Grief takes many forms for all of us depending on a number of factors. Our relationship to the person dying, our age, our personalities, whether or not we have experienced any losses before, and the number of losses in our lives are but a few of the different factors that affect our bereavement. Each loss is different and the grief manifested will be experienced in different ways as well.
In my own case, I lost nine people in a six-year time frame while I was a teenager: both parents, both sets of grandparents, my favorite cousin, a friend and my fiancÚ who was killed in the Vietnam war. After the first death (that of my maternal grandmother with whom I had a very close relationship), I stopped crying. [According to the DSM III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association), multiple family deaths as experienced by a child or adolescent is given a severity rating of 7; the highest, and is compared to the adult equivalent of a concentration camp experience.] When my fiancÚ died, he was the seventh death in my life in a four-year period. And yet, for over 20 years, no one would have guessed the depth of my devastation inside. I looked and acted like nothing was wrong with me - when in fact, there was a deep hollow feeling inside of me.
It affected my relationship with God - I quit going to church. I had been told that it was God's will and that kind of justification of the pain that I was going through seemed illogical to me. That God would do that to a person - and for what? No, it didn't make sense to me that God would do that - and yet I stayed away from Him. That's not to say that I didn't ever pray or even sometimes pick up the Bible to read. But to have Him as a daily presence in my life - no, that is something that I wouldn't allow after all those deaths. The precious few times that I went to church, I could barely maintain composure when I heard the hymns - and I had no clue what was wrong inside of me. For over 20 years I was able to maintain that facade that nothing was wrong. I was successful in the eyes of the world as a professional, married woman.
In my late 30's I went to a counselor for grief issues for about eight months. And she was very supportive and really helped me a lot dealing with most of the deaths - well, all but one. I denied that I felt any grief - denied that I felt anything at all for the one relationship that affected me the greatest - that of my fiancÚ, Jim. I will always be grateful to Joann for the love and time that she gave to me. I couldn't believe the tears that poured out of me held inside of me for over 20 years.
About three years later, I was confronted by memories of my fiancÚ and I was finally forced into a position to deal with that grief. I began to experience after death communications (ADCs) with Jim and these are partially reported in My ADCs with Jim section.
I wasn't prepared for this outpouring of grief. Even with experiencing the grief of the other losses in the previous years, I wasn't prepared for the depth of despair at the loss of Jim. He was my fiancÚ, my soulmate, my future and he was killed in wartime, before we could really live one part of our dreams. I felt robbed and stripped of everything that was precious to me. I became severely depressed and was suicidal. In fact, I was suicidal for every day for a 2-1/2 year period of time. I would wake up and wonder if this was the day to end it.
And tears - never could I have believed that so many tears would have come out of one person, let alone me who had always been so strong, so put-together, so there for everyone else. Grief like this is an isolator - no friends and certainly very few family members want to see grief like this. And so they leave, one by one as the person descends into a nightmare of despair.
Yes, I went back to the grief counselor - and in all honestly, she was very helpful. I highly recommend it for anyone dealing with issues of bereavement; however, there came a point because I was experiencing ADCs that I had to rely on what was being given me by way of the ADCs with Jim. From the very beginning of my grief with Jim, I started reading the Bible on a daily basis and praying. I understood acutely that my very spiritual and physical survival depended on God.
Another interesting thing that I have noticed is that severe grief usually makes a person search extensively and my concentration on reading greatly increased during this grief stage. While I couldn't concentrate on other more mundane things, it was easy for me to read a book a night - and I did that for several months.
The messages that Jim brought me were highly comforting; however, the very idea of talking to a dead person was not comforting to me. I doubted my sanity and was terribly confused about the whole experience. I can say now, with the benefit of hindsight, that I made it worse on myself by doubting that this experience was true. It took me 2-1/2 years before I accepted the truth in my ADCs with Jim - it was a tremendous battle with my mind to accept the reality of this.
It has been ten years (1995) since I have accepted the reality of my ADCs with Jim. That acceptance has brought me an inner joy that I have never known before, a peace which surpasses all understanding, a much closer relationship with God and the strength to move on in this world, trying to help others in issues of bereavement.
To those who are in active grief, I recommend what helped me the most: daily prayer, daily reading of Scriptures, and reading or learning about what Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about the Afterlife. I give all thanks to God for these three things that kept me alive - both spiritually and physically.
For those who have experienced severe trauma of any kind in their lives and psychic/emotional numbing, you may be suffering from the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is a very good site hosted by Patience Mason describing these effects and with articles and links that are so helpful. Additionally, these books may also provide help: Secondary Traumatic Stress, by Dr. Schamm, and I Can't Get Over It: A Handbook for Trauma Survivors by Aphrodite Matzakis.
I also urge those who are undergoing severe grief to refrain from any alcoholic beverages for two years. The threat of trying to self-medicate yourself with alcohol and/or prescribed medication is very real and can lead one to try to "drown" their sorrows and suicidal tendencies.
To those who may be reading this who have never experienced the pain of grief, I offer the following suggestions:
If a grieving person tells you about ADCs, don't dismiss them or their experiences as wishful thinking or just something that grief does to a person. Even if you don't believe the person, keep an open mind - and refrain from making any questionable retorts to the person.
Understand that the grieving person has been forever altered by the loss. This person will never be the same - so please do not make comments that you wish they would be the same person - that will never happen.
Do let the grieving person know that you sincerely care for him/her. And put this care in action by allowing the person to talk and cry. Understand that there will be precious few in a grieving person's life now that will allow it. Be the friend that is supportive - that is what is needed.
Don't put a time limit on when you think the grief should be over. Grief knows no time - only state of mind.
If you have any additional comments
that you would like to incorporate into this essay or if I can help in any way, please
|Barb's Page||The Straight Facts Comforting and uplifting answers about the life to come||Judy's Page|
Marriage in Heaven|
Dedicated to those who have lost a spouse or fiance'
|Afterlife Information - Ecumenical, inclusive of all faiths||ADC Page - Comforting messages of love from the other side!|
|Spiritual Issues Page||Sweethearts in Heaven by Kaye and Robin - a memorial dedicated to their soulmates Jim and Bryan with stories of After Death Communications.||For Those in Sorrow by Clayton Priestnal|
|Death and Beyond - wonderful article on the life to come||Beatitudes of Grief||Swedenborg Information|
Hearts are Forever Broken Our
Friend, Magge's Tribute
to her grandson, Josh
A Very Special Place!
|A Love Eternal. Our friend Madeleine's tribute to her beloved husband Bassim. Insights, poetry, recommended readings. Beautiful and uplifting.||Lilli Pierce. Dave and Judy's memorial to their beloved daughter, Lilli. Insights, Life After Death, recommended links. Heartfelt and touching.||
Letters from Beyond
Our Friend, Harriet's inspirational writings from her husband Thomas who is on the other side. Comforting and uplifting.
|Journey Thru Grief. Our Friend, Debbie's journey of grief for her husband, Jerry and son, Mark. With recommended readings, insights. Inspirational.||Footprints||Angels Unknown: A true story of Healing After Vietnam by Lynda Twyman Paffrath|
|Grief Denied: A Vietnam Widow's Story - This is an excellent book for anyone that has been impacted by loss due to the Vietnam War.||
|Claudio's Bereaved Parents Website Claudio is a medical doctor who has experienced ADCs with his young son||What about Suicide?||Harriet's Peace Page|
|How to make contact with your loved one.|