Grief

“We know nothing about what is next” — Lessons on Loving & Losing a Child.

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"I cannot control their world, nor prevent them from all harm. All I can do is try and focus on the now. Focus on what matters... And love them. I can love them in every way I know how."

Source: “We know nothing about what is next”—Lessons on Loving & Losing a Child.

Joe Primo on Supporting Grieving Children

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"There is a cultural narrative that tells us that bad things don’t happen to good people. As a result, we spend a lot of time protecting kids from natural life events, like death."

Source: Joe Primo on Supporting Grieving Children. Option B

 

Parenting Through Illness & Grief

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"This one page handout provides an overview of the findings from a research study of parent caregivers. The study was conducted as a collaboration between Dr. Jay Children`s Grief Centre and the Nanny Angel Network" 

Source: Parenting Through Illness & Grief. Canadian Virtual Hospice

Grief In The Classroom: 'Saying Nothing Says A Lot'

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" 'Virtually all children will go through it — but that doesn't mean it's a normalizing experience,' says Dr. David Schonfeld, an expert on student grief and a driving force behind the new website. 'Even though it's common, it warrants our attention.' "

Source: Grief In The Classroom: 'Saying Nothing Says A Lot'

Death: A Part of Life. A 5-Part Mini Series (podcast)

Am honoured to have been a guest panelist on the final instalment of Death: A Part of Life - Part 5: The Grieving Process.

This informative 5-Part radio series with the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice aired on CHML 900. Each week panelists including caregivers and healthcare professionals convened to open up a conversation about dying, death, grief and loss. The series explores issues such as: coping with the diagnosis of a serious illness; demystifying hospice palliative care; exploring available supports and services; advance care planning; the dying process and grieving which ultimately impacts us all.

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The links to the podcasts of Death: A Part of Life are listed below:

 Death, A Part Of Life - Part 1: Palliative Care

It’s a fact of life that at one point we all will die. But is it all as simple as that? Bill Kelly and the Bob Kemp hospice will be discussing grief, relief and the acceptance of passing away. On today’s show we discuss what happens when you’re told you don’t have much time left, and whether healthcare is asking too much of caregivers, and whether people are prepared for palliative care.

Death, A Part Of Life - Part 2: Changes To Palliative Care.

For our second show, we will discuss what the palliative care system is now, how it works and what changes need to be made. What does one of our local MPPs hear from his constituents about healthcare and in particular, palliative care? How would changes affect patients? Does fear have a hold on how we make our decisions once we’re diagnosed as palliative? An example of this is whether to choose palliative care or medically assisted death.

Death, A Part Of Life - Part 3: Religion and Palliative Care.

We continue our series this week with two topics. The first one will be discussing the experience of death. Everyone treats death in our world differently. But is it strictly a medical experience or is it a spiritual one? In our second half, we will talk about access to palliative care services in various sectors of our society. How do we help the vulnerable and the community obtain access to proper palliative care?

Death: A Part of Life - Part 4: Bucket lists and preparation.

Life should be celebrated at all stages, whether it be infancy, adulthood and as life comes to a close. So how can we make the most out of life? How can those who are in palliative care achieve their “bucket list” dreams before they pass, and how does it apply when it comes to their own personal circumstances? How do we define a “bucket list”? How wise is it to be prepared for eventual health issues? How should we plan for advanced care and how does it affect the family? How do we navigate through the difficult decisions and pain to provide care for loved ones who are palliative?

Death: A Part of Life - Part 5: The grieving process.

The final instalment in our series sees us discussing grief and how this isn’t just an event that happens in life but a process that families have to go through. How do families grieve the loss of a loved one? How can we support one another and how does grief affect children?

Source: Global News. AM 900 CHML

Camp Erin: Where Children and Teens Learn to Grieve and Heal

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Am honoured to volunteer with Camp Erin. It is indeed a remarkable community and one that nurtures capacity in children and youth to grieve the death of a loved one.

"Children and teens ages 6-17 attend a transformational weekend camp that combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, free of charge for all families. Led by grief professionals and trained volunteers, Camp Erin provides a unique opportunity for youth to increase levels of hope, enhance self-esteem, and especially to learn that they are not alone.

Camp Erin is offered in every Major League Baseball city as well as additional locations across the U.S. and Canada. The Moyer Foundation partners with hospices and bereavement organizations to bring hope and healing to thousands of grieving children and teens each year.

Camp Erin allows youth to:

  • Tell their story in a safe environment
  • Process grief in healthy ways
  • Meet friends facing similar circumstances
  • Learn they are not alone
  • Build a tool-box of coping skills
  • Honor and memorialize loved ones
  • Have fun!"

Source: Camp Erin. The Moyer Foundation 

For information on Camp Erin locations in Ontario, please visit: Camp Erin Hamilton; Camp Erin Toronto; Camp Erin Eastern Ontario; Camp Erin Montreal

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Camp Erin offers a weekend for kids coping with grief and loss

"We strongly believe that the Camp Erin experience is life-changing. Family members and caregivers experiencing their own grief, while simultaneously helping their child to grieve, are often overwhelmed and feel helpless. Grief left unchecked can lead to depression, behavioural issues, suicide and substance abuse.

Much of what is addressed at camp is the isolation kids feel around their grief; it is a poignant experience for the campers to have the chance to go away for three days, (oftentimes, these kids have never been up north) with other people their own age, forming a bond over their loss. Camp Erin is a safe place for young people to identify with other kids who are feeling the same emotions, including anger, worry, guilt and often, a "Why me?" outlook.

When kids come back from camp, at ease and with the confidence to talk about their grief, it gets passed along to their parents."

Full article: Camp Erin offers a weekend for kids coping with loss

When Grief Gets Physical: dealing with physical grief symptoms

"There is simply no way to anticipate what grief feels like.  It is one of those experiences that you can describe to someone, but it is impossible to really understand it until you are forced to live with it.  Of all the unimaginable aspects of grief, there is one thing we hear people say time and again that they really didn’t expect: physical grief symptoms. They might not have been fully able to appreciate the emotional rollercoaster of grief until they were on it, but they at least had a sense it was part of the process.  The physical stuff is something many people tell us they simply didn’t know to expect until it hit them like a ton of bricks.

When this happens, it can be distressing.  Anytime we have new, uncomfortable physical issues it is distressing.  But in grief that can sometimes be coupled with a new level of anxiety.  In the past, a headache was a headache.  After the devastating loss of a loved one, you are all-to-familiar with the reality that life can turn on a dime."

Read the full article at What's Your Grief

How to Speak to Someone About an Unspeakable Loss

"Today, as I recall the loss of my own infant son, I think about the one person who did truly comfort me. She arrived at my house with a bottle of fine brandy and said, “This is everyone’s worst nightmare. I am so, so sorry this has happened.”

Then we sat on the lawn and she poured me a drink as she listened to every horrible detail.

As I look back now, I still feel how much her gesture helped me cope through those early days of pain. She didn’t try to fix me or try to make sense of what happened. She didn’t even try to comfort me. The comfort she gave came through her being in it with me.

You can’t fix what happened, but you can sit with someone, side by side, so they don’t feel quite so alone. That requires only intention, a willingness to feel awkward, and an open, listening heart. It’s the one gift that can make a difference."

What Complicated Grief Is Like

"...Today, I can say that, of course, my life was permanently changed by losing Eric, but I know it is possible to make a new life that is rich and satisfying — though often tinged with sadness.

Now I find myself going and doing and functioning, and taking joy in life and its challenges. I never believed that would be possible, but I assure you it is. There are still times, especially good times, when the pain of missing Eric stops me in my tracks. But there are good times.

I believe I have grown in my ability to be compassionate and to understand the pain that others may be experiencing. Once you know the pain of excruciating, incomprehensible loss, you can’t un-know it. But when you endure struggle, you can also learn empathy.

I am sharing this because until I was diagnosed and treated with complicated grief — which I had never even heard of before and which 7 percent of bereaved people struggle with — I felt isolated and like my life had no meaning. I hope my story will reach anyone who’s feeling like that and show them there is hope. I even appeared on CBS to spread the word about complicated grief and help others who may be struggling. The Center for Complicated Grief has a website and can be found here."

A Therapeutic Intervention Facilitating Connection in the Context of Life-Limiting Illness

This video provides a brief overview of an expressive arts project that I complete with families of all ages, following the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, through to end-of-life and into bereavement. Presented at the 13th Annual Innovations in Palliative Care – Leadership, Courage & Community. McMaster University. Department of Family Medicine. Division of Palliative Care. Faculty of Health Sciences (November 2016). This project serves as a therapeutic intervention facilitating communication and honouring connections in the context of life-limiting illness and can be completed by anyone, anywhere at any time. 

It’s a profoundly intimate experience when we are allowed to care for someone… that compassionate connection can transcend so many barriers, and can sometimes even transcend suffering. That connection can be extraordinary.

We all have a role to play in helping to honour someone’s legacy. I believe as Health Care Professionals, like those we care for - we can be courageous in the face of illness, and vulnerability and uncertainty…

We can step out from behind the protection of our roles and in doing so, provide invaluable opportunities for families to connect, and collectively process experiences from time of diagnosis through to end-of-life and into bereavement. 

Source: You Tube. A Therapeutic Intervention Facilitating Connection in the Context of Life-Limiting Illness

On Talking About the Hard Things of Life @racheltoalson

“We are taught to believe that strength and perseverance and hope do not include brokenness. But that’s simply not true. Our brokenness, our sadness—they are the precursors to becoming strong and mighty. We step into our cracks and we kneel down and we pour our attention on them, and that is what becomes the superglue that puts us back together.

We do this alone and we do it together.

When we turn away and hide our sadness or our mess or the hard places in our lives, apologizing that we can’t get it together, what we’re doing is denying others the opportunity to step into our cracks with us. To come alongside us and say, Hey, you’re not alone. To take our broken pieces and and glue them back into place.

The opposite of turning away is turning toward. I know that sounds obvious. But what exactly is turning toward in a situation like this one?

It’s acknowledging our sadness, however deep it goes. It’s talking about our sorrow, however founded or unfounded it may be. It’s sharing our pain, our sickness, our burdens with one another and healing together—whether that together is with friends, family or people you just met who share your own pain or sickness or the kind of burdens you carry.

Maybe some won’t always take our brokenness the right way. Maybe sometimes they’ll call us names or shame us or make us feel like we’ve done the exact thing we should never have done. But the only way to survive the hard places is to open them to the light. The only way back to strength is to acknowledge how this thing has weakened us. The only way out is through the cracks.”

Treating troubled family dynamics reduces complicated grief

“Professor David Kissane, who heads the department of psychiatry at Monash University in Melbourne, has developed a family-focussed model of grief therapy to prevent complicated bereavement. A trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology earlier this year found the therapy reduced the severity of complicated grief in high-risk families and the development of prolonged grief disorder.

Professor Kissane says bereavement therapy for families is more effective than therapy for individuals when grief is being perpetuated by dysfunctional family relationships. He says the most common family configuration he sees is parents and their children, but for some families it includes a neighbour, grandparents or aunts and uncles.

‘Family centred care is based on the idea that families that grieve together stay together and they heal their grief very well,’ he tells Palliative Matters.”

64 New Year’s Resolutions for Grievers

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“One of my favorites was a beautiful comment from Jeannette Brown, a Buddhist, who explained that “rather than make resolutions for grief, every morning and every evening we pray (by chanting, our form of prayer) for the happiness or repose of all of the deceased. We believe that if we continue our growth and pursuit of happiness, our deceased family and friends will continue to become happy as well”.   I love that sentiment so much, but as someone who just barely manages to commit to a shower every day, resolutions admittedly help keep me on track.

Whatever is right for you, grief resolution or no grief resolution, we hope you find the list of ideas… helpful in thinking about how you will grieve in the new year.”

Grief: Special Days and Holidays. @VictoriaHospice

"After someone dies, you may find that your grief surfaces again and again. Often this seems to happen ‘out of the blue’ and it may feel like an unwelcome intrusion. You may have been enjoying yourself one moment and then be in tears the next. You may also notice that certain days, holidays or public events are more likely or return..."

~Grief: Special Days and Holidays

Tips for Coping with Grief at the Holidays @WhatsYourGrief

"Because the holidays are tough for all of us, the least we can do are share our tips and tricks with one another to make the season just a smidge more tolerable." ~What's Your Grief

What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone #Grief

"It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control."

Children's Grief Awareness Day November 17, 2016 #CGADHOPE

"Children's Grief Awareness Day is designed to help us all become more aware of the needs of grieving children — and of the benefits they obtain through the support of others. Children's Grief Awareness Day is an opportunity to make sure that grieving children receive the support they need.”

I can’t save my daughter from a terminal illness. But we can help save other children from the same fate.

"There is no way to escape losing a sense of who you once were. And after a year (or two), you wake up from this transformation and realize that you were not actually dying; you just felt like you were. And then you must make a choice. One option: You can give into the horror of it all and retire to bed. No one would blame you; it is a tempting alternative that lurks at the back of my brain from time to time even now. The other option is that you take the pain and harness it to do things you could not imagine ever possessing the strength to accomplish. Being around children like my daughter will teach you the very meaning of life."

If You’re Grieving, You’re Not Alone. Here Are 15 Stories That May Help.

“There is no schedule for when you should feel certain emotions, or be over others. Choose to stand up for you and the rest of your life, and choose to move on. You don’t have to figure out how you’re going to get through the rest of your life. Just focus on staying in the game and moving forward now. It is normal to cry and be depressed, but you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”