Posts tagged sorrow
Posts tagged sorrow
When expressing your condolences in a sympathy note, use words from your heart. As tempting as it may be to find and use a standard message, a personal note will be appreciated by the bereaved. Here are some tips for writing a genuine and meaningful sympathy message:
If you’re not sure what to say to the bereaved, read our articles on the top five phrases to avoid when speaking to a griever and what to say to the grieving.
Perhaps at one time, maybe just last year, this was a day full of flowers, hugs, laughter & good food.
It’s astonishing what a death can take away from us, that even a holiday like this, once so simple and sweet, can become dreaded and excruciating days of mourning.
There are two main groups of people I am thinking of as I write this blog:
Children who have lost their mother and have no one to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” to.
Mothers who have lost children and who will be missing that sweet voice saying,
“I love you, Mom”
As a friend of a grieving person, there is most likely nothing you can do to somehow make this Mother’s Day feel wonderful and just like previous years. What you can do is extend love to your friend, talk about the mother or child that is missing. Acknowledging the loss is something we are often afraid to do because we think, “oh, if I say her name it will just make my friend sad,” the truth is, they are already thinking of and missing these people and likely wondering if anyone else is, too. Showing someone you remember is a precious gift to them.
As a mother who is grieving a child (of any age), Mother’s Day will require a tremendous amount of strength and patience as you encounter others who don’t know what to say and then, perhaps say the wrong thing. You are in a particularly difficult grief that no one should ever have to face.
As a child whose mother is no longer living, it will be hard to see others enjoying their mothers while you are grieving that special relationship.
But what can you do to remember your loved one this Mother’s day? You will know what is best for you, if there are lines you don’t want to cross or perhaps special traditions saved for this day.
- Write them a letter recalling special memories, some of their unique quirks, and things that their life added to yours.
- Journal/Think through the questions: “How do you make sense of all this?” “What are the lessons for you?” “How are you different because of your loved one’s life and death?”
- GO – Get out of your house and visit one of your loved one’s favorite spots. Maybe there’s a bench in Dana Point that you both loved sitting at, a favorite meal at a café, a great ice cream spot, whatever it is, getting out can be a very positive and refreshing addition to your day.
- Seek out support from others going through similar losses. We have a large representation of local support groups represented on our website, many churches can provide you with personal pastoral care and our resident expert, Becky Lomaka, can guide you to a group specific to you (email Becky at: firstname.lastname@example.org).
I want to say that only you can really know what is going to help you or hurt you as you go through Mother’s Day. Taking care of yourself is the goal here and grieving actively can be part of that but consider what you want to do carefully and without any guilt pulling at you. You will make it through this, and since you have to, I hope you can customize this Mother’s Day with what’s best for You.
By sharing their strength, sorrow, vulnerability and whit, the authors listed below equip us with the emotional tools to face our own struggles. If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
1. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. 2005.
In 2003, Joan Didion’s husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, died suddenly at their dinner table, moments after the couple came home from visiting their recently coma-induced daughter at the hospital. This unbelievably tragic series of events spurred Didion’s relatable, touching, intellectual memoir – The Year of Magical Thinking. Her literary prowess takes the reader through widespread musings on grief, but instead of bogging us down in her sorrow, Didion has managed to create a life affirming account of loss that is destined to become a classic.
2. A Widow’s Story, by Joyce Carol Oats. 2011.
How do we piece together the fragments of our own life when our main source of identity and routine is suddenly taken away? Do we at some point become self-pitying if we find ourselves unable to move past our own sorrow? Joyce Carol Oats struggled to answer these questions as she grappled for a sense of meaning while mourning the loss of her beloved husband, Raymond Smith. Intimate details about her undying love, including Raymond’s voicemail message that she kept for over a year after his death, make this a heartbreaking, must read memoir.
3. Blue Nights, by Joan Didion. 2011.
Blue Nights is considered a sequel to Didion’s previous masterpiece The Year of Magical Thinking. As if the heartbreak from losing her husband in 2003 wasn’t enough, Didion’s daughter, Quintana Roo, died just two years later from an ongoing illness. Blue Nights explores one person’s capacity for grief, and the unique sadness of a parent burring her child. Didion also address her own mortality, and the difficulties of growing older.
4. Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther. 1949.
John Gunther’s loving tribute to his son, Johnny, is a must read for any person struggling with the loss of a child. We follow Johnny’s story, from his initial brain tumor diagnosis to his death at the young age of 17. John focuses on the strength and wisdom of his dying son, who continued to fight for his life right up until the time it was taken from him.
5. Nothing to Be Frightened Of, by Julian Barnes. 2008.
Nothing to Be frightened Of offers a slight departure from many other books on this list. Instead of reacting to a particular death, Barnes addresses death in general, particularly his own, and how his views on life, death, and God change as he grows older. At 62, Barnes has seen his parents and friends die. He knows that the sun is dying, he is dying, and the human species as a whole is slowly but inevitably changing. In Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Barnes works to make sense of it all, and offers a candid, surprisingly humorous look at the ultimate common denominator.
6. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers. 2000.
At the young age of 22, Dave Eggers lost both his parents to cancer and consequently became the guardian of his eight-year-old brother. In order to convey this incomprehensible tragedy to readers, Eggers uses a self-referential, sardonic, yet ultimately touching narrative approach that reflects a unique, generational perspective.
7. A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis. 1961.
A Grief Observed is CS Lewis’ account of the debilitating grief he felt when his wife of three years died of cancer, and the struggle for a devout man to understand some of God’s decisions. Although difficult to read (for content, not technique), this memoir offers a cathartic experience for anyone in the throws of loss.
8. The Long Goodbye, by Meghan O’Rourke. 2011.
After the death of her 55-year-old mother, O’Rourke struggled to understand her overwhelming and complex feelings of grief. She began to write down her thoughts – from the most nuanced observations to grandiose musings – which eventually resulted in this wonderful book, equally praised for it’s beautiful prose and emotional insight.
9. Epilogue, by Anne Roiphe. 2008.
Much like A Widow’s Story, Anne Roiphe’s Epilogue details the painful bereavement of a recent widow, and the seemingly impossible task of regaining a sense of normalcy when one has experienced great loss. Roiphe shares her innermost experiences, including thoughts of suicide and difficulty reinterring the dating world, in this heartfelt memoir.
10. The Pure Lover: A Memoir of Grief, by David Plante. 2009.
The Pure Lover is Plante’s lovingly written memoir about his late partner of 40 years, Nikos Stangos. It is a testament to the power of close relationships, and although we feel Plante’s pain, we also feel his joy at having loved. At times he writes from the perspective of Stangos, suggesting a level of closeness only a lifetime together can create.
Nicholas Kania works in marketing for Cleveland, Ohio-based eFuneral, an online resource providing caregivers and those thinking about end-of-life with free, helpful information.
This statue is beautiful. its supposed to symbolize that the angel didnt want them to die. that it wasnt their time to pass on. i went to a local sculptor around my town and asked why most angels are depicted mouring over graves
he said it was because the person committed suicide and the angel said it wasnt their time yet, so they mourned.
A tribute to a mother:
It’s on my left forearm. It’s a note my mom left me the night she died. Here’s a side-by-side shot of the two.
Deserves every note.