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Care for the Grieving Heart

Empathy for your losses

I’ve been sending too many sympathy cards of late. Expressing my deepest condolences and sadnesses to people I care about who have lost someone they care about. And whom I’ve cared about. There is no right thing to say. Nothing takes away the pain. Mourning goes on, even when it feels like the world seems to go on, often without noticing the giant holes that have been left behind.

An aunt who has lost her husband. Cousins who have lost their father. Another cousin who lost her daughter. Mothers who have lost their babies. A boy who lost his dad. Grandmothers who’ve lost grandchildren. A friend who lost her father. Another friend who lost his cousin. A man who lost his mother. Another cousin of mine, herself lost.

Tears can be relentless. Heartache feels like heartbreak. Survivors feel inconsolable.
Illness, dementia, cancer, unknown causes of death. “Natural” deaths all, but still so difficult to come to terms with. No one is ever ready to face the loss of a loved one.

Sometimes it feels like the most I can do is bear witness to their pain, suffering and loss. Allow myself to share tears, remember memories, listen to their grief for as long as it takes. Just be present to all the feelings that come up. Offer hugs. Be present some more. Write gentle and caring words of sympathy. Share hugs. Be wholly present to their grief, even when it hurts so bad.

And now my heart goes out to all the families and loved ones of victims shot in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton in the last couple of weeks. All those people and children just living their regular lives, doing regular things, accompanying their husband to Walmart, buying school supplies, enjoying a garlic ice cream at a festival. But being marginalized and targeted for their brownness or blackness, because the shooters’ heart had been shut down by hate. Their loss belongs to all of us. My heart goes out to all those grieving in any way.

So many families devastated. Communities rocked. Children afraid. Loss is hard enough to deal with when it’s “natural”, or accidental, or due to illness. But when it comes about through violence, through direct hateful and hurtful behavior, the grieving becomes more complicated. The fear and terror that violence and trauma bring about is overwhelming and so challenging.

My heart goes out to everyone suffering after tragedy and loss. May you be comforted in your pain by knowing you are not alone. May the ache of your mourning and fear be soothed by connections made with other warm-hearted people. And may your feelings of grief be held tenderly and with deep care, and gently guide you in your next moments.

What is grieving you? How do you respond to your own losses or to those of people around you?

If you or someone you love is struggling with grief and loss, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.