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   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:

    cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  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.

    cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  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.

    cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  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.

    cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  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 email me.
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cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Griefscloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)   
Emily Dickinson

I measure every grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
Or has an easier size.

I wonder if they bore it long,
Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
It feels so old a pain.

I wonder if it hurts to live,
And if they have to try,
And whether, could they choose between,
They would not rather die.

I wonder if when years have piled--
Some thousands--on the cause
Of early hurt, if such a lapse
Could give them any pause;

Or would they go on aching still
Through centuries above,
Enlightened to a larger pain
By contrast with the love.

The grieved are many, I am told;
The reason deeper lies,--
Death is but one and comes but once,
And only nails the eyes.

There's grief of want, and grief of cold,--
A sort they call despair;
There's banishment from native eyes,
In sight of native air.

And though I may not guess the kind
Correctly, yet to me
A piercing comfort it affords
In passing Calvary,

To note the fashions of the cross,
Of those that stand alone,
Still fascinated to presume
That some are like my own.

Coping with Grief During the Holidays
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cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  Barb's Page cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  The Straight Facts Comforting and uplifting answers about the life to come cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  Judy's Page
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes) Marriage in Heaven
 Dedicated to those who have lost a spouse or fiance'
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes) Afterlife Information - Ecumenical, inclusive of all faiths cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  ADC Page - Comforting messages of love from the other side!
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  Spiritual Issues Page cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Sweethearts in Heaven by Kaye and Robin - a memorial dedicated to their soulmates Jim and Bryan with stories of After Death Communications. cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)For Those in Sorrow by Clayton Priestnal
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  Death and Beyond - wonderful article on the life to come cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes) Beatitudes of Grief cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Swedenborg Information

 
True Spiritual Stories of Vietnam

 cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Richie's Place
Our friend, Mo's heartfelt essay on the anniversary of her son's crossing - beautiful and uplifting. Also her insightful article on a mother's grief on Mother's Day.

cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Our Hearts are Forever Broken Our Friend, Magge's Tribute
to her grandson, Josh
A Very Special Place! 
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)A Love Eternal. Our friend Madeleine's tribute to her beloved husband Bassim. Insights, poetry, recommended readings. Beautiful and uplifting. cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes) Lilli Pierce. Dave and Judy's memorial to their beloved daughter, Lilli. Insights, Life After Death, recommended links. Heartfelt and touching. cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes) Letters from Beyond
Our Friend, Harriet's inspirational writings from her husband Thomas who is on the other side. Comforting and uplifting.
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Journey Thru Grief. Our Friend, Debbie's journey of grief for her husband, Jerry and son, Mark. With recommended readings, insights. Inspirational. cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)  Footprints cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Angels Unknown: A true story of Healing After Vietnam by Lynda Twyman Paffrath
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes) Patience Mason's
 PTSD Information
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)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. cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Patience Mason's
 Holiday Guide
cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Claudio's Bereaved Parents Website Claudio is a medical doctor who has experienced ADCs with his young son cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)What about Suicide? cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes)Harriet's Peace Page

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More Grief Resources
 on our Links Page

cloudbullet2.gif (493 bytes) How to make contact with your loved one.
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