by Shep Jeffreys
Join me at 7:00 p.m., on July 23 at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library where I will answer these questions, and read several poems from my book, Helping Grieving People–When Tears Are Not Enough, about my own and my family’s grief journey after the death of our son Steven at age eight. Here are some thoughts in the meantime.
WHAT IS GRIEF? “My friends say that I should be over this by now! – How long does grief take?” “Shep, am I doing this right?” “Am I going crazy? All I do is cry and cry.” These, and oh so many more similar questions, are asked by my clients. Answers are very individual but there are some general understandings of what human grief is and what role it plays in reclaiming some life after a death, a scary diagnosis, layoff or other of life’s many painful and tragic losses. There is no one right way to grieve.
HOW CAN I HELP? Friends and family of bereaved persons frequently ask, “What should I say? What can I do to help her or him or them?” Most of us feel helpless in the face of a tragic loss because we cannot fix it. There are many ways to help specifically but showing up is an important part of supporting grieving people. Never underestimate the value of human presence. We will review a number of do’s and don’ts and ways to prepare to be with a grieving friend or family member.
WHO ARE THE GRIEVERS? WHO ARE THE INVISIBLE GRIEVERS? There are special needs of certain people based on their stage in life and their relationship to the deceased loved one. Bereaved children, parents, older adults and widowed all have specific, as well as general support needs. I call the terminally ill, disabled and their families the invisible grievers, because they are frequently out of sight, down the block, behind closed doors, as we were for three years during Steven’s battle with cancer.
There will be opportunities for you to share and ask questions. Oh yes, we will also look at the benefits of denial, avoidance and humor. We may also be doing some laughing. Registration for this program is free but required. 410-313-7800