Are you grief literate? Take the Grief Literacy Test to find out.

With mass shootings fresh in the nation’s cross hairs, it’s more important than ever to test our emotional intelligence about grief—and learn how to help those who are mourning the loss of someone they loved.

Why is this test important? Because we all play a direct role in each griever’s ability to survive the journey. The more support one receives, the better they do in the long haul. A griever who has little to no support can become stuck, resulting in millions of dollars in lost wages, loss of health, loss of family, and worse.

Following is a multiple choice Grief Literacy Test to see how much (or how little) you understand about grief. Wondering how your family and friends would score? Pass this test on to them after taking it yourself.

TEST DIRECTIONS:

For each question, choose one of the four choices that best describes how you would react in that situation. When finished, add the numbers representing your answers together to see your grief literacy score.

Your coworker just lost a teenage daughter in a car accident. What do you say to him? 

  1. I avoid him altogether.
  2. I tell him to look at the bright side, they have other children and can always have more.
  3. I awkwardly admit that I have no idea how he feels and pretend I need to leave for a meeting.
  4. I listen, offer lots of support, and hug frequently.

Your employee recently lost her young son to an illness. When should she return to normal?

  1. By the time she returns to work.
  2. Within 6 months.
  3. After the first year.
  4. She’ll never be the same.

Your sister lost her husband last year, and still cries frequently. How do you react?

  1. I avoid her altogether.
  2. I get impatient and tell her it’s time to move on.
  3. I offer to set her up on a blind date or suggest she try on-line dating.
  4. I offer tissue and a warm hug.

Your neighbor recently lost her daughter to suicide, and her beautiful yard is now overgrown. What should you do?

  1. It’s her yard and she should get out of bed to take care of it.
  2. The fresh air will be good for her, so I might hint that it’s become an eyesore.
  3. I might offer to help her, but I won’t do it for her.
  4. I gather up my garden gloves and tools and just get to work. She won’t have the energy to tend to her yard for a very long time, and I like the exercise.

Your friend lost a son to homicide two years ago, and the son’s birthday is next week. Will you acknowledge it?

  1. His birthday doesn’t mean anything to me.
  2. No, because it’s been two years already.
  3. I think it’s more important to distract my friend from thinking about it.
  4. I’m aware that it is a painful time. I’ll help my friend find a meaningful way to honor her son, and offer a hug every chance I get.

Your coworker’s daughter just died of a drug overdose. Should you say something?

  1. It was a drug overdose, so it doesn’t matter.
  2. No, because I’m too scared my own child will do the same.
  3. I feel bad, but don’t know what to say so I will probably just mumble something about how tragic it is.
  4. I would tell her that I’m there for her, hug her frequently, and take personal time to research for possible resources that can help.

The holidays are coming up, and your widowed uncle is feeling sentimental. What are some ways you can help him?

  1. He is an old man anyway and will soon die, too, so I’ll leave him alone.
  2. I avoid mentioning his wife out of fear that I might remind him that she is gone.
  3. I don’t mention his wife, but I do make him a batch of their favorite cookies.
  4. I mention his wife a lot, give him every opportunity to talk about her, and offer him frequent hugs.

Your brother lost his wife. You just lost your neighbor.  Are they the same?

  1. I don’t care that my brother lost his wife. My neighbor was my best friend, and my pain is the only thing that counts right now.
  2. My brother and his wife argued a lot, so I think my loss is worse.
  3. If my loss feels this painful, his loss must be terrible, too.
  4. All losses should be respected and honored without judgement or comparison, for love and loss come in many forms.

Do you think closed Facebook groups for grievers are helpful?

  1. Those groups are nothing more than one big pity party.
  2. I don’t understand why those groups need to be closed, but I’m glad I don’t have to listen to their sad stories.
  3. I don’t understand their purpose but if they help, then that could only be a good thing.

Those groups are wonderful because they offer a free, safe place for grievers to express their emotions, which is one of the first step towards healing.

Do you think grief support groups and gatherings are worthwhile?

  1. Absolutely not. It’s nothing more than a pity party and huge downer.
  2. I don’t know anything about it, but it must be pretty depressing.
  3. I can’t imagine that it would offer anything fun, but it helps people, then that’s good.
  4. I’m thankful all those people share their journeys of loss and hope so openly. It helps people feel less alone, and gives them hope that they can survive.

How well do you understand the grief journey?

  1. I don’t need to understand it. Grief is a part of life, so what’s the big deal?
  2. I believe it’s a 5-stage journey, and if someone doesn’t experience those stages, then they’re doing it wrong.
  3. I believe that every loss is different, and that each griever may experience different stages as they move through their journey.
  4. I believe that every grief journey is as unique as one’s fingerprint, no two are alike. I believe that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and that the journey sometimes feels like a never ending roller coaster on steroids.

SCORING:

If you scored 44:  You are a fully grief literate, compassionate role model for how to support those who are mourning.

If you scored 30-43:  You don’t fully understand the significant effects a devastating loss can have, but your compassion and open mind are a wonderful start.

If you scored below 30:  You are shamefully illiterate.  But there is hope for you. Because no words will fix grief, simply memorize and apply the following three steps to every griever you encounter:

  • Step #1: LISTEN
  • Step #2: HUG
  • Step #3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 above.

The idea behind this Grief Literacy Test is not to prove someone else’s illiteracy.  Rather, it’s an opportunity to examine where we can improve our own.

It’s hard to see people in pain, and it’s human nature to avoid things we can’t fix. But when we learn to support those in mourning, we become givers of kindness and messengers of hope—gifts that will sustain them as they learn to live with their loved one in their hearts instead of their arms.

www.GriefDiaries.com

Surviving Loss of a Partner

Surviving Loss of a Partner

Death of a partner is something nobody can really prepare for.

Your partner is the one person you confided in; the person you shared inside jokes with; the person with whom you spent most of your time.

Losing a partner is like losing half of yourself.

While most of us understand that sorrow and sadness are part of loss, there’s one emotion that’s rarely talked about.

That emotion is loneliness.

How do you manage the loneliness? How do you begin to rebuild without the person who completed you?

Below are 5 tips to help.

Keep Yourself Busy

It sounds cliché, yet the age-old advice of keeping your mind busy is solid. Loneliness creeps in when you have nothing to occupy or distract your thoughts. By minimizing the time you’re alone with nothing to do, you’ll minimize the time you feel lonely.

That said, it’s impossible to keep busy all the time, and frankly, it’s unhealthy as well.

So live by the rule of saying “yes.” When a friend offers to take you for coffee, say, “Yes.”

When a family member invites you over for dinner, say, “Yes.”

When an opportunity to get out of the house arises, say, “Yes!”

Although you won’t always feel like it, most of the time, accepting an invitation is good for you.

Loneliness is normal

It’s good to distract your mind, yet important to remember that you need to embrace loneliness, too. The idea behind keeping yourself busy is to offer a short reprieve from the loneliness, not to forget about it. Not dealing with your grief is a slippery slope that can lead to a number of issues.

It’s vital to understand that loneliness is a normal emotion. Recognize that no matter how much time you spend around others, loneliness can still ensue, and that’s totally fine.

Allow yourself to remember 

Your loneliness is a reminder of the wonderful relationship you shared with your partner. Celebration those memories with fondness.

Pushing memories to the back of your mind can backfire by negatively impacting you in in the future. It seems easier to not honor those memories, and that’s fine for a time. But in the long run, remembering the good times is important.

Turning painful memories into welcome reminders is hard at first, and may even seem counterintuitive. But by training your mind to turn negative feelings into positive moments of remembrance, you’ll begin to process the loss while keeping your partner’s memory alive in your heart.

Consider creating a dedicated space to celebrate the life of your partner. Many choose a memorial keepsake urn they can display prominently as a reminder that love lives on.

Don’t stop doing activities you enjoyed together

It may be tempting to stop the activities you once enjoyed together. This is completely normal. But doing so will help mitigate feelings of loneliness.

If your preferred activity was a group activity, that same group can be a circle of support. If you used to do things as a duo, adopt a friend who will enjoy it, too. Maybe your partner’s passion will live on in your friend.

Further, by continuing activities you once enjoyed with your partner, you’re likely to find others who share the same passion. The sense of belonging can be a wonderful remedy for loneliness.

This might bring up painful memories at first, but find peace in knowing that you’re continuing the rituals and traditions the two of you enjoyed.

Try things you didn’t do together 

While you should continue to do things you did as a couple, it’s important to begin making your own way in the world. Exploring new passions or reigniting old ones not only will keep you busy, it will also help give you an identity of your own.

It might feel strange to start new hobbies and add new strings to your bow, but it’s important to note that companionship doesn’t mean completion.

Simply put, you are your own person; you are now, and you were when your partner was alive. You may not have embraced other passions before your partner passed, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t there.

If you’ve lost a partner, I offer my deepest condolences. Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things any person could face.

Just know that things will get better, allow yourself to grieve, and give yourself time to enjoy the sun again.

by Nat Juchems 

Surviving Loss of a Partner

 

Author’s Bio:

Nat Juchems is the Marketing Director at Green Meadow Memorials, Nat helps those grieving the loss of a loved find the right memorial to cherish.

Before becoming the Marketing Director at Green Meadow Memorials, Nat worked for six years in the memorials ecommerce industry as a Marketing Director and Ecommerce Director, using his skill set to manage powerful paid search and organic search campaigns as well as implement merchandising strategies and manage the software development teams that made everything work.

A picture worth a thousand words

Faces of Resilience

They say one picture is worth a thousand words because it captures complex emotions in a single shot.

Our newest book is filled with photos that are priceless.

Faces of Resilience is a stunning gallery of nearly 200 portraits taken by Barbara J HopkinsonPRae M Miliotis, and myself that showcase both the commonality and individuality of a timeless journey experienced by people around the world.

Traveling the country to conferences, annual gatherings and even support groups, each subject was invited to write something meaningful on his or her skin to portray how grief has influenced their emotions while serving as a visual reminder that the power of resilience lies within us all.

Thousands of photos later, the top 200 made it into our first published collection.

Faces of Resilience

It’s our hope that this influential collection tells a story better than written words, and serves as an agent of change by stimulating conversations about a universal experience through love, loss, heartbreak, resilience and—ultimately—hope.

Faces of Resilience

Faces of Resilience

Faces of Resilience

Faces of Resilience

Now available on Amazon.

Faces of Resilience

By Lynda Cheldelin Fell

#FacesofResilience #healing #hope

Why Katy Perry got it wrong

Lauren Engle
Dear Katy Perry,
 
I know you meant well, but last night you got it wrong.
 
You told 27-year-old American Idol contestant Lauren Engle to be strong after she auditioned in memory of her husband.
 
Why does she need to be strong?
 
The poor girl is grieving her husband who has been dead less than two years.
 
Grieving the past and fearing the future, Lauren is doing her best just to get out of bed each morning.
 
You telling her to be strong is holding her down. It’s the same as telling her not to be a wimp. To quit crying. Don’t be a baby.
 
It’s sucking her hope up in a vacuum.
 
I know you meant well, Katy, but would you tell the families who lost a loved one in the New Zealand shooting to be strong?
 
Of course not.
 
Find that contestant, wrap your arms around her, and tell her that one day it won’t always feel so raw. But until then, it’s okay to cry.
 
Shared sorrow is half a sorrow—Finnish proverb. It means to support someone in their time of need. Because that gives them hope. It helps them go from zero to being their own hero.
 
With support and love, one day Lauren will be her own champion. Please don’t rob her of that opportunity.
 
Thank you.

Lynda Cheldelin Fell  XOXO

Lauren Engle

The power of joy to heal a broken heart.

Grief Diaries

I love babies. My babies. Your babies. Everybody’s babies.

There’s just something so wondrous about these tiny beings. They’re innocence and pure love rolled like a little magical burrito.

Once a week I sneak away from the office to volunteer in the neonatal ICU. I cuddle, feed, change diapers, and soothe.

As they look into my eyes, I know I’m holding future teachers, humanitarians, astronauts, Nobel prize winners, and world leaders.

I’m also holding future gang members, addicts, and lost souls.

Grief Diaries

It doesn’t matter who I’m holding because in that moment, I give as much love as I can and hope that my little imprint will carry them through life.

When I’m done, I leave with a heart full of gratitude because those tiny babies gave me so much more than I gave them.

They gave me joy.

Doing something that makes your heart sing is a powerful healing modality.

When heartbreak and sadness rule your world, do whatever it is that brings a smile to your face and lifts the heaviness of your heart.

If you don’t know what that is, then go find it. And don’t stop looking until you do.

Then do it as if your life depends on it.

Because it does.

-Lynda Cheldelin Fell XOXO

Why suffering yields the deepest lessons

Grief Diaries
I was asked this morning by a dear friend what the purpose of life is. Why is it some people face more heartache than seems fair?
 
Life unfolds differently for each of us. I believe we are here to learn lessons for our own growth. We don’t learn from the easy stuff, and great challenges often yield the deepest lessons.
 
Why, then, do some people go through life unscathed while others suffer greatly?
 
Sometimes we’re the pupil meant to learn something from our own suffering. Sometimes we’re the teacher imparting wisdom to those who witness our suffering.
 
When faced with great challenges, we have two options. One is to resist the change and stay outside immersed in the storm. Two is to surrender to something we can’t change, and tend to our wound inside. Once the storm has passed and the wound less raw, you can re-enter life using the wisdom you learned.
 
You are the author of your own life story. Every sentence, paragraph, and page from cover to cover. What do you want to write what has yet to be written? You alone get to decide.
 
My answer to the question about the purpose of life is that it’s a glorious and mysterious classroom. Sometimes we’re the pupil and sometimes the teacher.
 
It’s up to each of us what we teach and learn.
 
Lynda Cheldelin Fell XOXO
Grief Diaries

Employers don’t know what they don’t know

Grief Diaries

Her name was Kristen. As editor of Human Resources Executive magazine, she contacted me for an interview about employee grief two years ago. Her own story is startling and sad, yet I was moved by her courage to publish an article about a big problem.

Her story? She was covering an expo in Vegas when she got a call that changed her world: her husband died from a heart attack. In shock Kristen returned to her hotel, packed her bags, faced a sleepless night, grabbed a morning taxi, sat through security and then a 6-hour flight home in mind-numbing despair.

Because she had used up her FMLA leave caring for her father in hospice earlier that year, Kristen was left with the allotted 3 days of bereavement leave—the national standard.

Three days to plan a funeral. And attend.

Three days to mourn.

Three days to transition from two to one. No longer part of a pair.

Three days before returning to the demands of her job.

Three days.

It just feels wrong. Yet employers don’t know what they don’t know.

But we can help them. Together we can educate and inspire change for a better way.

How? Ask questions. Share experiences. Talk strategies. What kind of bereavement leave does your employer offer? If you don’t know, they probably don’t either.

Thankfully, they’re starting to listen. I just received word that Glen Lord and I will be presenting Managing Grief in the Workplace at a second national conference this year, this one in Salt Lake City.

I know we face tremendous work ahead. But it’s a challenge worth fighting.

Because employees are people. People matter.

You matter.

Together we can make change. And the world is starting to listen.

Lynda Cheldelin Fell

Grief Diaries

 

Why giving is good for the griever

Grief Diaries

The other day I was asked why I advocate for the bereaved to give to others as a way to heal. In the midst of autopilot, brain fog, and feeling utterly depleted before even getting out of bed, most have nothing left to give.

So here’s my explanation on why giving is good for the giver.

When one suffers a broken leg, it takes time for the body to heal. The fracture will always be there because once done, it can’t be undone, but strengthening the muscles and tissue around the break will help protect from further damage and promote healing.

Just like physical therapy is to broken bones, giving while grieving is therapy for the broken heart. It releases powerful dopamine and endorphins—a natural high, which are like little happy pills for brain pain. It’s also good for our body by reducing common grief banes—stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Does giving cure grief? No. Losing someone we love causes grief that cannot be undone. It is something we learn to live with moving forward. But we can soothe the rawness and strengthen the areas around the wound—our broken heart—through activities and actions such as giving.

What can you give when you feel empty inside? Give blood. Give a smile. Give a genuine compliment. Give blessing bags to the homeless. Give a car room to merge during rush hour. Give time at a homeless shelter, which serves as a powerful reminder that we’re not alone on the struggle bus. Give a hug.

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” In other words, helping others helps our own heart to heal. It truly does.

-Lynda Cheldelin Fell  XOXO

Grief Diaries
Giving is good for the giver

The gratitude jar in my heart

Grief Diaries

✔️Missing Aly.

✔️Mom’s out of the hospital and feeling a little stronger each day.

✔️Dad came through surgery with flying colors.

✔️Move Mom and Dad into new home next week.

✔️Brother’s radiation treatments should be done by Christmas.

♥Kids are all doing well and home for Thanksgiving weekend. My mama heart is happy.

♥A warm roof over our heads and a table full of delicious homemade food. My belly is happy.

♥A laughter-filled night playing games with 3 generations. My soul is happy.

♥Our youngest son’s physics GRE score for grad school were posted late last night—top 14% in nation. Our family is doing the happy dance.

Life will always bring sorrow, but it will also always bring blessings. It’s up to me which ones I count.

When life brings more sorrow than joy, I make little mental deposits into the gratitude jar I hold in my heart. Today, your name is on one of those deposit slips.

Thank you for being part of my world. I am truly thankful.

-Lynda Cheldelin Fell

Grief Diaries