectives. The first is to describe the excruciatingly painful, and sometimes terrifying, emotions of murdered-child grief, and to let newly bereaved parents know that the emotions they are feeling are normal and necessary to the grieving process. The second is to make the bereaved parents' relatives and friends, and all others who come in contact with them, aware of the many ways they can help the parents to survive their devastating grief.

The voices heard in this book are those of actual parents whose children were murdered. Despite their pain, they talk about the brutality of their children's murders, about their experiences with the criminal justice system, and about their short- and long-term efforts to reconstruct their shattered lives. By telling their stories they hope to educate those who have not experienced murdered-child grief as to what it is like to be the parent of a murdered child, and to inform them of the many ways they can help bereaved parents work through the grieving process.

Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.

Phone: 631 691-1270
Fax: 631 691-1770
Toll free order line: 800-638-7819

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Coping with Grief and Loss


Coping with Loss: Guide to Grieving and Bereavement
Losing someone or something you love or care deeply about is very painful. You may experience all kinds of difficult emotions and it may feel like the pain and sadness your experiencing will never let up. These are normal reactions to a significant loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can renew you and permit you to move on.

What is grief?

Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one – and this type of loss does often cause the most intense grief. But any loss can cause grief, including:
  • A relationship breakup
  • Loss of health
  • Losing a job
  • Loss of financial stability
  • A miscarriage
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a cherished dream
  • A loved one’s serious illness
  • Loss of a friendship
  • Loss of safety after a trauma
The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief. However, even subtle losses can lead to grief. For example, you might experience grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, changing jobs, selling your family home, or retiring from a career you loved.

Everyone grieves differently

Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

Myths and Facts About Grief

MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.
Source: Center for Grief and Healing

Are there stages of grief?

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.

The five stages of grief:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who is grieving goes through all of these stages – and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.
Kübler-Ross herself never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who mourns. In her last book before her death in 2004, she said of the five stages of grief, “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”

Grief can be a roller coaster

Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.
Source: Hospice Foundation of America

Common symptoms of grief

While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal – including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.
  • Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
  • Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
  • Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
  • Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
  • Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
  • Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.

Coping with grief and loss tip 1: Get support

The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal.

Finding support after a loss

  • Turn to friends and family members – Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Draw loved ones close, rather than avoiding them, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with funeral arrangements.
  • Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you – such as praying, meditating, or going to church – can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community.
  • Join a support group – Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers.
  • Talk to a therapist or grief counselor – If your grief feels like too much to bear, call a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.

Coping with grief and loss tip 2: Take care of yourself

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When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.
  • Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
  • Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to him or her.
  • Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
  • Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the person you loved.

When grief doesn’t go away

It’s normal to feel sad, numb, or angry following a loss. But as time passes, these emotions should become less intense as you accept the loss and start to move forward. If you aren’t feeling better over time, or your grief is getting worse, it may be a sign that your grief has developed into a more serious problem, such as complicated grief or major depression.

Complicated grief

The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain center stage. If the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it keeps you from resuming your life, you may be suffering from a condition known as complicated grief. Complicated grief is like being stuck in an intense state of mourning. You may have trouble accepting the death long after it has occurred or be so preoccupied with the person who died that it disrupts your daily routine and undermines your other relationships.
Symptoms of complicated grief include:
  • Intense longing and yearning for the deceased
  • Intrusive thoughts or images of your loved one
  • Denial of the death or sense of disbelief
  • Imagining that your loved one is alive
  • Searching for the person in familiar places
  • Avoiding things that remind you of your loved one
  • Extreme anger or bitterness over the loss
  • Feeling that life is empty or meaningless

The difference between grief and depression

Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy, since they share many symptoms. However, there are ways to tell the difference. Remember, grief can be a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.
Other symptoms that suggest depression, not just grief:
  • Intense, pervasive sense of guilt.
  • Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Slow speech and body movements
  • Inability to function at work, home, and/or school.
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.

Can antidepressants help grief?

As a general rule, normal grief does not warrant the use of antidepressants. While medication may relieve some of the symptoms of grief, it cannot treat the cause, which is the loss itself. Furthermore, by numbing the pain that must be worked through eventually, antidepressants delay the mourning process.

When to seek professional help for grief

If you recognize any of the above symptoms of complicated grief or clinical depression, talk to a mental health professional right away. Left untreated, complicated grief and depression can lead to significant emotional damage, life-threatening health problems, and even suicide. But treatment can help you get better.
Contact a grief counselor or professional therapist if you:
  • Feel like life isn’t worth living
  • Wish you had died with your loved one
  • Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
  • Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
  • Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
  • Are unable to perform your normal daily activities