Category Archives: Grief

Visiting The Dead

cemeteryDying is a big business that only few people can afford.

Following Mark Twain´s recommendation that one should visit a cemetery when one suffers from a spell of sadness, so I did.

I am not a person to worship the dead every week or every month, but I like doing it once in a while, especially when in this cemetery I have my mother.

It was a fine day of early autumn and, in fact, it was really hot. This is a city cemetery. Therefore, it is huge.

It is difficult to find one’s way among the graves and the hole recesses on the wall. It seems that even in cemeteries there are different classes of people.

The rich have enormous marble graves with statues and loads of flowers.Why go through that cost? Why not make a headstone from glass, fiberglass or some other less expensive material?

The poor are mainly located on walls. Little plates show their names and the their birth and death dates. Most of these hole recesses won’t be forever.

The family of a dead will have paid some money to have him there for a number of years. On finishing the lease, they will be removed and buried in what is known as a common grave.

When I pass by these enormous graves, I think of how much money some families are ready to spend.

The dead person won’t see it, but it seems to me sort of showing off to the public that passes them by.

People may think that this person was very much loved when he or she was alive, but I know well that we only appreciate people when they have departed forever.

Wouldn’t it be worth giving this big money to some charity or medical fund? Something that actually benefits the living rather than the dead who can’t use it in any way?

The more I visit a cemetery the more I think that I don’t wish to be buried to rot. If there is something which is still valid I want it to be used on someone else.

Dying is a big business.

Everything costs.

The laid-in in a funeral home is something that only a few can afford. The dead person would have made up and dressed up so as to disguise the signs of the illness he or she suffered.

Many people will pass by the dead to bid farewell and there will be those who probably forgot about him when he was still alive, battling with his illness. Everybody writes flattering words for the deceased.

It seems that the more flowers and people pouring in the burial and the funeral the more this person was loved and cherished.

But were they really?

Have We Learned Our Lesson?

have we learned anythingThis may be a little out of character, but watching all the news lately and seeing what’s going on with the new president and all, I just had to vent.

Have we learned our lesson?

It’s been a rough one but maybe it has seeped into our hard heads.

This attitude of “I deserve it now” “I want it all now” was for the birds from the get go. It couldn’t last. We can’t have it all right now.

We let the money-changers tell us we could and look what happened. It all blew up in our faces.

Now we can return from the fiasco with a new attitude. We can live simply within our means and understand that we can’t have it all right now.

Will We Learn Our Lesson

When anyone tells you to sit back on your hinny and receive 15 or 20 percent on your money, don’t you know it’s really not going to happen? Making money isn’t that easy.

And don’t we know debt driven consumer spending won’t work either? Not to pull us out of this mess we are in. It’s going to take honest work and production.

We’re going to have to forget these selfish ideas that psychologists and financiers have fed the public, It was foolish to begin with and those who fell for it are feeling the pinch, along with those who knew better all the time.

This jive about ” I deserve it all” “I’m worth it” The truth is we don’t deserve it unless we can pay for it. And to make money we have to produce a product that sells. Be it in a factory, business, technology or anything else that results in sales.

Big banks and mortgage companies sitting on top of the heap, grabbing interest with both hands from wild consumer spending, will hopefully no longer exist in the previous fashion according to this website.

They are being investigated for all the fast deals they have pulled. We now find many homes have been foreclosed on illegally, and banks and mortgage companies will pay.

Some are already paying millions for unsavory deals.

For years we let them go their merry way, until they have caused the whole system to tumble.

It’s basically what happened in the Great Depression, and it will happen again. The reckless profiteers were chastised and regulated, and a welfare safety net was put in place.

Franklin Roosevelt said,

Unscrupulous money-changers have fled from from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.

Perhaps these ancient truths were, decency, fairness, respect, hard work, loyalty, caution and integrity.

We have admired our villains and helped them siphon the money out of our pockets.

We made it easy for them to cheat and lie by harping, “I deserve it” “I’m worth it” “I want it all now” Maybe a lesson has been learned.

Maybe we can learn to live simply within our means, and consume more wisely.

Maybe we will teach our children the values of our grandfathers.

Bereavement and Anxiety

anxiousChildren who experienced the death of a parent were compared to clinically depressed children and a control group in this study measuring anxiety.

None of the bereaved children met the DSM-III-R criteria for anxiety disorder, although an increase of anxiety was recorded.

Anxiety about the possible death of another family member were slightly higher eight weeks after the death than immediately after the death. Especially when the child was at the funeral.

Source: Sanchez, L, Fristad, M, Weller, R.A. and Moye, J. Anxiety in acutely bereaved prepubertal children. Annual of Clinical Psychiatry, 1994, 6 (1): 39-43.

The child’s adjustment after the death of a parent.

In a study conducted with school children bereaved and non-bereaved children were compared.

Shortly after the death of a parent very little difference was found in measures of emotional well-being.

However, after two years the bereaved children showed higher levels of social withdrawal, social problems and anxiety as well as lower levels of self-esteem.

In approximately 20% of the bereaved children these levels were such as to indicate that the children would benefit from professional assistance.

Source: Worden, J.W. & Silverman, P.R. Parental death and the adjustment of school-age children. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 1996, 33 (2): 91-102.

Child development and concept of death

This study found no difference in an accurate concept of death (using Piagetian theory) between children who have experienced the death of a sibling and children who have not experienced bereavement. Coming up with ideas for funeral memorial services seemed to connect the child with the adult passing.

The study also discovered that 45.7% of the 5 year olds had an accurate concept of death, as did 60% of the 6-8 year olds and 90-100% of the 9-12 year olds.

Source: Cain, A.C. and Lohnes, K.L. Identificatory symptoms in bereaved children: a diagnostic note. Journal of Development, 16(4), 282-284: 1995

Gender differences in school adjustment after parental separation.

In a study to determine what factors were related to adjustment in school after parental separation some differences were found between boys and girls.

Those girls who reported less blaming of their mother and who reported that mother had positive things to say about the father exhibited good adjustment.

With the boys the following was related to good adjustment: both parents having positive things to say about each other, less blaming of the father for the separation, low fear of abandonment, and good parenting skills by the mother.

Source: Oppenheimer, K., Prinz, R.J. and Bella, B.S. Determinants of adjustment for children of divorcing parents. Family Medicine, 22(2), 107-111, 1990.

Childhood bereavement and adult depression.

Among adults who had experienced the death of a parent in childhood, those who reported a warm, supportive relationship with the surviving parent, freedom from over-protectiveness and having had opportunities to actively grieve displayed lower levels of depressive experiences as adults than those who experienced the opposite.

Source: Saler, L. and Skolnick, N. Childhood parental death and depression in adulthood: roles of surviving parent and family environment. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 62 (4), 504-516, 1992.

What helps a child to mourn?

In this self-report study children mentioned talking to family members, talking to God, yelling, out-of doors activities and art work as being helpful to them in their mourning.

Source: Lehna, C.R. Children’s descriptions of their feelings and what they found helpful during bereavement. American Journal of Hospital and Palliative Care, 1995, 12 (5): 24-30.

Pre-death and post-death anxiety and depression.

Among children with a parent dying of cancer high levels of anxiety and depression were noted. After the death of the parent the level dropped to normal with seven to twelve months

Source: Siegel, K., Karus, D. and Raveis, V.H. Adjustment of children facing the death of a parent due to cancer. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1996, 35 (4): 442-450.

Stability after the death of a parent leads to normal developmental patterns.

The researchers compared children who have experienced the death of a parent with two groups: “normal” school children and depressed in -patients. When a stable home environment was provided for the bereaved children, measures of behavior, self-esteem, interest in school, peer involvement, and peer enjoyment resembled those of the “normal” children.

Source: Fristad, M.A., Jedel, R., Weller, R.A., and Weller, E.B. Psychosocial functioning in children after the death of a parent. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1993, 150(3): 511-513.

“Relationship” with deceased parent leads to effective grieving.

This study took a look at intervention groups for grieving children to see if there were any common threads in effective grieving. One thing they found was that an important aspect of grieving was to maintain an emotion attachment to an internal image of the deceased parent. Rather than encourage children to “put the past behind them”, it would seem that it would be helpful to help the child strengthen the inner representation of the parent.

Source: Lohnes, K.L. and Kalter, N. Preventitive intervention groups for parentally bereaved children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry: 1994, 64(4): 594-603

Grieving Children

When there’s a death in the family you often see a “balancing act”.little girl greiving

Feelings of intense grief can disorient and immobilize a person.

Because of this, it is not emotionally safe for everyone in the family to feel intense grief at the same time.

Kids will often hold back on their grief, trying to keep the family functioning, until the surviving parent and/or other siblings have made it through this period of grieving.

When this is happening it is in the child’s best interest that their parent work on their own grieving.

To urge the child to grieve at this point is setting him/her up for an emotionally unsafe situation and could complicate the grieving process.

Sometimes the child is afraid to grieve.

On one hand, you can feel out of control when you’re grieving, and that can be scary.

On the other hand grieving brings about a sense of finality to a death.

There is an irrational belief that if you can hold off the feelings of grief, the deceased isn’t 100% dead.

With these issues in mind, here are a few suggestions for the surviving parent:

1) Tend to your own grieving process
2) try to re-establish the security of routines as soon as possible
3) acknowledge the death by mentioning it matter-of factly whenever appropriate, and
4) help the child re-define the relationship with the deceased parent,

i.e., “This parent used to be a part of my everyday life.

There are some other thing you can do as well. Visiting the grave as a family helps demonstrate the finality of the deceased as well as giving a place to connect with them.

Doing things to commemorate the diseased can also be helpful like making a small “shrine” on the mantle or naming a star after someone who has just passed.

Now this parent can be acknowledged for the role he/she played in my younger days and can remain a fond memory and inspiration.”

This can be done by reminiscing, putting together a photo album, celebrating the parent’s birthday, etc.

Grief Myths and Facts

MYTH: Children do not grieve.greif

Children of all ages grieve. The child’s development and experiences affects the grieving process.

MYTH: The death of a loved one is the only major loss children and adolescents experience. 

Young people experience a variety of losses. These include losses of pets, separations caused by divorce or relocations, losses of friends and relationships, as well as losses due to illness or death. All of these losses generate grief.

MYTH: Children should be shielded from loss.

It’s impossible to protect children from loss. Adults can teach ways of adapting to loss by including young people in the grieving process.

MYTH: Children should not go to funerals. / Children should always attend funerals.

Allow young people to make their own choice. They should decide how they wish to participate in funerals or other services. Adults must provide information, options and support.

MYTH: Children get over loss quickly.

No one gets over significant loss. Children, like adults, will learn to live with the loss. They may revisit that loss at different points in their lives and experience grief again.

MYTH: Children are permanently scarred by loss.

Children are resilient. By providing solid support and strong consistent care, adults can help children cope with loss.

MYTH: Talking with children and adolescents is the most effective approach in dealing with loss. 

Different approaches are helpful to young people. It’s important to talk openly with children and adolescents; it’s also helpful to let young people use creative approaches. Play, art, dance, music, and ritual are all valuable modes of expression that allow them to say what words cannot.

MYTH: Helping children and adolescents deal with loss is the family’s responsibility.

Other individuals and organizations can share this responsibility. Hospices, schools, and faith communities can all offer necessary support.