How an individual expresses grief may be influenced by ones personality and/or gender identification.
A person that tends to be more emotionally reserved, may find grief difficult to express, and If a person is on the quieter side, they may find it highly uncomfortable to cry or be sad.
For those that are comfortable with feelings, they may find it easier to share their thoughts and emotions more openly with others.
In regards to gender, and I do not wish to imply that a gender identification will 100% dictate grief response, there can be some differences in how grief is expressed.
Masculine grief can often be shaped by how they were allowed to express emotions growing up. It may have been viewed as weakness by not having a stiff upper lip - as in, don't cry or show feelings, internal processing and wanting to get into some kind of action.
Feminine grief energy can show up as wanting to talk about the many feelings and emotions, while seeking comfort in the sharing and getting support. There may also be the willingness to seek alternatives in grief expression, such as writing, therapy, or support groups.
Again, there is no typical or right way to express grief, and personality and gender may, or may not, influence mourning, but if it does, it's good to be reminded that there is no one way to grieve, and that your way, is the best way for you.
Please find ways to connect with others and develop a safe place to express grief, so as to feel less isolated and more supported.
There can be many shades of emotions on Mother's Day. Different paths for everyone- some lead to joy, and others lead to heartache. The gift is to be able to compassionately recognize all of these pathways and honor them.
Mother's Day is a day to celebrate a mother or mother figure. It's a day that is expected to be filled with joy and celebration, yet for many, this day brings heartache and sadness.
How can we support and acknowledge the heartache of those grieving on this day? With love, compassion and empathy.
Reach out to those suffering this Mother's Day. Let them know you are thinking about them. Acknowledge that this may be difficult, and you are there to support them.
Mother's Day can be very hard and emotional for the mothers whose children have died - regardless of the age, those struggling to become mothers, those
that are estranged or have a fragmented relationship with a mother or mother figure, those that lovingly chose adoption, and often step moms.....Obviously this is not the full list of those impacted by grief on Mother's Day.
As we know, death is such a difficult subject to broach, but so is acknowledging grief. However, when a mother is grieving the death of her child, regardless if miscarriage, stillbirth, or death at any age, remember that the simplest gestures of acknowledgement are quite meaningful.
Acknowledgement can come in many ways, such as saying the name of the child, continuing to keep in touch with the bereaved mother, regardless of how much time has passed, and its valuable to remember that a mother will never "get over the death of her child". Become willing to learn tools on how to offer support.
Remember, that in a mother's darkest hours, the gift of listening and being emotionally present, allows for the waves of grief to witnessed and walked through.
What is International Bereaved Mother's Day?
Every year, on the first Sunday in May, (May 7, 2023), International Bereaved Mother's Day was created as a way to honor mothers whose child has died. It's also a day to recognize women who cannot be a mother due to infertility or other reasons.
Why was International Bereaved Mother's Day started?
Because "one of the hardest days for many women around the world is Mother's Day". As the world is busy preparing to honor moms, thousands of women might meet his day can be with dread, despair, loneliness, and sadness.
There are places where mothers can share openly and know there are others women that understand what they are feeling. Reach out and connect with other bereaved mothers and step into the healing power of community.
Reimagine, is hosting it's 4th Annual Bereaved Mother's Day Conference on Sunday, May 7, 2023. https://letsreimagine.org/76768/4th-annual-bereaved-mothers-day-conference
Honor a bereaved mother and recognize all that she has gone through within her heart and soul.
Please share with any bereaved mom that may be willing to know more.
It's hard, and scary to know what to say or do when a mom is grieving. Of course we care, but we are often not sure what to say, and we certainly do not want to upset a grieving mother.
However, most likely, a mother would appreciate you saying her child's name, even if she cries. A mom wants to know her child has not been forgotten, especially on this day.
If you have a special memory of their child, ask the mom if you may share it with her. Even if her response if no, you were willing, and perhaps this will open the door for this opportunity in the future.
Learn to compassionately listen to the mom. Do not share another persons experience with a child's death. Let her know you value what and how she is feeling and you are willing to listen, even if there is silence.
Remember that even though a bereaved mothers child has died.....she is still a mom! Nothing will take this role away, not even death.
If the mom is receptive, please offer a heartfelt hug.
Please do not "bright side" her child's death. It is not a blessing, lesson, or for the best.
Recognize that Mother's Day may be difficult, and that you will support her how she wants to be supported.
Being willing to recognize a bereaved mother, is showing that you care about her and her child.
Have a child die, regardless of the age, is heartbreaking. As many say....it goes against the natural order of life and no one wants to be part of this club.
If we are aware, we recognize there are bereaved parents in each of our lives, and for the bereaved parents, those people that know how to be of emotional and physical support for the family, is helpful, needed and often welcomed.
In this article, a bereaved parent shares what helped them in their darkest hour:
Empathy - it can be hard or it can be easy. I think it depends on the situation and the understanding on how to be empathetic in varying experiences.
Here are a few tips on ways to show empathy to a bereaved person:
know more about their loved one and supporting them.
Let's face it - It is not always easy to know how to support a friend that may be grieving her mom on Mother's Day.
What do we say?
How do we say it?
What if my friend cries when I say something?
What if I make my friend feel worse?
I understand this fear, as most of us haven't had any education explaining how to act, or what to say. So often, we say or do nothing at all. I can tell you from experience, this is not a way to treat a friend, especially a friend that is grieving on Mother's Day.
With this being said, learning to be the friend that reaches out to say "Im here for you and I will help support you the best I can", is powerful.
Support can mean different things for each person - so it's always good to ask if this works for them at this time.
Some ideas that may be comfortable for some grievers are:
asking if they'd like to get out of the house for coffee/lunch,
perhaps it's just being willing to share your shoulder to cry on
or it may be the simple, yet profound act, of being able to listen to how they feel, or to stories they want to share.
Check in on your friend frequently and remember, "Friends allow friends grieve the way they need to grieve".
Grieving a mother, a mother figure, being unable to become a mother, or grieving a mother relationship that was difficult, can make Mother's Day hurt.
Each of these experiences are valid, and they all deserve acknowledgement of the pain, sadness and heartache.
Grief can be confusing and complicated, and sometimes we may not even recognize that some emotions we feel on this day, actually have to do with grief.
It's important to understand that the length of time that has passed since a death or a loss, does not mean you cannot still grieve. This is especially true when ones grief has not had the opportunity to be fully witnessed and honored.
Feelings may come and go, but holidays, including Mother's Day, may bring up memories and emotions from the past. It's important to be gentle on yourself, and find a person whom you can trust to share and seek outside help to get additional support.
There are many resources that will fully recognize your grief, and can help you to find tools that will help you to feel and understand your emotions and to walk forward with the pain.
90% of people think it's important to talk about EOL wishes with loved ones.
27% of people have actually had these conversations.
1 in 5 said they avoided the subject out of worry about upsetting loved ones.
Majority say they want to die at home, but 60% die in hospitals/institutions.
It is clear that we have a problem about engaging in EOL care conversations!
Studies show that when loved ones engage in meaningful EOL conversations, 1. There is less guilt and depression for the survivors.
2. Thinking about these issues before a medical crisis, allows loved ones to make decisions based on values and wishes, instead of stress and fear.
3. Take time beforehand to discover what you want to address.
4. Seek guidance - either The Conversation Project or a Death Doula, that can help with education, knowledge and direction.
5. List of helpful questions that The Conversation Project suggest:
As EOL conversations can be uncomfortable, and hard to know where or how to start, The Conversation Project is a great resource for questions to get the conversations started. Here's what they suggest:
"Now, how do you begin a conversation? This list doesn’t cover everything, but here are some things you can say to start talking".
• “I need your help with something.”
• “Can you and I have a conversation about ______________?”
• “I was thinking about what happened to ___________, and it made me realize .”
• “Even though I’m OK right now, I’m worried that ____________, and I want to be prepared. Can we talk about some things that matter to me?”
• “Will you help me think about my future?”
• “I heard about the Conversation Project and answered some of their questions about things that matter to me when it comes to my care through the end of life. I’d like to talk to you about it.”
• “When ___________ died, do you think their wishes and priorities were respected toward the end of their life?”
"Here is a list of some other things you may want to cover when you talk":
• Do you have any worries about your health?
• What do you need to address to feel more prepared (examples: finances, property, legal documents, relationships, health care situations)?
• Do you have any fears, concerns, or mistrust about where or how you receive health care?
• Who do you want (or not want) to be involved in your health care?
• When you look ahead to the future, are there important events or dates you hope you’re there for?
• Are there kinds of treatment you would want or not want (examples: resuscitation attempts, ventilation, feeding tube)?
• If your health condition changed, when would it be OK with you to shift from trying to cure an illness to trying to enjoy the end of life as much as possible?
In this article, BJ Miller, whom is now a physician, shared that he's been on both sides of the doctor-patient relationship, and how an almost fatal accident was the beginning of his relationship with death.
BJ's story is very powerful. You see, in college, he and some friend thought it was a great idea to climb atop a parked commuter train. However, when BJ stood up, an electrical current entered his arm, blew down his legs, and then out of his feet, which resulted in the loss of both legs, around the knees.
The journey to physician - hospice and palliative doctor - began with his experience in the healthcare system, which is designed to treat diseases, and not people.
This brought BJ to want to encourage others to shift their perspectives about EOL.
Here are some of his thoughts on what really matters at the EOL:
1. Tease out the unnecessary suffering out of the system.
2. Tend to dignity, by way of the senses, the body, the aesthetic realm (which is design).
3. Set our sights on well-being, so life, health and healthcare become more about making life more wonderful, rather than just less horrible.
4. Become patient-centered, not disease centered - a human centered care model.
5. Caring becomes a creative, generative, even playful act- the whole person.
6. Create spaces that allow life to play itself all the way out, so that dying becomes part of the process.
Just think, if we as a society, transformed how we experienced EOL, we might begin to shift the narrative to just how profound and beautiful these events can be.
Conversations about death and dying are a crucial part of life. One doesn't need to be nearing EOL to have these conversations.
In fact, it's been shown that the earlier one engages in these topics, even if young and healthy, fear and anxiety is reduced, as there is time to process and think about EOL care wishes.
"Deficiencies in medical training, lack of confidence, limited time, and cultural barriers all contribute to the paucity of these important discussions".
When society looks at death as a "medical failure", we have a fundamental problem with how we (society) looks at death.
This illustrates just how needed these types of conversations are. Seeking those that are trained on how to talk about EOL will only help to benefit all of us.
When we see death as a natural, and normal, part of life, we then begin to experience it with more serenity and equanimity.
This isn't to say that there will be no sadness or heartache....honest, compassionate and effective EOL conversations won't remove these emotions. They will however provide opportunities for meaningful conversations among loved ones, so that the focus stays on the wishes and the comfort of the dying.
Ask your physician about how they approach EOL conversations, and if you feel you would like more guidance and education, then reach out to a death doula.
This article is on EOL Care Conversations in geriatric physicians. However, these points apply to all of us, regardless of age and health, whom want to engage in EOL conversations.
First, the physicians recognize that these conversations are valuable, yet this article states that very few actually have these conversations because of their lack of training and feeling unsure of how to have end-of-life care conversations.
Think about this....these are doctors, whom must of us look to for advice, yet they too, are uncomfortable on how to approach such topics. They also have limited time to spend with families, are uncomfortable of possible disagreements among family members and the patient, and not knowing when the time is right. It is never too early to begin these discussion, as we can then normalize these topics and begin to take time to process our wishes.
However, much training is needed for the physicians to have these types of conversations, as it's paramount to the well-being of the patients, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Death Doulas are a great resource, and if physicians and medical offices were willing to bring on DD's as part of their staff, these would be incredible resources that have been trained to have these conversations, and have the spend time answering questions and providing guidance.
In my opinion, we would then be meeting the needs of engaging in these powerful and profound discussions.
"Emotional Intelligence (E.I.) is the ability to identify, and regulate ones emotions, and to understand the emotions of others".
Most of the time, emotional intelligence is referred to the ability to build relationships, defuse conflict, reduce team stress and improve job satisfaction.
But, I am not talking about E.I. in the workforce.......I am talking about we can use E.I. in learning how to "do death differently".
Emotions guide us throughout our lives, but they especially do so when we are engaging with end-of-life matters.
Understanding the "5 pillars of emotional intelligence" may give you a deeper understanding of just how powerful E.I. is when we apply to both life, and death experiences.
The 5 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence In End-of-Life (EOL) Transformations:
Experience the power of EOL E.I. Contact Dee Dee
What is your life goal?
If so, what if you chose to focus your life's-goal energy to developing a deeper understanding of how emotional intelligence effects your reactions to life experiences?
Tips to improving emotional intelligence throughout your life and end-of-life experiences:
End-of-life E.I. can be tricky and it's important to be guided through the varying nuances of emotions and death, dying and grief.
Contact me to find out more about how emotional intelligence can transform your life.
How Internal Medicine Residents Deal with Death and Dying: a Qualitative Study of Transformational Learning and Growth
For medical trainees, the common source of work related stress, is death!
Death creates distress for medical students and residents, because they are not trained in how to manage their emotions, and their grief, when a patient dies.
The study, which includes medical residents, and recent graduates in the UAE. Don't let the location of the UAE make you feel the USA is any better. Death is death, regardless of nationality, and the way society responds to death and dying, is mostly universal, with a few exceptions.
In this study, the residents participated in transformational learning about their experiences with death and dying, and five major themes emerged, they are:
Education and Experience
The study showed, that as the residents progressed in transformational learning, they were able to improve their end-of-life (EOL) patient care!
This transformational growth enabled them to effectively care for the dying and their families.
This is profound! When medical staff also gains EOL understanding and knowledge, they are better able to support the dying, and not add to any additional suffering for all involved.
Begin now, and see the power of EOL transformational learning!
Death changes the way we view life.
Death makes clear just how precious life is.
Death changes the way we act (at least for a while).
Death is the ultimate transformative experience!
Death is powerful to those dying and those living. It helps bring into focus what is important and what is not. It shines a light on the way the dying lived life, and it is profound and life altering.
Discover through transformational learning just how important building healthy relationships with death is.
Don't wait until an illness, medical crisis, dying or death occurs. Participate in your own journey with end-of-life relationships.
Stephen Jenkinson is an amazingly wise man when it comes to death and dying.
Yes, he is outspoken, sometimes a little rough around the edges, but he's passionate about "dying wise" in a world that sees death as a failure, "an annihilation of life".
The more we become death literate, the more we see this statement as false, as death is part of life, it's natural, and of course difficult, but it is what will happen to each of us.
I hope you take the time to listen to this podcast, and then decide you want to "die wise".
When individuals and families choose to be death positive, it means the needs of the dying, or the dead, along with the family, comes first.
There are many reasons as to why being Death Positive is so important -
Most people, if they talk about it, want to experience death, dying and grief, in a healthier manner.
People also want to be more involved in the death of their loved ones, which means they want to be able to approach these life events with compassion and love.
In addition to, being Death Positive means taking a proactive role in learning as much as you can so that you can make more informed decisions.
Relieve as much anxiety as possible through a thorough, and calm, exploration of your relationship to death, so you can take time needed to outline medical and after death care wishes.
Leaving concrete and direct legal paperwork for your loved ones, reduces their anxiety, because they understand they are following up on your wants.
Take the opportunity to discover what you, and your loved ones, personal preferences and wishes are.
Take the time to discuss with loved ones, making sure they are comfortable with following through on what brings you peace and comfort.
Truly understand that by getting involved now, before a crisis, and gaining end-of-life knowledge, you are going to help ease the minds of the loved ones that are with you until the end.
What does it mean to be death positive? It means that it is NOT taboo, or morbid, to speak about death, dying and grief.
Death is 100% guaranteed, in all societies. Everyone will die. It's a fact, and one that we cannot keep ignoring.
According to "The Order of a Good Death", here are the tenets of the death positive movement:
We can begin to make a difference in our loved ones lives, if we too, are willing to become more death positive. Let's be the ripple effect of love and honor in death events.
What is death literacy? It is defined as "set of knowledge and skills that make it possible to gain access to understand, and act upon, end-of-life and death care options".
When individuals and families take the time to learn more about end-of-life (EOL) options, they are able to make medical, and non-medical, decisions (before a crisis occurs) that align with your values and wishes.
Communities that have high levels of death literacy are knowledgeable about options and how they might impact their loved ones, which then helps to make informed choices that we align with quality of life and care and compassionate care when dying.
The more we know, the better decisions we can make for ourselves and our loved ones.
Death touches all of us. None of us are immune, and no one will escape death.
But when someone is dying, or has died, we often approach these experiences with little or unhelpful knowledge from past experiences.
It doesn't have to be this way, as we can gather and learn to "do death differently". We can discuss fears and anxieties, while gaining new perspectives and knowledge to experience these profound events with love and compassion.
We can learn more about death, dying and grief, so that we can become more literate, thus reducing the anxieties and fears about end-of-life. This understanding can help us reduce stress and unnecessary medical interventions and approach life, and death, experiences with honor and respect.
Together, we can become death literate and transform our relationships with death, dying and grief.
First, we are all mortal, and none of us will live forever.
Second, based on the first, we will all die. I know this sentence seems harsh and aggressive, but it is the truth.
The other truth is that we need to talk about death because it is a normal part of each of our lives. It is not morbid, it is natural. It's not macabre, it's just unfamiliar, which brings fear and anxiety to these topics.
The more we talk, learn and explore death and dying, the less frightening these become and the more natural it feels because we become more familiar with it, and the emotions that often accompany these experiences.
Feelings too, are also very natural and normal with death, dying and grief. The more we share, with those that are able to receive openly, the more we feel connected in these often difficult times.
Engaging often in these conversations will help to bring ease and comfort, not only to you, but those dying and those that are supporting the dying.
Think of the "ripple effect" you can bring to these profound experiences when your hard work of end-of-life exploration can bring love and peace, to both life, and death.
Death is the only common denominator that all humans have with each other. It is a 100% guaranteed, with no escape clauses and no buyouts.
Yet, many of us have not openly participated in conversations about End-of-Life (EOL). For most, death conversations are normally avoided because they are still thought of as morbid or taboo.
However, when we avoid talking about death, we deny ourselves the opportunities to raise our own awareness, sharing fears and anxieties and honing in on what EOL wishes and desires bring us the most comfort.
Starting now, and not waiting until one is diagnosed or dying is near, allows us and our loved ones to take the time needed to discuss and honor decisions that best align with our values and morals.
Death Doulas, AKA Death Midwives, are getting individuals, families and communities to begin thinking and talking about death differently.
These, non-medical professionals, have been trained and certified in End-of-Life process, which helps to bring continuity of care in often unmet needs of the dying. Find a credentialed EOL Doula
Western society is often death phobic, and we do not like to discuss, in depth, such things as dying, death or grief. However, this creates a problem because we are ill-prepared and unfamiliar with the process or how to meet the needs of the dying individual.
However, there are a new group of individuals that want to help change how end-of-life is experienced. These Death Doula's can help educate, bring wisdom and as much serenity as possible to these profound, life changing experiences.