What David Taransaud Learned in Uganda

Posted on Nov 5, 2016 in General Grief

article_spotlight

“Trauma is contagious; but love is contagious too – that’s another thing I learned – it is the healing agent.”

I occasionally post an article which addresses a problem so foreign to my experience that it is important to hear it from another. In this post, London-based psychotherapist tells a heart-rending story about how art is allowing Ugandan adults to finally speak about being child soldiers.

It is an opportunity for each of us to realize:

I am all right right now I am all right,

and to be grateful.

Article Link: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2016/oct/25/hearing-these-stories-changes-you-it-makes-you-more-human

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What’s the Downside to Trading in the Traditional Funeral?

Posted on Oct 22, 2016 in General Grief

(Excerpt from coming book, Help! Someone Died!)

glasses

Is there a downside to trading in the funeral…for a celebration-of-life service?

I have attended end-of-life services since I was toddler and have watched the services move from being a sacred space of shared sorrow and concern for the surviving family—to being a memorial, which seems to be a secular form of funeral—to the current trend of celebration that rewinds the deceased’s life away from the tear-filled reality of death entirely.

There seems to be trend in the US for milestones such as bar/bat mitzvahs, high school proms, graduations, weddings and now, end-of-life services, to be lavish rather than intimate.

Do deathstyles match our lifestyles?

We naturally distance ourselves from what is unpleasant but, historically, we didn’t expect every life experience to be enjoyable and we didn’t distance ourselves from the reality of death. When someone died, friends and neighbors actively helped the family face the reality and mourn the death, because the potential of the entire community was as important as individual potential. As far as the deceased’s legacy was concerned, it was obvious the day the person died, for good or ill.

Is there value in gravity?

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End of Life Ritual Services – Old and New

Posted on Sep 4, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief

(Excerpt from coming book, Help! Someone Died!)

Ancient Egypt: Tomb of Ramos - Funeral Procession

Ancient Egypt: Tomb of Ramos – Funeral Procession

Evidence of the desire to reunite a decedent’s soul with their ancestors in the spirit world goes back to Neanderthal man. This ceremonial quest for immortality continued, for the most part, to be the norm up to and into our contemporary western funerals. *

Until the 1960’s.

The 1960’s Revolution

The 60’s brought revolutionary change to every facet of society as young people disrupted and deconstructed the socio/political process and pulled away from organized religion.

Today, our American culture continues to shift from the sacred to a secular end-of-life service, except for active Catholics, High Episcopalians, Muslims and members of the Orthodox faiths.

The ever-evolving end-of-life practices

  • Obituaries: In the past a short obituary ran in the local newspaper giving the deceased’s name, date and cause of death, and time and place for the visitation and funeral service. Now, if an obituary is published in a local paper or online, the primary focus in on the deceased’s life. The cause of death is often omitted, and service details may or may not be listed.
  • Visitation: In the past, one or two evenings were set aside prior to the funeral so friends could gather at the funeral home and view the deceased in an open casket. (The exception: Jewish tradition required burial within 24 hours of death.) Now visitations are less common because younger generations consider an open casket barbaric.
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A White Person Can’t Understand the Black Experience

Posted on Jul 27, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief

article_spotlight

Sometimes a person writes of their experience of deep grief—from a place so outside of my own—that I post their entire article.

Today’s post is one of those times.

I am not black, and I can’t authentically write about the black experience. Nikole-Hannah-Jones is and she can.

Nikole’s article does not report an opinion; she invites you into her experience. Remember, trauma is not an event, it is an experience.

And so I thank Nikole, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and 2016 Peabody Award winner, for writing The Grief White American’s Can’t Share.

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Are You Mad as Hell or Just Sulking?

Posted on Jun 22, 2016 in General Grief, Uncategorized

men_holding_hands

We have just experienced the largest mass shooting in the history of this country and are now exploring the back story of how the assassin came to be mentally unbalanced enough to commit a mass murder.

We crave the back story to make sense of it.

But everyone has a back story. And the back story of a mass murderer is always one of psychological imbalance.

OK, we need to focus on mental health, but we can’t ever control for violence if a person is willing to die to kill. What we can control is the type of weapon the mass murderer uses and how many are killed.

This isn’t rocket science, but every clarion call leads to Congress shooting down a ban on assault weapons.

Is Congress filled with cowards?

The back story of a typical congressional member is his/her need to raise incredible sums of money to get reelected. The NRA provides campaign funding. As a result many in Congress put their job security ahead of their constituent’s lives. To narrow it down a bit more: many in Congress sacrifice our lives for their livelihoods. To drill down even deeper: as a body, the US Congress arms criminals, terrorists and the mentally ill with assault weapons.

OK, we need to focus on election reform, but we can’t control for the intoxicating lure of special interest money. What we can control is who stays in Congress and who doesn’t.

This isn’t rocket science, but every clarion call to remove members who stand in the way of gun control dies because of voter apathy.

Who holds the real power over Congress?

You.

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Help! Someone Died!–Part 3
What To Do and Say to the Bereaved at the Service and Later

Posted on Jun 11, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief

friend_talk_to_friend

(Excerpt from book due to be published in late 2016)

Here are some suggested “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for speaking to, and being around, the bereaved family.  Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the list and don’t let what you read paralyze you to the point of being speechless. My goal is arm you with a bit of knowledge so you feel more comfortable.

Hopefully you will accept that

  • words can’t comfort the bereaved, but your presence can;
  • the less said, the better; and
  • saying something wrong is better than saying nothing at all.

List of comments that will be appreciated.

  • “I am so sorry for your loss.” (This can precede and follow most of the following.)
  • “I wish I had the right words, but I don’t. Just know that I care.”
  • “I don’t know what to say. I wish I had the right words to comfort you.”
  • “You and your loved ones (family) are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • “Your (parent, sibling, child) was always so nice to me. One of my favorite memories is …”
  • “She/he will be missed by so many people.”
  • “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
  • “I can’t imagine how tough this must be for you.”
  • “We all need help at times. I will call next week to find out how I can help you.”
  • “You can count on me in the coming months.”
  • “I’m your friend—and I’m here for you.”

Follow any of the above with “I care about you.” You matter to me,” or  “I love you” when it is appropriate.

A list of comments best left unsaid

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Help!
Someone Died! – Part 2 Continued…

Posted on Jun 4, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief

fruit_bowl

(Excerpt from book due to be published in late 2016)

What to do upon hearing of a death? (continued)

Our last blog post was too long for a quick read so we split it up. Here is the second installment.  If you haven’t read the first installment  of What to do upon hearing of a death? or want to refresh your memory,  click here.

What food is best to take to the bereaved family immediately following a death?

There are likely to be a lot of people visiting  and/or staying with the bereaved immediately after a family death, and people have to eat!

Often the family ends up with too many casseroles and not enough staples. Keep in mind that practical and tasty is often better than a gourmet spread. It is also a good idea to include freezer wrap or a freezer container for cooked food so it can be easily frozen and brought out a few days later.   If you are using your own kitchen/dinnerware, be sure to put your name on the bottom.

The following is a variety of suggestions.  Remember you are trying to help, not impress.

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