Catholic Church

Grief Support

Grief Brief #24

Losing a loved one to death is always a difficult experience for family members, acquaintances, and friends. There is a large measure of sadness in the hearts and lives of those who will be grieving. The Funeral Mass, a Memorial Service, or a Celebration of Life Event can help, all who have lost someone, to honor and remember those persons, as they mourn.

A very ardent wish of those losing a loved one to death is to be present as their person leaves this present life. Being able to say words of assurance as well as farewells, being able to pray or even to sing as one gathers near the dying person is desired by so many. Some would choose to hold the hand or give a last hug or kiss to their dying loved one. Words of assurance and support that are offered by a priest, minister, or a member of the Pastoral Care Team in a given facility are so comforting to all present around the death bed.

We are all aware of the terrible virus that has invaded our world. Life is so very different as the pandemic rages. Hundreds and thousands of persons around the world are stricken by this cruel virus. They have been separated from loved ones and remain in the critical care settings of hospitals or are quarantined in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, or Group Living Facilities. There have been strict isolation procedures put in place for all who struggle with the illness. Families are being asked to quarantine themselves and to shelter in place. The facilities housing the ill are “off limits” to them.

We know all too well that many of the persons struggling with Corona Virus (Covid -19) will die, and that is in large numbers. Death, in the many facilities where they are cared for by heroic doctors, nurses, and other dedicated health care workers, will not include the presence of the beloved family members or friends. How very different this death experience is from what we spoke of earlier. Because of the lethality of this virus only health care givers have contact with the sick patients. Death, for the most part, occurs with loved ones learning of it after it has occurred. Health care providers try to convey this news in a compassionate manner, but it is little comfort to loved ones who have been blocked from gathering around the bedside.

When we consider this scenario, we realize how very different the experience of death and grief is for those who have lost their loved ones in such tragic circumstances. Will their grieving not be much more difficult? Grieve they will, and grieve they must, but a large measure of caring and compassion must be there for them. Under the present situation, and due to staggering numbers of deaths, funeral services and burials are often postponed for a later time.

As we remember with deep gratitude the front line caregivers who render heroic services to our loved ones, we also lift up our hearts in prayer for the many families who are forced to face their losses under these dire circumstances.

Grief Brief #23

I thought it most appropriate at this time to address the personal, emotional impact the present pandemic has had upon us. The focus in this Grief Brief will be upon the very strong feelings it has stirred up in each of us.

We may have had a personal loss before our country was stricken with this major health crisis. Perhaps there may have been losses of friends, acquaintances, or family members who have died presently from the virus. This has, no doubt, caused great sadness, especially if we had not yet healed from a grief experience that occurred in the past. Adding to this, we may have come to know renewed sadness, a deeper sense of loss, and perhaps anger over all that is transpiring.

We look now at these feelings and how we can adequately cope with them. First and foremost, our deep sadness or renewed sadness is very real. We have lost and may continue to be losing persons known and dear to us. We can’t deny the sorrow that has arisen within us. Having some means to communicate this sadness is important. If we are fortunate to have compassionate, trusting persons in our lives we can certainly talk about these sad, troubling feelings. Talking can relieve the burden of strong feelings over time. Listeners who are accepting of the deep feelings that a person is experiencing and can provide the comfort of a caring and listening heart will offer a true gift. We talk as much and as often as we need to and don’t deny how difficult life has become for us.

For those who are less connected with others there is always the choice of writing out one’s feelings. Journaling, as much or as little as needed to bring relief from stored feelings, is always helpful. Talking, as well as writing might be a need for some. The important thing is that once expressed, these pent up feelings are liberated, at least for a while, from saddened and hurting hearts and minds. These feelings are much too strong to deny. Many will turn to their God to communicate what they are experiencing and to receive the needed strength to go on.

Anger over what has occurred and is still occurring can easily accompany the sadness we feel. Anger arises easily when we realize how our lives have been radically changed. Life, as we know it, now seems to have placed unbelievable burdens upon families, friends, and people, in general. Life is filled with unfair circumstances caused by the relentless virus.

As we consider the many angry feelings that well up within us, we are led to question the meaning of it all. How have our lives been changed? How has our world changed? Can there be any positive outcomes from this experience? What is next for our lives?

The outpouring of care and concern for the afflicted is duly noted by all. The concern of those providing care so tirelessly touches the hearts of all who witness it, calling forth depths of gratitude. Efforts to reach out and help, where needed, are visible and are increasing each day. Finding meaning in it all, as already mentioned, and recognizing the many efforts in place to mediate the situation, leads us to do some very deep thinking.

But what about the anger? Will it go away on its own? Taking measures to alleviate it through positive means are so necessary. Once again, talking out the many causes of our anger, or writing them out is helpful. When blaming, criticizing, or questioning take precedence these can lead us to a very unsatisfying and unhealthy place. Taking care of oneself in whatever ways that will keep us strong in body and spirit is paramount. Reaching out to help others in any ways that are possible, will provide an avenue for dissipating sadness, anger, or whatever feelings that might be troubling us. Crying out to the God we know, much as the psalmists and prophets of old have done, can help as well.

Being able to survive these devastating circumstances by taking the measures that will keep us well, balanced, and emotionally strong will undoubtedly bring us to the place where we might choose to be.

One of the many difficult tasks in the grieving process is knowing when and how to dispose of the clothing and personal objects of a deceased loved one.  The rule of thumb is that this should not be undertaken until the grieving person is ready to do so.  Of course, circumstances may dictate that this be done immediately.

If at all possible, the process of sorting, designating, and donating should not be undertaken alone by the griever.  Dealing with clothing and personal objects of the deceased, some of which are precious and bespeak the person’s life pursuits and achievements, can be very difficult to do.  However, disposing of medical equipment and supplies is the first undertaking and requires decisions that are less emotionally draining.  Having caring others to assist with the sorting and disposal of the more personal items is often quite necessary.  The grieving person must select well who it is that will do the assisting and must make quite clear who is the ultimate decision-maker.

Having family members or friends come in and sweep away every item, some of which hold precious memories of the deceased, is not the wisest decision.  With this speedy process the grieving person can have memories of the past, packed with many special experiences,  taken away prematurely.  On days when the grieving person is particularly sad and really missing the deceased person having a piece of clothing or an object to look at or hold can be quite comforting to the grieving heart.  When this happens memories of past shared experiences can emerge, the deceased can feel closer, and feelings of joy can resonate within the soul.

In sorting objects that are memory-packed, but no longer needed, it is helpful to consider who among the relatives, friends, and acquaintances of the deceased could utilize, as well as treasure, any items offered for their personal use.  This would certainly delight the deceased person, as well as the recipients.  It becomes evident, however, that some things are destined for the dumpster or for some charity.  Choosing carefully which charity will benefit from the donation and use the contents well is always a consideration.  It is evident  that there are many needy recipients in our society.

There is one more important last point that bears mention.  Among all of the things that are being handled and processed by the grieving person there are some items that hold special value, as well as special memories.  These need to be kept for as long as desired.  In time, some will be eliminated or given away, but there will always be some that are kept until the last days that the grieving person spends on this earth.  And so it should be!

In this grief note we will look at the topic of writing  out some of our grief experiences as our grief work proceeds.  Many grief authors refer to this as keeping a grief journal.  Some people believe that they cannot write with any degree of ease, especially while they are grieving.  This sounds like a difficult undertaking, butit is a very profitable one that is also personally rewarding.


Some are convinced that writing requires too much time and energy. While one is grieving much emotional energy is needed to grieve, heal, and progress through the grief process.  Therefore, the idea of writing about one’s personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences is unappealing and considered too hard to undertake.


To begin the writing process one simply needs a writing instrument (pen or pencil) and a writing tablet.  A fancy book for journaling is not a must.  Setting aside time to jot down the thoughts, feelings, and personal experiences one is having is also necessary.  There is no mandate that one make entries on a daily basis, although this may be helpful. Simply putting on paper experiences or concerns as they occur can be beneficial.  One chooses the time to do this – the morning hours or in the evening.  Whenever serves one’s needs.


Thoughts, concerns, or worries  that are not given attention swirl about in the mind, picking up momentum along the way.  They easily emerge at night, thus robbing one of a peaceful rest, so needed by the weary body and the grief-stricken spirit. So, notations made on an “as needed” basis or even daily can prevent disruptive sleep from happening and can ease the mind.


As already mentioned, there are benefits to  writing while grieving.  These are a few of them:

 one’s mind can become freed of sad, troubling issues
 it provides one with an indication of how well one’s passage through the grieving process is proceeding
 writing is a perfect means of expression, especially if one’s support system is meager or absent
 writing provides the opportunity to explore personal or private matters that one is not  ready to share with others
 one receives a measure of one’s progress (or lack of) that has occurred since the time of one’s loss
 a clarification of troubling issues that need resolution can  occur, warranting an exploration of a troubled relationship, the need for forgiveness, and other “unfinished business”


With all of these benefits in mind, it would seem wise to give writing or journaling a try.  It is a valuable tool for many grieving persons.  The two essential requirements are allotting the time and expending the needed energy to accomplish the undertaking.



As we move through the holidays this year, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and New Years, my hope, prayer, and wishes are that you, the readers of this message, have been able to capture the essence of the season.  With the support and caring of friends and family, persons who are grieving can experience the joy of the holidays.


Some important things to remember about holiday celebrations are reviewed at this time.

 Where someone is in their grieving process will certainly affect how he or she will experience the various occasions.  Those in the early phase of their loss (the first 5 months or so) can let each holiday pass them by without engaging in too much celebrating.  During the mid grieving point  holidays can receive a half-hearted reception.  When the healing that grief provides has come, in a later point of grief, the festivities are more easily accepted and celebrated. 


 The process of facing a significant loss, as any grieving person knows, can consume a lot of personal energy.  Therefore, simplifying holiday celebrations is a must.


 Planning one’s celebrations in collaboration with family members and friends can more easily guarantee happy times and some real joy as each significant day comes and passes.


 Accepting the efforts of others, with reasonable but marginal contributions on the part of the grieving person, can  bring about, as well as honor, some of the traditions of the past.


And so, open your hearts to the joy and meaning of the season.  Doing what feels right in your heart can bring you the wonders of these special days, as they come one by one.


Breve de Duelo #20

A medida que avanzamos a través de las vacaciones de este año, incluyendo-Navidad, Hanukkah, Kwanza, y Año Nuevo, mi esperanza, oración y deseo es que ustedes, leyentes de este mensaje, hayan podido captar  la esencia de la temporada. Con el apoyo y la atención de amigos y familiares, las personas que están de duelo pueden experimentar la alegría de las vacaciones. Algunas cosas importantes para recordar acerca de las celebraciones de vacaciones se revisan en este momento.

  • El hecho de que alguien se encuentre en su proceso de duelo afectará la forma en que experimentará las diversas ocasiones. Aquellos en la fase temprana de su pérdida (los primeros 5 meses aproximadamente) pueden dejar pasar cada día festivo sin tener que celebrar demasiado. Durante el punto medio de duelo, los días festivos pueden recibir una recepción poco entusiastas. Cuando la curación que proporciona la aflicción llega, en un punto posterior de aflicción, las festividades son más fácilmente aceptadas y celebradas.
  • El proceso de enfrentar una pérdida significativa, como sabe cualquier persona afligida, puede consumir mucha energía personal. Por lo tanto, simplificar las celebraciones de vacaciones es una necesidad.
  • Planear las celebraciones en colaboración con miembros de la familia y amigos puede garantizar más fácilmente momentos felices y un poco de alegría real a medida que cada día importante llega y pasa.
  • Aceptar los esfuerzos de otros, con contribuciones razonables pero marginales por parte de la persona afligida, puede provocar, además de honrar, algunas de las tradiciones del pasado.

Y así, abren sus corazónes a la alegría y el significado de la temporada. Hacer lo que se siente bien en tu corazón puede traerte las maravillas de estos días especiales, ya que vienen uno por uno


We begin this Grief Brief with the often asked question: “How long will this grieving last?” The simple response is that it will last for as long as is needed for each individual person.  People grieve for as long as it takes to heal from a very difficult life event – the loss of a loved one or some other significant loss.

The length of one’s grieving time depends on many factors.  Those who have accompanied a loved through a long illness, perhaps as the caregiver, have already done some of their grieving- but not all. They grieve for as long as is necessary after the death.  Sudden deaths, because they entail no time to prepare, may require that one experience grief for a  longer timeframe, depending upon circumstances.  Traumatic deaths from shootings, stabbings, suicides, accidents, natural disasters, drug overdoses, or the tragedies of war usually have an extended period of grieving because of the grave circumstances of the deaths. The nature of one’s relationship with the deceased will certainly impact grieving time, as well.

Waiting solely for time to pass will not bring about the healing from grief that is necessary or required to enable one to go on with his or her life in a meaningful manner.  Losses require grief work, and that is exactly what it is –work.  It is helpful to realize that grief work requires experiencing all of the feelings that the loss has stirred up.  Speaking to trusted others about one’s loss is helpful. Writing out one’s feelings helps as well.  Reminiscing about the time spent with the loved one, remembering that person on special occasions, and celebrating the life of the person in some special manner will all be a necessary part of the grief work that one does.

When considering time and grieving it is important to look at the phases of time – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  It is comforting initially to return to memories of the no-too-distant past, for it is there that the sad, but recent, memories of the loved  one  are.  Remaining in the sadness of the past can deepen one’s personal sadness.  It can perhaps lead to a period of depression which may exist for a longer period of time.

For grieving persons the future is a big unknown.  How life will unfold and progress is quite unclear.  Worrying about what will be or what could happen can easily lead to increased stress, fears, and anxiety. Projecting what the future will bring,  too early in grief,  is not helpful.

The present is the best place where one can direct one’s attention and energy. The benefits to one’s well-being will thus be significant. Focusing on what is now, as opposed to what was or will be, can aid the grieving person to face life events one day at a time. This can insure a smoother and more effective passage through one’s grief journey.

A good suggestion might be to visit the past for briefer time periods as grieving progresses.  Trying to project future outcomes for one’s life too soon, can deepen one’s anxiety about “moving on”. The present ,therefore, is the time frame into which one can place one’s efforts at survival, healing, and growth. Stay there, for it is where your heart dictates that you should remain.



Breve de Duelo #19: Cuanto Tiempo Va Durar este Duelo?- Comenzamos este Resumen de duelo con la pregunta que se hace a menudo: “¿Cuánto tiempo durará este duelo?” La respuesta simple es que durará todo el tiempo que sea necesario para cada persona. Las personas se afligen por el tiempo que lleva curarse de un evento de la vida muy difícil: la pérdida de un ser querido o alguna otra pérdida significativa. La duración del tiempo de duelo depende de muchos factores. Aquellos que han acompañado a un ser querido a través de una larga enfermedad, tal vez como cuidador, ya han hecho parte de su dolor, pero no todos. Se afligen durante el tiempo que sea necesario después de la muerte. Las muertes repentinas, debido a que no requieren tiempo para prepararse, pueden requerir que uno experimente el dolor durante un período de tiempo más prolongado, según las circunstancias. Las muertes traumáticas por disparos, apuñalamientos, suicidios, accidentes, desastres naturales, sobredosis de drogas o las tragedias de ;a guerra suelen tener un período prolongado de duelo debido a las graves circunstancias de las muertes. La naturaleza de la relación de uno con el difunto ciertamente también afectara el tiempo de duelo. Esperar únicamente para que pase el tiempo no provocará la curación de la pena que es necesaria o requerida para permitirle a uno continuar con su vida de una manera significativa. Las pérdidas requieren un trabajo de duelo, y eso es exactamente lo que es: el trabajo. Es útil darse cuenta de que el trabajo de duelo requiere experimentar todos los sentimientos que ha despertado la pérdida. Hablar con otros sobre la perdida de uno es útil. Escribir los sentimientos de uno también ayuda. Recordar el tiempo que paso con el ser querido, recordar a esa persona en ocasiones especiales y celebrar la vida de la persona de laguna manera especial será una parte necesaria del trabajo de duelo que uno hace. Cuando se considera el tiempo y el dolor, es importante observar las fases del tiempo: ayer, hoy, y mañana. Inicialmente, es reconfortante volver a los recuerdos del pasado no muy lejano, porque es allí donde se encuentran los recuerdos tristes, pero recientes, de la persona amada. Permanecer en la tristeza del pasado puede profundizar la tristeza personal. Tal vez puede conducir a un período de depresión que puede existir durante un período de tiempo más largo. Para las personas en duelo el futuro es una gran incógnita. ¿Cómo se desarrollará la vida y el progreso es bastante claro. Preocuparse por lo que será o lo que podría suceder puede conducir fácilmente a un aumento del estrés, los temores y la ansiedad. Proyectar lo que el futuro traerá, demasiado temprano en el dolor, no es útil. El presente es el mejor lugar donde uno puede dirigir su atención y energía. Los beneficios para el bienestar de uno serán, por lo tanto, significativos. Centrarse en lo que es ahora, a diferencia de lo que fue o será, puede ayudar a la persona afligida a enfrentar los eventos de la vida de un día a la vez. Esto puede asegurar un paso más suave y efectivo a través del viaje de la pena. Una buena sugerencia podría ser visitar el pasado por períodos de tiempo más breves a medida que avanza la aflicción. Tratar de proyectar resultados futuros para la vida de uno demasiado pronto, puede profundizar la ansiedad de uno sobre “seguir adelante”. El presente, por lo tanto, es el marco de tiempo en el que uno puede ubicar sus esfuerzos de supervivencia, curación y crecimiento. Quédate allí, porque es donde tu corazón dicta que debes permanecer.




As we explore sadness, depression, and grief, we who are grieving have come to know the pervasiveness of sadness within the grief journey.  It is sometimes hard to believe that the intense feelings of absence, aloneness, and missing will ever lighten.  What we do with these feelings is important.

Sadness is felt more strongly during the early months of grieving  quite often, if not daily.  Equating one’s degree of sadness with the degree of love and affection one had for the person who is no longer tangibly with us, helps us to move more easily through the depth of the sadness.  Choosing to remain in the sadness for long periods of time can easily lead to a depression known to some grievers.  They will visit and revisit their feelings of sadness, missing, and aloneness in order to feel closer to the person they have lost.  As mentioned, remaining there is not helpful.  Some feel it is a way to never forget the person lost. The truth is that forgetting persons with whom  we have shared days, months, and years of our lives does not easily happen.

There will always be occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or special family events when remembering with sadness will be felt.  The consoling reality is that, in time, the sadness will lighten, as it should.

However, when the sadness, related to the losses we have faced, remains intense for long periods of time (weeks or months) it can incapacitate a person physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Then depression has truly set in, that is the depression of grief.  In situations like this the grieving persons will not freely admit to the degree of depression they are experiencing, but it may become evident to those with whom they live.  In such circumstances there is a  need for professional help.  Medications, personal counseling, the support of a trusted friend or mentor, as well as a grief support group can be helpful.  These interventions can prevent the grieving person from sinking more deeply into his or her sorrow, depression, or despair.

M any grieving persons are wary of taking medications like anti-depressants, sleep medications, anti-anxiety pills, etc. for fear of becoming dependent upon them, as can happen.  Knowing that medications  can help to take the edge off of the overpowering feelings being felt can ease the fears of addiction.  It is important to realize that as the intense feelings lessen  so will the need for the medications also lessen.

In truth, as helpful as medications can, be they can dampen the many feelings that accompany  the grief process.  Feelings like anger, guilt, regret, unforgiveness, and depression do need to be looked at, internally processed, and talked about with a trusted other so we can let them go.  Blocking  feelings   for too long with many medications, denial, or even over-activity will certainly interfere with the healing that grief work can bring.

So, in conclusion, know that we will be sad, or maybe even depressed over the loss of someone special in our lives.  Remaining in the sadness or the depression of grief for too long is certainly not helpful to grieving persons.  Acquiring the assistance of a professional person can sometimes be needed.  Overall, sadness is much a part of grieving a loss because we realize that we have lost someone that we have truly loved.


Breve de Duelo #17

A medida que exploramos la tristeza, la depresión y el dolor, los que sufrimos hemos llegado a conocer la omnipresencia de la tristeza en el camino de dolor. A veces es difícil creer que los intensos sentimientos de ausencia, soledad y falta de ausencia, soledad y lata de alguna vez se aclararán. Lo que hacemos con estos sentimientos es importante. La tristeza se siente con más fuerza durante los primeros meses de duelo con bastante frecuencia, si no todos los días. Al equiparar el grado de tristeza de uno con el grado de amor y afecto que uno siente por las persona que ya no es tangible con nosotros, nos ayuda a movernos más fácilmente a través de la tristeza. La elección de permanecer en la tristeza durante largos periodos de tiempo puede llevar fácilmente a una depresión conocida por algunos quejarse. Visitarán y volverán a sus sentimientos de tristeza, falta y soledad para sentirse más cerca de la persona que han perdido. Como se mencionó, permanecer allí no es útil. Algunos sienten que es forma de nunca olvidar a la persona perdida. La verdad es que olvidar a la personas que quienes compartimos días, meses y años de nuestras vidas no sucede fácilmente. Siempre habrá ocasiones como cumpleaños, aniversarios o eventos familiares especiales cuando se sentirá el recuerdo con tristeza. La realidad consoladora es que, con el tiempo, la tristeza se aligerara, como debe ser.  Sin embargo, cuando la tristeza, relacionada con las pérdidas que hemos enfrentado, permanece intensa durante largos períodos de tiempo (semanas o meses), puede incapacitar a una persona físicamente, emocional, espiritualmente y socialmente. Entonces la depresión realmente se ha establecido, esa es la depresión del dolor. En situaciones como esta, las personas afligidas no admitirán libremente el grado de depresión que experimentan, pero puede ser evidente para las personas con quienes viven. En tales circunstancias se necesita ayuda profesional. Los medicamentos, el asesoramiento personal, el apoyo de un amigo o mentor de confianza, así como  un grupo de apoyo para el duelo pueden ser útiles. Estas intervenciones pueden evitar que la persona afligida se hunda más profundamente en su dolor, depresión o desesperación. Muchas personas afligidas temen tomar medicamentos como los antidepresivos, los medicamentos para dormir, las pastillas contra la ansiedad, etc., por temor a volverse dependientes de ellos, como puede suceder. Saber que los medicamentos pueden ayudar a eliminar los sentimientos abrumadores que se sienten puede aliviar los temores de la adicción. Es importante darse cuneta de que a medida que disminuyen los sentimientos intensos, también disminuirá la necesidad de medicamentos.  En verdad, tan útiles como pueden ser los medicamentos, pueden amortiguar los muchos sentimientos que acompañan el proceso de duelo. Los sentimientos como la ira, la culpa, el arrepentimiento, la falta de perdón y la depresión deben ser examinados, procesados ​​internamente y discutidos con alguien de confianza para que podamos dejarlos ir. Bloquear los sentimientos durante demasiado tiempo con muchos medicamentos, rechazo o incluso actividad excesiva sin duda interferirá con la curación que puede traer el trabajo de la pena. Entonces, para concluir, sepa que estaremos tristes, o tal vez incluso deprimidos por la pérdida de alguien especial en nuestras vidas. Permanecer en la tristeza o la depresión de la pena durante mucho tiempo ciertamente no es útil para las personas en duelo. La adquisición de la asistencia de una persona profesional a veces puede ser necesaria. En general, la tristeza es una parte importante de la pérdida de un duelo porque nos damos cuenta de que hemos perdido a alguien a quien realmente amamos.



Grief Brief # 16 

As we begin a new grief message this month our focus will be on how children face losses and  how they express their grief.

A number of people believe that babies and small children are unaware of a loss that occurs within a family.  This is not totally true.  Although they don’t understand the concept of death and the loss that ensues, they do sense that something is amiss.  Their parents and others are sad , and perhaps weeping. They can easily respond to this with clinging and restless behavior.

As children enter the 2-6 year age ranges they can easily sense the absence of someone loved. They are no longer there within the family or at gatherings.  They ask about the person or wait for them to be present once again.  There are lots of questions that await answers on their part.  They can be told that their special person had become tired, weakened, or ill and has died.  They have left the family and friends for a place of rest, peace, and happiness.  Children brought up in a Christian home are told that heaven in that special place.  God is there, and other deceased family members are there .  Their dear ones are all happy and well.  It is helpful to reassure children that at some point, as their lives end, they too will  be able to see and be with their special persons.  This can be comforting to children.

It can be noted that parents who receive the many questions about loss and death may not be able to respond adequately to the questions asked by children.  They may be heavily grieving.  In which case, adult family members can offer to provide the requested information.  The language needs to be simple and offered in the easiest manner possible so that responses to questions are understood.  Linking sadness and others feelings of loss to the explanations being given will help children to more easily accept the feelings that they are experiencing.  It might be noted that when children grieve, they do so in shorter time periods.  They may ask their questions, express their sad feelings , and then be off to do a favorite activity.  How different from the sustained periods of grieving that adults experience!

Adolescents, who are experiencing losses of family members or friends, react in a totally different manner.  They grieve, but their grief expressions may be deeply internal or very overt.  There can be  enraged or have a sense of unfairness about the death, especially if it was traumatic, or perhaps marked by suicide.  Grief Counselors  in the school setting and anguished parents make every effort to reach out and provide comfort.  Teens, however, readily turn to peers to express their feelings of loss.

The behavior of teens may express an acting out of their sense of dismay at loosing someone close to them.  Behaviors may become reckless, explosive, or repressed by silence and a lack of communication.  Adults can offer their presence, caring, and any signs of comfort at this difficult time.  Group activities like candlelight vigils or memorial gatherings are helpful, as are offers of individual counseling by professional persons.

As can be seen, expressions of grief, related to losses experienced, will vary with the age groups of children.  The support of caring adults, simple answers  to questions, and the opportunity to express sad feelings in safe and sincere manners will always be helpful to children, as well as teens.  Participating in memorial services and funerals will help to heal  grieving hearts in significant ways.  Having children participate in these rituals that mark the passage from life to death can bring healing to them, especially if they are prepared for the experience by loving and caring adults.


Breve de Duelo #16

Como Enfrentan los Niños las Pérdidas y Como Expresan su Dolor

AL comenzar un nuevo mensaje de duelo este mes, nuestro enfoque estará en como los niños enfrentan las pérdidas y cómo expresan su dolor. Algunas personas creen que los bebés y los niños pequeños no son consientes de una pérdida que se produce dentro de una familia. Esto no es totalmente cierto. Aunque  no entienden el concepto de muerte y la pérdida que se produce, sí tienen la sensación de que algo anda mal. Sus padres y los demás están tristes, y tal vez llorando. Ellos pueden responder fácilmente a esto con un comportamiento apegado e inquieto. Cuando los niños entran en el rango de edad de 2 a 6 años, pueden sentir fácilmente la ausencia de alguien amado. Ya no están allí dentro de la familia o en reuniones. Preguntan por la persona o esperan que vuelvan a estar presentes. Hay muchas preguntas que esperan respuestas de su parte. Se les puede decir que su persona especial se había cansado, debilitado o enfermo y que ha muerto. Han dejando a la familia y amigos por un lugar de descanso, paz y felicidad. A los niños criados en un hogar cristiano se les dice que el cielo en ese lugar especial. Dios está allí, y otros miembros de la familia fallecidos están allí. Sus seres queridos están todos felices y bien. Es útil asegurar a los niños que en algún momento, al terminar sus vidas, ellos también podrán ver y estar con sus personas especiales. Esto puede ser reconfortante para los niños.Se puede observar que los padres que reciben muchas preguntas sobre la pérdida y la muerte pueden no ser capaces de responder adecuadamente a las preguntas de los niños. Pueden estar muy afligidos. En cuyo caso, los miembros adultos de la familia pueden ofrecer proporcionar la información solicitada. El lenguaje debe ser simple y ofrecido de la manera más fácil posible para que se entiendan las respuestas a las preguntas. Relacionar la tristeza y otros sentimientos de pérdida con las explicaciones que se dan ayudará a los niños a aceptar más fácilmente los sentimientos que están experimentando. Cabe señalar que cuando los niños se afligen, lo hacen en períodos de tiempo más cortos. Pueden hacer sus preguntas, expresar sus tristes sentimientos y luego irse a hacer una actividad favorita. ¡Qué diferente de los períodos sostenidos de duelo que experimentan los adultos! Los adolecentes, que están experimentando pérdidas de familiares o amigos, reaccionan de una manera totalmente diferente. Se afligen, pero sus expresiones de dolor pueden ser profundamente internas o muy abiertas. Se puede enfurecer o tener una sensación de injusticia con respecto a la muerte, especialmente si fue traumática, o tal vez marcada por el suicidio. Los consejeros de duelo en el ambiente escolar y los padres angustiados hacen todo lo posible por ayudar y brindar consuelo. Los adolescentes, sin embargo, se vuelven fácilmente hacia sus compañeros para expresar sus sentimientos de pérdida. El comportamiento de los adolescentes puede expresar un sentimiento de consternación al perder a alguien cercano a ellos. Los comportamientos pueden volverse imprudentes, explosivos o reprimidos por el silencio y la falta de comunicación. Los adultos pueden ofrecer su presencia, cuidado y cualquier señal de comodidad en este momento difícil. Las actividades grupales como las vigilias a la luz de las velas o las reuniones conmemorativas son útiles, al igual que las ofertas de asesoramiento individual por parte de profesionales. Como se puede ver, las expresiones de dolor, relacionadas con las pérdidas experimentadas, variarán con los grupos de edad de los niños. El apoyo de adultos comprensivos, las respuestas simples a las preguntas y la oportunidad de expresar sentimientos tristes de manera segura y sincera siempre serán útiles para los niños, así como para los adolescentes. Participar en servicios conmemorativos y funerales ayudará a sanar los corazones en duelo de manera significativa. Hacer que los niños participen en estos rituales que marcan el paso de la vida a la muerte puede traerles sanidad, especialmente si están preparados para la experiencia de amar y cuidar a los adultos.

Now that the Thanksgiving holidays are upon us, we are drawn by a spirit of gratitude that speaks to us.  Too often, however, we look around at our world and our lives, and foremost in our minds is not that which is enriching us and bringing us joy, but rather at that which we have lost.  Someone significant to us will not be at our Thanksgiving dinner table.  The gathering of family for the holiday weekend makes us keenly aware of the fact that someone very special will be absent for all of the sharing and fun that holiday get-togethers can bring.

We do have a choice about how we can keep the memory of our deceased loved ones alive and with us. This may entail including the missing persons, by name, in our blessing before the Thanksgiving meal.  In the toast that may be a part of our meal, the names of our loved ones might also be mentioned.  Sharing stories of holidays past will most assuredly have those who are gathered remembering and recalling memories that inevitably include the absent loved ones.  These are both memorable, as well as humorous.  Before very long, our loved ones’ stories and anecdotes are a part of the conversation.  Somber or cautious feelings lighten significantly. Those who have been trying to avoid their own sadness or tears, as well as fearing to provoke sadness in others, may soon be laughing and smiling as everyone shares and reminisces.

It does take a bit of courage to start such sharing, and thus it requires the bravest among us to be the initiators.  It is good to recognize that the positive results of the endeavor far  outweigh any negative or foreboding feelings one may have in being the “initiator”.  I would encourage any or all of the practices that were just suggested because I know that they work.

As indicated earlier, the Thanksgiving holidays invite us to be thankful.  Taking some quiet time to consider how the special persons who were a part of our lives have enriched them is important.  We have been graced by their presence for varying numbers of years.  During that time the memories of who they were for us remain.  We remember that they had qualities that we have always admired and would choose to emulate in our own lives.  We take the time to thank them for having brought the gift of themselves into our world and into our personal lives.

Thankfulness for those who still remain with us is also very much in order.  We share love and support with each other as we gather on special occasions like the holidays.  We acknowledge that we are able to heal and move forward in our grief journey because of the love and support of these dear persons.

May our good and gracious God shower His blessings upon each of us as we experience this holiday and the next ones that will soon follow.


Breve de Duelo #14

Ahora que se acercan las vacaciones de Acción de Gracias, nos atrae un espíritu de gratitud que nos habla. Con demasiada frecuencia, sin embargo, observamos nuestro mundo y nuestras mentes no es lo que nos enriquece y nos brinda alegría, sino lo que hemos perdido. Alguien importante para nosotros no estará en nuestra mesa de cena de Acción de Gracias. La reunión de la familia para el fin de semana festivo nos hace muy conscientes del hecho de que una persona muy especial estará ausente para compartir y divertirse con las reuniones que se pueden traer. Tenemos una opción sobre como mantener vivo y con nosotros la memoria de nuestros seres fallecidos. Esto puede implicar  sobre cómo mantener vivo y con nosotros la memoria de nuestros seres queridos. Estos son tanto memorables, como humorísticos. En poco tiempo, las historias y anécdotas de nuestros seres queridos forman parte de la conversación. Los sentimientos sombríos o cautelosos se aligeran significativamente. Aquellos que ha estado tratando de evitar su propia tristeza o lágrimas, además de temer provocar tristeza en los demás, pronto se reirán y sonreirán cuando todos compartan y recuerden.  Se necesita un poco de valor para comenzar a compartir, y por lo tanto requiere que los más valientes entre nosotros sean los indicadores. Es bueno reconocer que los resultados positivos del esfuerzo superan con creces cualquier sentimiento negativo o premonitorio que uno pueda tener al ser el “iniciador”. Recomendaría cualquiera o todas las prácticas que se sugirieron simplemente porque sé que funcionan. Como se indicó anteriormente, las vacaciones de Acción de Gracias nos invitan a estar agradecidos. Tomarse un momento de tranquilidad para considerar cómo las personas especiales que fueron parte de nuestras vidas las han enriquecido, es importante. Hemos estado agradecidos por su presencia durante varios años. Durante ese tiempo los recuerdos de quienes fueron para nosotros permanecen. Recordamos que tenían cualidades que siempre hemos admirado y elegiríamos emular en nuestras propias vidas. Nos tomamos el tiempo para agradecerles por haber traído el regalo de ellos mismos a nuestros mundo y a nuestra vidas personales. El agradecimiento para aquellos que aún permanecen con nosotros también está muy en orden. Compartimos el amor y el apoyo entre nosotros cuando nos reunimos en ocasiones especiales como las vacaciones. Reconocemos que somos capaces de sanar y avanzar en nuestro viaje de duelo por el amor y el apoyo de estas personas queridas. Que nuestro Dios bueno y bondadoso derrame Sus bendiciones sobre cada uno de nosotros al experimentar este día festivo y los  próximos que vendrán pronto.

As we share this Grief Brief (#13), we will look at the concept of change. Grief and the healing it brings will cause our hearts, minds, and souls to change with the changes that can aid us in moving forward with our lives.
Most people, especially those in the middle and latter phases of life, would prefer stability without a lot of change. They seek the “tried and tested” as opposed to innovation. When we grieve, however, change is imposed upon our lives. This occurs not in radical ways that diminish who we are, but in ways that develop new aspects of our person and lives.

Many authors who write about grief, loss, and the grieving process refer to the term “the new normal” which points to the adulterations that grief imposes and must be slowly accepted. As we describe these we learn:

• Grieving requires that a person look at one’s attitude each day that grief is unfolding. Beginning a given day with an attitude of pessimism sets the tone for the whole day. When one is convinced that nothing will go well and that sadness will pervade the whole day, that is exactly how things will play out. Questioning how one can go on without that special person makes going forward more difficult. A special prayer, an inspiring quote, a bit of soft music, or a request to one’s Higher Power for strength can adjust a negative attitude to be a more hopeful one.

• Reviewing one’s priorities while grieving can also lead one to consider needed changes. Formerly, one’s job or status, one’s income and personal pursuits were the major focus, whereas in the world of grief these priorities become less important. What becomes important, however, is one’s faith or spirituality, one’s God, one’s close family, good friends who will support and listen, one’s health, and a life that will bring purpose and meaning once the healing of grief has occurred.

• Going through grief’s emotional pain, loneliness, and sadness provides the opportunity to grow in strength, wisdom, and new insights. When one undertakes what was considered difficult or impossible and succeeds self-confidence is sparked. Navigating through necessary paperwork, finances, garden and household chores decision-making, etc. can challenge feelings of ineptitude and bring a sense of achievement, as well as pride. One also changes and grows as one seeks to discover a sense of purpose and meaning for one’s life. As healing completes the major part of the grief process there is a sensed need to reach out in caring to others in a meaningful way. All of the new pursuits and changes in the lives of grieving people are exactly what their deceased loved ones would wish for them.

As this grief note concludes I would like to inform my readers of an up-coming “Pre-Holiday Workshop” that will be offered at St. Matthias school on the Saturday before Thanksgiving (10 AM – 12 Noon). The session will assist grieving persons to face the holiday season with some degree of ease and grace. All will be welcome to attend.


Breve de Duelo

El Duelo y el Concepto de Cambio

A medida que compartimos este Breve de Duelo (#13), veremos el concepto de cambo. El dolor y la sanación que trae hará que nuestros corazones, mentes y almas cambien con los cambios que pueden ayudarnos a seguir adelante con nuestras vidas. La mayoría de las personas, especialmente las que se encuentran en la fase media y posterior de la vida, preferían las estabilidad sin muchos cambios. Buscan lo “probado y comprobado” en contraposición a la innovación. Cunado nos lamentamos, sin embargo, el cambio se impone en nuestras vidas. Esto ocurre no en formas radicales que disminuyen lo que somos, sino en formas que desarrollan nuevos aspectos de nuestra persona y nuestras vidas. Muchos autores que escriben sobre el dolor, la pérdida y el proceso de duelo se refieren al término “la nueva normalidad”, que señala las adulteraciones que el dolor impone y deben aceptarse lentamente. A medida que describimos estos aprendemos:

  • La aflicción requiere que una persona mire la actitud de uno cada día en que se desarrolla la aflicción. Comenzar un día determinado con una actitud de pesimismo establece el tono para todo el día. Cuando uno está convencido de que nada saldrá bien y que la tristeza se extenderá durante todo el día, así es como se desarrollarán las cosas. Preguntar cómo se puede continuar sin esa persona especial hace que el avance sea más difícil. Una oración especial, una cita inspiradora, un poco de música suave o una solicitud al Poder Superior para que pueda fortalecerse puede ajustar una actitud negativa para que sea más esperanzadora.
  • Revisar las prioridades de uno mismo mientras está en duelo también puede llevar a uno a considerar los cambios necesarios. Anteriormente, el trabajo o el estado de uno, los ingresos y las actividades personales eran el foco principal, mientras que en el mundo del dolor estas prioridades se vuelven menos importantes. Sin embargo, lo que se vuelve importante es la fe o espiritualidad de uno, su Dios, su familia cercana, los buenos amigos que apoyarán y escucharán, la salud de uno y una vida que traerá un propósito y un significado una vez que haya ocurrido la curación del dolor.
  • Pasar por el dolor emocional, la soledad y la tristeza de la aflicción brinda la oportunidad de crecer en fortaleza, sabiduría y nuevos conocimientos. Cuando uno emprende lo que se consideraba difícil o imposible y tiene éxito, se genera autoconfianza. La navegación a través del papeleo necesario, las finanzas, las tareas del jardín y de la casa, la toma de decisiones, etc. puede desafiar los sentimientos de ineptitud y traer una sensación de logro, así como también orgullo. Uno también cambia y crece a medida que se busca descubrir un sentido de propósito y significado para la vida de uno. A medida que la curación completa la mayor parte del proceso de duelo, existe una necesidad percibida de llegar a cuidar a los demás de una manera significativa. Todas las nuevas actividades y cambios en la vida de las personas en duelo son exactamente lo que sus seres queridos fallecidos desearían para ellos.  

Al concluir esta nota de duelo, me gustaría informar a mis lectores sobre el próximo “Taller antes del día festivo” que se ofrecerá en la Academia de San Matías el Sábado antes del Día de Acción de Gracias (de 10:00AM a 12:00PM). La sesión ayudará a las personas afligidas a enfrentar la temporada festiva con cierta gracia y facilidad. Todos serán bienvenidos a asistir.

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