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If we we don’t allow people to communicate, we cannot assume that our version of the truth is necessarily the right one.
Be open to others’ pain with empathy, compassion, and kindness. Whether you are cruel, or supremely kind, neither one will ever be forgotten.

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Kindness Blog

Quotation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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grieving heart

I found myself being silly, making a joke, a suffused bubble of light inside of me as I laughed. Then I felt guilty. That is how I know that I am still mourning mightily.

For anyone who is mourning and grieving, laughter and joy are still tightly intertwined with guilt and sadness. Our emotions are twisted like the ribbons of a thousand balloons.

We want to be happy, and laugh, we really do. But, a piece of our heart is missing and sometimes it affects our breathing, making it impossible to do so. Part of the oft repeated refrain is that our loved ones would want us to be happy. Yes, in a rational world, that has not been turned upside down with grief, that makes sense. However, there is nothing rational about grief.

It has no time limit. It does not travel in a straight path. It meanders, going up and down, peeking behind dark corners, causing an anxiety attack when and where you least expect it. Grief is a Rebel.

It colors everything we say or do, or how the world looks to us in our gray tinted lenses. Visions appear and then tears blot them into lost Monet paintings, colors running downward, and away, from us. Grief is an Artist.

You play all the right music and watch all the right movies. You seek out comedy and avoid terrible news stories. You try to think about something else or focus on someone else. Then you have a trigger… Today, someone told me about their sister-in-law’s passing at the age of 47. She left behind 11 orphaned children. Instantly, I was sucked back into the vision and heartache of children and grandchildren growing up without the rare and brilliant love of a mother. Grief is a vacuum.

You plan happy occasions and pick out special gifts or foods. Decorations are carefully planned and stockings are hung with care. Suddenly, you realize that it is all gone; nothing is really there, it is but an elaborate illusion. With a wave of a hand and a toss of the head, it all vanishes into thin air. We are stricken tiny and mute. Nothing is really as it seems. Grief is a magician.

A year ago, everything was the last. Each holiday, each photograph, each family occasion was the last. This year, everything is the first; the first of many without. With everything it has taken away, Grief has only given me one thing: the painful depth and true understanding of another’s endless mourning.

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When we lose someone we love, they take our history, memories, and shared experiences with them. Regardless of our age, we are always children, siblings, parents, spouses, and grandparents.

The first question I am asked is “How old was the person who died?” Despite some rationalization and equivocation for the other person, the mourning and grief is real. The children have lost a parent. It does not matter how old the parent was when she passed, it is a large loss and gaping hole in the hearts of the children.

We are mourning yet another loss to our family structure. Our uncle passed away two days ago. My 85 year old father-in-law said, in his sadness, “My little brother died.” We are reduced to another age in the fluidity of time with memories of summers on the beach, dinners with grandparents, holidays and birthdays. The person who knows and shares your story is gone. You become the lone storyteller with no one to embellish your memories or enhance the details. The witness to the milestones of your life is gone.

Painfully, it is a reminder that you are the remaining mourner, on your own, carrying the bulk and breadth of your family history.

Whether other people lack experience, maturity, or empathy, the loss remains. That is the intangible in the hazy shape-shifting of life. For anyone who has lost someone they love, they can choose to reach out in condolences and understanding to another. It is incomprehensible to someone who has not been in that circumstance. Pain recognizes pain and is capable of extending kindness to another with the knowledge of how extraordinarily helpless it feels standing in the shadow of sorrow. People still walk past you. Heads bob in traffic caught up in their tiny little worlds. How could the world still go on? Don’t you realize who passed and what their contributions meant?

The fingerprint of grief lies indelibly on our hearts.

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Thank you for stopping by. It means more than you think.
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anne taintor valium
There are a lot of greeting cards and many condolence options are available to the needy consumer. However, some people just don’t get it. I am a firm believer in the concept that stupidity should be painful. Of course, there are the people who are disconnected and clueless on purpose. Don’t even get me started on that one. But maintaining a dark sense of humor for special occasions does seem to help.

We don’t have any idea of how to conduct ourselves in difficult situations and have lost the ability to extend comfort or empathy to someone else. Some day you may be in this horrible situation, having to endure the loss of a loved one. I can tell you that you will be numb with some people and want to beat the crap out of others. You will want to scream and rant and say “Don’t you know that my mother is dead?” (Of course, please only say this if it is true) How can the world keep turning when the person we love is gone, lost to us seemingly forever. Those who are blessed with no experience, in such matters, need a little guide book explaining some basic etiquette.

When you express condolences, try to use your “indoor voice”, make eye contact, and express the brief hope for healing and compassion. This is a fairly quick process and can be conducted in most open, common areas such as a school, home, office or grocery store. No special clothing is necessary and you don’t need to know which utensil to use.

Wasn’t that easy?

It is not hard to have a shred of humanity. Attached to data packages and technology as we are 24 hours a day, a ten second email or text “Sorry for your loss” is not complicated. It is not heartfelt either, but hey, at least you took the ten seconds out of your day to share the full depth and range of your emotional wattage.

A tweet that says “There should be comfort….” just sounds disdainful. An ellipse????? Really? Is this a punch line? Will this be followed by a 2 second frowny emoticon?

Have we lapsed so far from human interaction that we cannot even use words to express pain anymore? I know, the iPhone gives you a wide range of emojis so that you never have to try to find the words to say you are sorry. All you have to do is pick out some freeze-dried, dehydrated, animated facial expression and the hard work is done.

But maybe that is the problem. We have taken away any need to use words or face- to- face communication. We run from the car to the door, so that we are not speaking to the neighbor and don’t know the names of our childrens’ teachers or our coworker’s family members. Simple communication, that is sincere and gracious, is the smallest piece of humanity we have left.

Life, birth, death, loss – – these may all be part of the cycle of life, but it is not black and white. Someone, somewhere, is mourning something every single day. Loss is loss. Whether, it is a pet, a spouse, a friend, a job, a piece of jewelry, the sense of community, foreclosure, or a favorite sweater that gets bleached in the washing machine. How we deal with it, feel, and live with that loss is uniquely individual and immeasurable to the naked eye. Who am I to say what loss feels like for you or what triggers hurt you the most? Yet, I do understand how it feels, in my own way, because I have had to say goodbye too many times, and, truly, it never gets easier.

It is hard to handle death. There may be an awkward pause until you carefully choose your words and your throat might feel a bit tight or moisture will bathe your eyes. Persevere, take a deep breath, push through the pain, and please put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If it was you, you would want to rant and scream too. I assure you that it hurts me more to have to hear it than it will be for you to have said it. We should not meet under these circumstances, but remember, all that means is that from here on in, there is nowhere to go but up.

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