Monday, September 28, 2015

The Way We Grieve ~ #MondayBlogs

September is an emotional month for many, there are the memories of 9/11 and all the lives lost and so many of us, even those fortunate not to be personally touched, still tear up and mourn the loss of lives and innocence. This year the Jewish Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur happened in September; on Yom Kippur we (Jews) say a memorial prayer for the departed and remember our loved ones who are no longer with us on this earth. There are also other times throughout the year for us to remember and pay homage to those who have left their earthly presence.

Why do we keep reminding ourselves of these losses? It is important to remember our loved ones and even the ancestors we never met except for the stories we were told. We hold onto our memories, but we are not supposed to drown ourselves in sorrow. We are not supposed to stop living. In the memorial prayer we say on Yom Kippur we pledge charity in the name(s) of our departed loved ones to bring some good into the world. Life goes on.

There are natural stages of grief and most of us really have to take the journey, it's just being human:
1. Denial and Isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Some casual family friends recently suffered an unexpected loss. Their large extended family and good friends immediately encircled the grieving family being there to show their love, lend shoulders, carry tissues, cook and care for the mourners. Their pain over their loss was there, but the feeling of being left alone in the world wasn't. Like a child who fears losing his or her parents, those left behind wonder who will be there to take care of us, to comfort us, to guide us and it doesn't matter what age you are or how independent you've lived your life.

People who come to pay their respects don't always know what to say to someone who is mourning. Talk about the person, share your memories (memories to mentally hold onto are the most precious gift). Don't ignore the painful truth, that a loved one has died, but don't make that the sole focus of your conversation. Avoid minimizing their feelings or trying to make them see how much worse things could be. Even a few attempts at mild, polite humor are not out of line.

If you are planning to offer comfort to a grieving family, it may be a good idea to know the mourning and funeral customs if they are people of faith. Each religion has specific traditions they follow. If you would like to learn more about these different customs, check out  Funeral Traditions Of Different Religions (

May you all enjoy long happy lives surrounded by loved ones

“Because I can count on my fingers the number of sunsets I have left,
and I don't want to miss any of them.” 

― Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire

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