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July 2007

GRIEVING NOTES

By Linda Vigil

"THE CYCLES OF LIFE"

In the past week, I have had my 17-yr-old grandson on my mind. He is starting the breaking away behavior —mentioning college and moving out on his own, and it took me back to when he was 3-yrs-old.

At that time I had the feeling of being on a roller coaster! There were times when I had wondered if and when my road in life would ever level out again. I had started to visualize and experience 'Life's Cycles' and it's repetitiousness.

I was sitting in my daughter and son-in-law's home, reading to my three year old grandson, the book "Lifetimes" written by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen, a beautiful book about life and death. It explains how everything on this earth has it's lifetime, no matter how big or small —plants, animals, fish, human beings, we all have 'lifetimes.' Along with seasonal changes, illnesses and accidents, people may get sick, most people get well, but some are so sick, or so badly broken, they cannot get well and they die, that is their 'lifetime.'

I found myself trying desperately to prepare our beautiful grandson, so innocent, so trusting, about the beauty of life, 'The Beginning' and the sadness of life, 'The Ending.' For we were all losing a very special person.

Our son-in-law's father, our grandson's "grandpa," was dying of cancer. Our grandson worshiped his grandpa, he often referred to him as his 'Best Friend.' I found myself asking, "How do you make his pain more bearable?"

Grandpa Siefert passed away July 9, 1993. He is at peace, and our precious grandson is left with the pain of missing his 'Best Friend' and not being able to shut the door to his bedroom, not letting grandpa out or anyone else come in, so they could play and talk. This was Grandpa Siefert's Lifetime.

The pain of his death is shared by those left behind, a loving wife who never left his side, a devoted son and daughter-in-law, a daughter, brothers, sisters and friends. Al and I were again touched by the loss of someone very dear to us. Each person tries to handle their loss and pain, in their own way, each of us looking at our own mortality, each of us remembering with pain, sorrow, and joy the true gift he was in each of our lives!

For me it brought new pain of another loss. But not one minute would I have given up having known him, for he was a true gift. I am left with cherished memories of our beautiful holidays, weddings, —yes even funerals! My pain again, brought up my loss of our daughter, Mia. I started remembering the horrible pain you feel at the very beginning of a loss, wanting so badly to help Grandma Siefert, wanting to help her put that pain behind her.

There is no way out! There is only one way and that is her way in her own good time.

In "Sharing & Healing" it was now my turn to listen and to extend a special helping hand in this experience of "The Cycles of Life."


CHILDREN, GRIEF AND GROWTH
By Yvonne Gillis

Seven-year old Freddie's father has died. Freddies's mother wants to help him grasp the reality of his father's death, so she encourages him to attend the funeral and walk up to the casket to say good-bye to Daddy. Freddie touches his father's hand and the skin feels cold.

In the months that follow, Freddie will not take off his jacket, even in the summer heat. Nobody can figure out why Freddie insists on wearing the coat. Finally, his mother takes him in for therapy and it is revealed that the child thinks that if he stays warm, he will not die.

When children lose a parent through death, the grieving process is different for them than it is for adults. Their cognitive processes have not matured yet and they are not capable of dealing with their feelings. They do not get depressed in the same way as adults do, but rather dip in and out of a gloomy state. They grieve in bits and pieces. They do not understand psychosomatic symptoms —they may misinterpret an earache or stomach-ache as an illness that will kill them. They want to get back to school right away and play with their friends and have adults stop treating them differently.

When a child does not show any of the typical signs of grieving, such as crying, adults may think she is callous and did not care about the deceased parent, and therefore does not need support. That sort of reaction can be harmful to a child. If she is not allowed to grieve or is not guided through the grief process, an emotional scar can develop and cause long-term emotional instability, such as chronic depression, other psychological disorders, and drug abuse.

If your child has lost a loved one, or if you know a child who has experienced a death in the family, it is important to help her understand the loss and answer her questions in an open and honest manner so she can work her through it. Sometimes the parent who is left also has a hard time dealing with the death, so it is important to provide the child with other avenues of dependable support, such as another family member, a friend, a school counselor, or a trained professional.

"The first thing you can do is be human and share your grief with your child. Be able to cry with your child so you can then laugh with her when all is well again," said Dr. Adrienne McFadd, a clinical psychologist practicing in San Diego. "Too often adults try to protect their children from hurt and pain by covering up their own grief. They think they have to be strong so the child knows they are in control.

As difficult as it may be, the child has to deal with the death. You will find that if you're open about your own feelings, it gives your child permission to grieve."

McFadd conducts group sessions for children to work through their grief, and she feels that a few sessions at the time of crisis can prevent a child from developing long-term problems. Her groups include children of all ages, from preschoolers to adolescents. Pre-schoolers interpret the world in magical ways. They think death can be reversed by just wishing it so. They need patient, repetitious explanations about what has happened. School-age children are very curious about death. They are interested in the functions of the human body and need specific but simple information. Adolescents want and can grasp more thorough and complex psychological explanations. Full explanations and discussions are appropriate for this age.

Group therapy to work through the grief process consists of activities such as drawing pictures to express emotions and acting out the death by, for example playing the emergency room doctor to help bring out the child's thoughts.

Some Warning Signs That a Child Needs Help Are:
— seeking isolation
— showing a great amount of anger by smashing things or slamming doors
— giving away possessions and mentioning suicide
— having problems in school
— using alcohol or drugs
— and / or gaining or losing a great amount of weight.

There is no standard time frame for grief. After the initial shock of the death, the grief process manifests itself in various ways for children. The important thing to know is that grief needs to be addressed. If it is not, the child will carry the grief with her into adulthood and it will come out in various unhealthy ways, such as looking for all the wrong qualities when choosing a mate or completely falling apart when faced with another death.

It's never too late for a child to grieve, but the sooner the process is completed, the better are her chances of leading a healthy life. Grief is an exhausting psychological task but it is a process that must be completed. When it is, a child can come through it with her self-esteem and social connections intact, and with enough psychological energy and trust in people to form new relationships.

" Try never to clutch the pain of past hurts so tightly to your chest that your arms are too full to embrace the gifts of the present and ...yes, even the future to be! " -Unknown


" RECIPE FOR A BETTER WORLD "

Written By
MICHAELA FOLKINS - Grade 3 / 8 Yrs Old

1 Tablespoon of the excitement and beauty of every person like a rose in bloom
1 cup of hearts from every person
A sprinkle of magic to see beyond the outside of people
1 cup of skin like white clouds
1 cup of skin like the color of sunset
1 cup of skin like the night sky
4 teaspoons of acceptance, gratefulness, and thoughtfulness
A world full of children's laughter
1 Heap of cooperation
A spoonful of being yourself

Combine all these ingredients in a colorful bowl.
Leave it on the counter for a day until the colors of white clouds, sunset, and the night sky become one.
It's important to share some with those who are in need of accepting those who are different.

EDITOR'S NOTE : This poem is written by an eight-year-old girl —with a special
gentle love, and understanding, for her fellow humans. (Printed with Permission)


" DISCARDED "

Written By
NATE FOLKINS – Grade 5 / 11 Yrs Old

Every day as I travel to where I must go,
I see the world through other eyes, poor eyes, discarded eyes.
I see the world for what it really is.
No place is equal.
No place is fair.
I see the people, beaten down...living in broken homes.
The part of the world that has been thrown away.
The part of the world that has been discarded.
I wish to help them, to make them happy.
But none can make a difference alone.
So I see the discarded world every day...
Wishing to make it a better place,
But none can make a difference alone.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This poem is written by an eleven-year-old boy —with incredible personal
insight about choosing life and the hope to make a difference. (Printed with Permission)


HALLE BERRY TALKS ABOUT SUICIDE ATTEMPT

Actress Halle Berry has revealed that she tried to commit suicide after her first marriage ended.

The 40-year-old Hollywood star told Parade Magazine that she considered ending her life after she split from baseball player David Justice.

Berry said, "I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming, when I had an image of my mother finding me. She sacrificed so much for her children, and to end my life would be an incredibly selfish thing to do. It was all about a relationship. My sense of worth was so low. I promised myself I would never be a coward again."

The actress also revealed that her marriage to actor singer Eric Benet was "really horrific."

"We were in sex rehab after one year. I wish I had left then, but I was putting everyone's needs before mine," she said.

Halle Berry, who is now dating model Gabriel Aubry, said that her next goal is to start a family. "I've accomplished things I never thought I would. Now my sights are set on a different chapter in my life, which is motherhood. That's the goal I have very clearly set for myself."

(This article is Edited from several newspaper reports.)


PREVENTING COLLEGE SUICIDE

By Heather Brown - March 05, 2007

Perhaps no one can really know why someone commits suicide, yet according to the Suicide and Mental Health Association International, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students after accidents.

The association points out that college students don't usually fit the profile of other young adults that commit suicide. Most young people that commit suicide use or abuse drugs and alcohol or have impulsive, risk-taking personalities. College suicides tend to be depressed, quiet, socially-isolated people who draw little attention to themselves.

There is no foolproof way of being able to know that someone is thinking of hurting her or himself —but the following signs, given by the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, may indicate that a person is considering suicide:

— Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or about wanting to hurt or kill others.

— A suddenly worsening school performance.

— Feeling hopeless

— A fixation with death or violence.

— Violent mood swings or a sudden change in personality.

— Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities -seemingly without thinking.

— Indications that the student is in an abusive relationship.

— Increasing alcohol or drug use.

— Withdrawing from friends, family, and society.

— Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.

Suicide has been called a permanent 'solution' to a temporary problem.

A study was conducted with people who had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide and lived through it —all of them regretted their decision. In an article in The New Yorker, survivor Ken Baldwin said, "I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable —except for having just jumped."

If you or anyone that you know is showing warning signs of being suicidal, there are things you can do.

First, ask them if they are suicidal. Don't be afraid to ask —it does not increase the risk of them committing suicide. Listen to what they have to say. Ask them to follow up with getting help. Refer them to others.

. . . . . . . . and Most important —Don't Be Sworn To Secrecy about a possible suicide.


TEEN DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE

On Monday, February 5, 2007, Bev Cobain, a registered nurse with experience in psychiatric and mental health nursing and a nationally known educator, gave a presentation at Lake Superior State University to students and members of the community on teen depression and suicide. Cobain spoke about possible ways to prevent suicide and the types of people prone to it.

Cobain mentions that a person doesn't have to be depressed to want to kill themselves, although these individuals are more prone to. She also goes on to say that kids these days have more to deal with than several decades ago. Kids can be filled with turmoil from divorces, losing a family member, moving away in the middle of the school year, a friend moving away, or losing a job. Teens lose their security and don't know how to cope and this in turns leads to anguish. Cobain says that anguish is the driving force behind suicide. The signs of a person considering suicide are very subtle. Often, teens won't tell their parents, because they feel their parents will not understand their problems. They are more likely to talk to a close friend that they trust.

Cobain points out that when a person's turmoil gets to be too much, they'll scan their mind to see what they can do. Many times they'll feel they can't talk to anyone, and return to scanning their mind. In the process, the idea of suicide will appear and they may come to accept it as a way to be free from the pain. As they travel more towards the thought of suicide, their mind becomes a tunnel and they can't think or see anything else around them.

Cobain recalls her struggle with suicide and how she finally reached out to a friend. She speaks that afterwards all her anguish and turmoil disappeared. Now, she's glad she went through that experience, so she can relate to those teens in the same position.

Talking to someone can go a long way to helping teens dealing with their problems. Cobain stresses that adults should be more aware of kids having trouble cooping and what they're thinking. Friends need to speak out to someone if their best friend just told them they were having thoughts of suicide.

Many times someone just needs to listen.

The most important thing a person could do is to ask 'The Question'.

That question is —"Are you having thoughts of suicide?"


"Have courage for the great sorrows of your life, and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. Know that God is awake."

- Victor Hugo -

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