Prolonged Grief / Violent Death



I received an E-mail from a person suffering from prolonged grief, unable to move forward years after the deaths of loved ones. I asked my grief counselor friend Marty Tousley to reply to the letter. Here, in part, is her compassionate response:

"It is never too late to do the work of mourning. When the unfinished business of loss is getting in the way of living your life, it is always wise to pay it the attention it deserves, and if necessary, to seek outside, professional help in doing so. If you had a broken arm or leg, you wouldn’t think twice about seeking medical attention, yet here you are with a broken heart and you’re expecting to be able to “fix” it all by yourself.

Effective grief work is not done alone. Private, solitary activities such as reading and writing are wonderful, but it’s also helpful to work with others through talking, participating in bereavement counseling or finding support in a group. Reaching out to others is often very difficult when you’re struggling with grief, but experience has taught us that in grief, the more support and understanding we have around us, the better we will cope.

Rather than worrying whether or not it will help, you might consider counseling as a precious gift you can give to yourself. Effective counseling truly can change your life--and for the better.

I am reminded of an interesting article I read recently (in the Winter 2007 issue of the Wings Newsletter) entitled "Feeling the Agony of Sibling Death: My Story" by Diana Papilli. Describing how she came to terms with the violent murder of her brother twenty years before, Diana writes:

. . . I followed some early advice. I allowed myself to feel all of my feelings: anger, hatred, revenge, sorrow, pity, disgust, grief, regret, resentment and others. However, I did not wallow in them; not for long, anyway. I let them be and then let them pass . . .

I [also] used the services of a professional counselor. I did not seek him initially for my grief, yet all of my experiences came into those sessions with me. My grief helped shape both the things inside me I wanted to keep and wanted to release. A detached but compassionate counselor can go a long way in helping overcome the most difficult of obstacles. Grief support groups offer similar benefit.

Many years have passed and I sometimes have to revisit those feelings. I do not treat them as evil robbers at my threshold. Instead, I treat them as necessary assistants, showing me where I need to work next. Living a decent, joyous life despite John’s murder is the best tribute I can give to my brother. He wouldn’t want anything less.

Go to next page: Thoughts of Suicide During Grief

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Christine (at) The Grieving Heart (dot) info 

A Word About E-mail: One way to decrease SPAM caused by Internet bots is to deactivate the live address link. You can still contact me by typing this address into your own e-mail program using @, a period, and no spaces, the standard e-mail format. Thank you.

Note to Visitors:
I read and respond to grief email at the end of each month when I update this site. If you need a more timely response, please visit a well moderated grief healing discussion group. It is free to use and requires registration to participate. I am not part of this group, but certified grief counselors are there to help, support and comfort grievers and those who love them. Because the counselors lost funding for the site, they are grateful for voluntary donations.
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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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