Guilt & Grief: Feeling Okay after Losing a Loved One

Losing someone close to you presents a variety of emotions. Sadness, anger, or simply feeling numb are some responses; but the possible reactions are endless. Since each person has a very unique relationship with the deceased, it makes sense that their reactions will be equally unique.  It’s important to realize that you are not obligated to feel one way just because family or friends are expressing a certain emotion. It’s necessary that you know you are allowed to be doing well after the loss of a loved one. God does not judge you, nor compare you to others. He accepts you for all that you are and however you feel. Even knowing all this, it may be difficult if you find yourself moving forward while others continue to mourn. Continue reading for guidance and support on how to navigate these differences.

Everyone Reacts Differently

After the passing of a loved one, you may feel as if there is a hole in your life. It may seem that there is a missing piece that you are not sure how to fill or fix. People cope with the loss of a loved one in a variety of ways. Some people are extremely emotional during these times, you may see them crying or lashing out in anger. On the other hand, some people do nothing of the sort. Some feel no need to cry or be emotional. A sense of guilt may come over you for not expressing sadness as much as other family or friends. You may feel as if it looks like you do not take this situation as seriously as the rest of the bereaved, which is not true. This lack of emotion and compelling sense of guilt is not unusual. If you have felt this way, you are not alone. It does not mean you care less than others or even that you are not as sad as the rest of your family or friends. Everyone responds differently to heartache and if your reaction is more stoic, more subdued, or less emotional, it is both a valid and acceptable way to react.

Healing Takes on Various Forms

There are many ways and instances that show how a person’s healing process is different from others. Some people who are actively mourning may not want to talk about the deceased. Whereas, you may have no issue bringing up their name or telling stories about them. For some it may be too hard to see items that belonged to their loved one, but for you this may not be a big deal. Further, it may not be difficult for you to visit the grave of the deceased while it may be incredibly difficult for other mourning friends or family. You may feel connected to your loved one again or comforted by going to their grave, while others may not be able to. You should not feel ashamed of these differences. Instead, embrace them and learn how to heal within your own comfort levels.

God Understands

God is all knowing and loving. If your healing process includes you not showing your emotions, God understands. If you do not want to talk about your loss and keep to yourself, God accepts that as well. He knows how you truly feel and why you heal the way you do because He created you that way. He made you unique. We can take comfort in knowing that He will never compare you to others. He understands that you need to mourn in the way that is best for you. He alone knows what will bring you true comfort and healing. He accepts you for all that you are and how you feel, so lean on Him in times when you aren’t sure how to process your emotions. God will guide you.

Post written by Nicole Krantz

3 Steps to Renewal: Reconnecting with Friends After Losing a Loved one

Grief is an experience unlike any other. It changes the very foundation of who you are and how you interact with others. Especially during the early stages of grief, it’s hard to find a new normal, and the comfortable habits and relationships that you once knew may be completely different. During this time, it’s common to lose touch with certain friends. This can be hurtful, as just when you need your best friends most, they may seem more distant than ever. Try to remember that this distance usually isn’t any one person’s fault, but rather a combination of circumstance and misunderstanding.

Restarting these relationships can be an incredibly healing experience, and one that can help you work through your grief and towards a “new normal.” Keep reading for some guidance on how to approach this delicate subject.

Acknowledge the Awkwardness

Remember that grief changes you. Things that used to be familiar may seem strange and different. There will likely be some awkwardness when talking to your friend for the first time in a while. There might even be some tension if either of you feels hurt by the lack of communication. In fact, chances are that you are both experiencing similar feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and hurt. As hard as it may be, try to push through these feelings and remember why you love your friend so much. If this is a relationship you truly value and cherish, then it is one worth your commitment and energy. Along the way, just accept the awkwardness for what it is. You can’t expect to immediately start back to where you were before losing your loved one, so simply understanding that you’re on the first step toward rebuilding your friendship is enough.  

Be Honest and Self-Aware

Once you begin talking with your friend, it’s important to come from an honest and compassionate place. Instead of trying to place blame or incite feelings of guilt, having an open discussion about how you are handling your grief is much healthier – it will give your friend a glimpse into what you’ve been struggling with, and how this dramatic life change may have impacted your relationship with them. You should also give your friend time to talk about what they’ve been experiencing. While you have lost a loved one, they may be grieving the loss of what your friendship used to be. The key is not to point fingers or make each other feel guilty, but rather to reach a place of common understanding, compassion, and trust. Sometimes simply talking through your experience can help provide the needed perspective to help your friendship move forward.

Focus on Moving Forward

While it’s important to understand what happened in the past, try not to linger on it for too long. Don’t hold on to grudges or bring up past mistakes. Instead, focus your energy on moving forward. What will you both commit to do to keep your friendship moving forward? Maybe it’s scheduling a weekly coffee date or phone call. Maybe you decide to restart a shared hobby – or start a new activity altogether! With time your friendship will grow and continue to develop. In many cases, this new stage of your friendship will be even stronger than before.

On a final note, keep in mind that every friendship and situation is different. In some cases, it may be healthier for you to let a friendship fade, or in some cases you may establish a new form of friendship. It’s important to do what’s best for you. If a friendship is preventing you from moving forward in a healthy way, it may be best to step back and allow the Lord to guide you toward other people in your life. This can be a hard decision to make, and losing your friend may add to your existing grief. If you find yourself in this position, joining a support group or finding a counselor may be a good idea to ensure you’re receiving the support you need.

Post written by Katie Karpinski 

He Makes All Things New

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

– Revelations 21:3-4

Many of us are familiar with Revelations 21:3-4. The phrases used and the imagery depicted have brought comfort to those who are grieving, as the passage tells of a time when suffering will be no more and the concept of death no longer has a hold on us. But there is something more to this passage that doesn’t often make it to greeting cards and memorial services…

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelations 21:1-5

Revelations 21:1-5

Looking at the passage as a whole, we are told about God’s loving promise of renewal. God doesn’t simply erase pain from the world, He actually transforms the world and makes it new. This transformative change is a necessary part in God’s plan to bring us all into communion with Him.

We are called to embrace this idea in our everyday lives. Change is often seen as something to be afraid of, and sometimes new starts are more frightening than they are comforting. This is normal and part of the human experience. However, in times when a change in our life may seem overwhelming or too much to bear (such as losing a loved one) reminding yourself that change isn’t inherently destructive can expand your outlook. Change, while painful, can also lead to greater comfort and healing moving forward.

Whether we’re entering a new year, new season, or even a new day – we are called to embrace the newness and change that God places in our lives. Change is the catalyst to something new. No day is ever the same as the last. As we embrace this concept, we can learn to appreciate each new day as it comes to us, and embrace those bad days that are bound to happen. Just like everything in life, even our worst days will end, and a new day will begin.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

What to Expect When Attending a Grief Support Group

The Catholic Cemetery Association offers a safe and welcoming environment where the bereaved can come to be present with others who understand. The hardest parts of processing grief are best dealt with by talking about what you are feeling and realizing that most of what you experience is normal and eases over time.

Here are a few of the most common things to expect when attending one of our Grief Support Groups:

Relief/Clarity

You’ll find a sense of relief or freedom in being able to be open with your feelings.  Sometimes with family or friends, we tend to want to protect others from our hurt and pain and we don’t allow ourselves to fully experience the grief. We feel we have to be strong for them or we feel that we should be further along in our grieving. This is true especially if others in your family don’t “seem” to be grieving as much as you. Attending a support group can illustrate how everyone’s grief is personal and unique, and that everyone processes grief differently. In some cases, you may find new coping skills for common grief experiences.

Companionship

Our number one goal is for you to know that you do not have to be alone in your grief. Our support groups are designed to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for you to share your grief story and share experiences with other participants. While each grief experience is different, there is strength and comfort to be found in knowing you are not alone.

Diverse grief needs

There will be other participants in the group with varying degrees of grief. Some may have recently lost their loved one, and others may be working through a loss they experienced years ago. You may encounter others in the group who handle life in general differently from you. In our groups, we respect each person’s unique way of processing grief, without judgement. There are no wrong questions or feelings because your feelings are unique to your life experiences. In fact, these differences can provide you with a greater perspective in regard to grief and the healing process.

What NOT to expect:

Professional Counseling or Therapy

Our Group Facilitators are not psychologists or therapists, but rather trained specifically to help people understand what grief is and to encourage effective group discussions. We are able to help direct people in need of deeper grief work, to local resources for obtaining one-on-one or a specific type of grief counseling (widows, infant/child loss, accidental, traumatic/violence, suicide, substance abuse death, and other types of intense grief experiences).

A Quick Fix

Processing your grief is not a quick fix. It is not reasonable to expect to be back to “normal” in six months, or even a year. It takes time and patience as you work through painful emotions and life-altering changes.  But with a good support network at your side, you will find hope to take that next courageous step toward your new normal.

Grief will never be an easy journey, especially if you are attempting to journey it alone. Come and join a warm fellowship of people with similar grief experiences, helping each other through prayer, shared stories, and grief recovery discussions.

Post written by Kaleigh Rice

Content derived from interview with CCA Bereavement Coordinator, Rhonda Abrams.

8 Attainable Resolutions for the Bereaved

For those who have lost a loved one, new year’s resolutions come down to personal preference. For some, the idea of a resolution may seem too overwhelming at the time– similar to starting a new project or chore in the midst of extreme sorrow. For others, resolutions serve as an inspirational and motivational tool that helps them cope with grief and grow as a person. Whether or not you choose to take on a new year’s resolution is entirely up to you and where you are on your grief journey. However, if you are interested in taking on a new year’s resolution, keep reading for some ideas!

Recognize your strengths

Losing a loved one can install feelings of weakness or helplessness. Start the new year by making a list of your personal strengths, your blessings, and your dreams. Take action and leverage your strengths to accomplish new goals and cope with your grief.

Slow down

Make sure that you aren’t using a busy schedule or work life to cope with your grief. Not only does that make for an unhealthy healing, but it can also be emotionally and physically exhausting. Make a promise in this new year to slow down and take more time for yourself.

Attend a support group

Support groups are a great way to cope with your grief. Sharing experiences within a support group is a way for all involved to grieve in a healthy and constructive way. (Interested in joining a support group? Click here.)

Try a new hobby

It’s never too late to learn something new. If you feel stagnant or if you feel stuck, pick up a new hobby and see where it takes you. Whether it’s photography, sewing, or hiking– find something new to learn and enjoy to bring some excitement in your life.

Get 20 minutes of sunlight or fresh air each day

Fresh air and sunlight can do wonderful things for the mind, body, and spirit. While it may be tempting to stay indoors all day, try to get outside for at least 20 minutes each day. Even if it’s just in your backyard.

Speak your loved one’s name

Keep the memory of your loved one alive in the new year by speaking their name often. The key to grieving is not to forget, but to remember with hope that you will one day be reunited.

Start a journal

Journaling can be a great way to cope with grief and express your emotions. Think of journaling as a personal letter to God. What are you feeling? What are your hopes? Share these with him and see where the journey takes you. Try to make it a daily habit—God likes to hear from us every day.

Be open to happiness

While there will always be a part of you that misses your loved one dearly, never forget to be open to happiness and new experiences. Pay attention to the blessings God has placed in your life, big and small.

Post written by Katie Karpinski