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Coping with Grief – HOW TO keep living in the face of a GREAT LOSS

Seven years ago my grief nearly destroyed my family and drove my friends away. But I found an answer. Here is my story…

If you are reading this, just like me, you are hurting, you’re lost and confused about why you react the way you do and why everyone else expects you to do this that or the other or just to “get over it”. Sometimes it makes you feel like you’re going crazy, or that you are not trying hard enough.

I was really lost and whilst I knew that crying was not going to solve anything, to begin with I just couldn’t stop. My name is Penny – let me explain where all those tears came from and how I found a way to get past that, and go on with my life.

After the death of my mother a few years ago I found myself struggling to deal with my grief, and that of my father. I am an only child, so dealing with everything fell to me. My mother was the one who managed things, did the paperwork, dealt with the bills and all of the daily practical aspects of life. So there I was filled with my own grief at her loss, but expected to deal with the legals, arrange the funeral, deal with arranging support for my father, and try to make sure that all of the mandatory things were done.

It was two days before Christmas when Mum died and that made it emotionally much harder, as well as practically very difficult, with much of the government and commercial world on Christmas leave.

Mentally, I became distanced from everything: I shut down my grief internally and focused on dealing with the practical stuff – just surviving each day. The problem was that every time I let my guard down, the pain, loss and confusion came back with a vengeance. I even started to avoid the places that my mother and I loved to visit so much together

Distantly, I realised that was not a good way to be, and went looking for anything that I could find to help me deal with it, and to let me help my father cope. I realised that what I needed was information about what was happening to me. I wanted to understand why I was acting the way I was. I wanted to be sure I was not going crazy.

I easily found some very basic pieces of information from the government organisations on their requirements but that was mostly dry legal stuff about what forms I need to submit to whom and by when.

The on-line grief and bereavement support forums and bulletin boards were full of people who were just as heartbroken and in need of help as I was, and many who might have had the best intentions but insisted that their way of dealing with life is the only way, and that everyone else has no clue.

I spent a lot of money on grief therapy sessions and spent a lot of time with the local priest – both the therapist and priest were well meaning and helpful people but I quickly I realised that they simply put forward the same information over and over again (and it was their view of things , with no flexibility to deal with how I saw the world), expecting me to just accept it and “get over” my grief.

There was no information available about why I and my father were reacting and acting the way we were, nor about what to do, how to understand and move forward. What little I found was either opinion, very locally focused, or put forward from one perspective only, There was no allowance for different needs, beliefs, backgrounds or cultures.

I was determined to understand what my father and I were going through so I started to do my own research. I read many books as I could find on grief (and there really were not many) and spoke to other people who were also in the process of coping with grief. As I did that, I came to understand that, at some stage in our lives, we…

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