5/22/09

best online support if you're widowed



Although there are several forms of online support for those who have been widowed (chat rooms, bulletin boards, etc.), our favorite is GriefNet.org. This non-profit site offers almost 50 specialized email support groups as well as two web sites.

According to the GriefNet site:

"Our groups operate 24-hours/day, 365 days/year. Members participate when they wish and are able to, not at a set time. When one member of a group sends an email message to the group, everyone in the group receives a copy. This allows many people to respond with love and caring to the thoughts and feelings of an individual, day and night, year-round. Since 1994 these groups have helped thousands of people around the world deal safely with their grief."

We also like the fact that there is a mental health professional in charge:

"All groups are monitored by trained volunteers who make sure that the groups are running smoothly. Overall supervision is provided by Cendra Lynn, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and traumatologist."

A sampling of GriefNet’s email groups includes:

Grief-Widowed is a support group for anyone who has lost a partner or a spouse at any age, at any time, of any sexual orientation. If/when subscribers find a need for a more focused list, that can be created.

Widowed-with-Kids is a group for those who have lost a partner or spouse who still have children living at home. This is a place where the unique problems of parenting when widowed can be discussed.

Grief-Widowed Moving On is a support group for anyone who has lost a partner or a spouse at any age, at any time, of any sexual orientation, and who has moved on beyond the first raw stages of dealing with that loss. This list was formed at the request of people in grief-widowed group whose issues have become different from those who are newly bereaved. Some persons subscribe to both lists.

Grief-Men is a support group for bereaved men who especially want to talk to other men about their loss.

Young Widowed is a support group for those aged 40 or under who have lost a spouse or partner. Please note: the age cut-off is only suggested; those who feel themselves to fit into this category are welcome.

Widowed Gay is for gays who have lost a partner to death or whose partner is currently dying. Gays are also welcome in our other widowed groups and while we have never had a homophobic incident, this group was created in response to a special request from some gay widowed members.


There are also support groups for children and teens:

Kids-to-kids, a support group for children ages 12 and under.

K2K-Teens, support for ages 13 through 18.


Learn more about these and other groups offered by GriefNet.


5/4/09

making it through mother's day




Holidays like Mother’s Day can be difficult, especially during the first year after your loss. Even if it's been some time since the death, holiday ads bombard all of us with images of a mother's love and care.

In addition to these often bittersweet reminders, Mother’s Day itself can stir up the pain of loss for you, your children and/or grandchildren.

If you’ve lost your spouse/partner, it may also remind you of your own deceased parent(s).

Children in particular can feel left out and troubled while others around them celebrate the occasion.

Here are some tips for helping your family cope:

a) Acknowledge your own feelings of loss by talking about how you miss your spouse/partner or parent. When children see you sad or tearful it lets them know their own feelings are normal.

b) Have younger children create “remembering” cards, with photos or drawings of special memories about their parent or grandparent.

c)You may find it comforting to visit the cemetery or other place of remembrance.

d) If there is a family gathering, make some time to share affectionate or funny memories of your loved one.

The feelings Mother’s Day stirs up won’t just go away. It’s best to acknowledge the occasions, even briefly, especially with children.

By denying or avoiding sad feelings, you run the risk of them "sneaking up" on you or other family members unexpectedly.

5/1/09

reflections by deb edwards: dealing with anger

Contributor Deb Edwards shares some of the ways she learned to cope with anger following her husband's dealth:


There are so many emotions that occur during the grief process. After my husband died, I found myself feeling angry a lot. I created the “Mad List”, which listed in no particular order everything and everyone I was angry at. I was quite surprised at how long it was, but it gave me a lot of insight as to why I felt the way I did.

One day I took the list and for every entry I had made, I made a second entry of gratitude. It helped me to dissipate the anger and find forgiveness.

The important thing is to let those feelings out. If writing is not your thing, try exercising, talking with someone, or even hitting a pillow. Holding those feelings inside can have unhealthy results, both physically and emotionally.