Theoretical Perspectives Learning Activities Compiled

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Theoretical Perspectives Learning Activities Compiled by Jinny Tesiik, M.A., Bereavement Counselor. Used with permission

Activity 2: The Creative Expressions and Descriptions of Grief and Loss Directions: The sayings are separated with dashed lines. To prepare for the in-class activity, print the pages and cut on the dashed lines to separate each saying.

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Saying 1: Edgar N. Jackson “You and Your Grief” GRIEF is… Grief is the intense emotion that floods life when a person’s inner security system is shattered by an acute loss, usually associated with the death of someone important in his/her life. In more personal terms, grief is a young widow who must find a way to bring up her three children, alone. Grief is the angry reaction of a man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person. Grief is the little old lady who goes to the funeral of a stranger and does some unfinished business of her own feelings by crying her eyes out there; she is weeping for herself, for the event she is sure will come, and for which she has so little help in preparing herself. Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly alone for a few moments before she goes on about the tasks of the day; she knows that part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her daily work. Grief is the deep sympathy one person has for another when he wants to do all he can to help resolve a tragic experience. Grief is the silent, knifelike terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for years. Grief is the desperate longing for another whose loss you cannot learn to endure. Grief is teaching yourself how to go to bed without saying good night to the one who has died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to reorganize and redirect the energies of life. Grief is always more than sorrow. Bereavement is the event in personal history that triggers the emotion of grief Mourning is the process by which the powerful emotion is slowly and painfully brought under control. But when doctors speak of grief they are focusing on the raw feelings that are at the center of a whole process that engages the person in adjusting to changed circumstances. They are speaking of the deep fears of the mourner, of his prospects of loneliness, and of the obstacles he must face as he finds a new way of living.

Saying 2: Larry Anderson, Seattle P.I. Columnist “There is a terrible craving. Insatiable, never ending. It’s like that that feeling of being hungry for something but not knowing what it is. But this is deeper, more pervasive, more elusive. But I think I know what it is, it’s a craving for Margaret” Saying 3: C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed” “Grief and pain are the price we humans have to pay for the love and total commitment we have for another person. The more we love, the more we are hurt when we lose the object of our love. But if we are honest with ourselves, would we have it any other way?”

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Saying 4: Author unknown The agony is so great And yet I will stand it. Had I not loved so very much I would not hurt so much. But goodness knows, I will not Want to diminish that precious love By one fraction of an ounce. I will hurt, and I will be grateful to the hurt For it bears witness to The depth of our meanings. And for that I will be eternally grateful. Saying 5: William A Miller “When Going to Pieces Holds You Together” “Grief is an integral part of the process and experience of life. No human being exists who is immune to loss and the resultant dynamics of grief. As a matter of fact, to a lesser or greater degree, loss and grief are virtually an every-day occurrence for most of us.” Saying 6: Nina Petrulius – grief counselor “The grief process is a rite of passage. It is a time to bid farewell to the past and open oneself to the coming future. It helps us to let go of what is no longer with us, to come to terms with what was and more on.” Saying 7: Stephen Levine “Who Dies” “We are all in grief. All have experienced loss. Even if your loved ones are still alive, there is a place within of disappointment and loss because we live in a world where everything changes.”

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Saying 8: David Whyte, “The Well of Grief”

THE WELL OF GRIEF Those who will not slip beneath

the still surface on the well of grief turning downward through its black water

to the place we cannot breathe Will never know the source from which we drink,

the secret Water, cold and clear nor find in the darkness glimmering

the small round coins thrown by those who wished

for something else. Saying 9: Scott Peck, “People of the Lie” “It is often the most spiritually healthy and advanced among us who are called on to suffer in ways more agonizing than anything experienced by the more ordinary… Conversely, it is the unwillingness to suffer emotional pain that lies at the very root of emotional illness. Those who fully experience depression, doubt, confusion, and despair may be infinitely more healthy than those who are generally certain, complacent, and self-satisfied. The denial of suffering is, in fact, a better definition of illness than its acceptance.” Saying 10: Washington Irving “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” Saying 11: Howard Thurman “Meditations of the Heart”

I share with you the agony of your grief, The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.

I know I cannot enter all you feel Nor bear with you the burden of your pain;

I can but offer what my love does give: The strength of caring,

The warmth of one who seeks to understand The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss. This I do in quiet ways, That on your lonely path You may not walk alone.

 

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Saying 12: Eda LeShan, “On Living Your Life” “When someone dies whom I love, I allow my grief all the room it needs. Great waves of pain wash over me. When it subsides, I don’t try to shut it off. After a while the sharpest anguish softens, the waves of pain occur less frequently, and I go on with my life, never trying to deny the terrible hole left in my universe by my loss. Through this process of mourning, all the good memories begin to flow back and fill my life, and finally I find I’m a better person, doing more good in the world because the loved one is now a part of me.” Saying 13: Renee ‘Duvall “If I could bear the burden of your sorrow, I would. If I could, but for a minute, take away your pain and make it mine, I would. If I could tell you “there’s a reason for this”, I would. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that your life has been interrupted this way, how sorry I am that I can’t shelter you

from this. But I want you to know I’m here if you want to talk, if you need to cry, if you can find comfort in sharing silence

with me. I care.” Saying 14: Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis “I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action.” “What we would all like is the happy past restored. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But a spiral, am I going up or down? How often–will it be for always? How often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realize my loss till this moment?” “No one told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” “Sorrow turns out to be not a state but a process. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. Not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn’t a circular trench.”

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Saying 15: Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Gift from the Sea” “One learns to accept the fact that no permanent return is possible to an old form of relationship; more deeply still, that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth. All living relationships are in process of change, of expansion, and must perpetually be building themselves new forms.” Saying 16: Ruth Bender “Book of Qualities” GRIEF Before she came to this town Grief was a woman named Eliea. She was a potter, and she glazed her big-bellied pots with earth colors until they shone like dull bronze. She had four children. The daughters live inland now in the distant foothills, and the oldest son left the family as soon as he could get away. It was the young boy with the golden curls and the laughing eyes who gave her great joy. He loved the ocean. He was barely walking when he learned to swim and not much older when he started to sail. One day about two years ago the sailors brought his boat home empty. Never have I heard such sounds of weeping as when Grief found out her son had drowned. She screamed and howled. She stamped her feet and smashed her pots and bowls. She ate with all her fingers. She tore at her hair, and it grew wild and matted. She wandered from place to place with no sense of where she was or how she came there. One day Grief heard another woman cry out. She spoke with her. She listened to her story. Grief was surprised. She had never met anyone else who had suffered as she had. Together the women mourned their children, they wept and wept and wept and wept. In the morning Grief was washed clean of her tears. She came to our town and started to do her real work. Saying 17: J. Ruth Gendler, “The Book of Qualities” SUFFERING Suffering teaches philosophy on a part-time basis. She likes the icy days in February when she can stay home from school, make thick soups, and catch up on her reading. With her white skin and dark hair she even looks like winter. She has a slender face and dramatic cheekbones. Suffering’s reputation troubles her. Certain people adore her and talk about her as if knowing her gives them a special status. Other people despise her. When they see her across the aisle at the supermarket they look the other way. Even though Suffering is considered a formidable instructor, she is actually quite compassionate. She feels lonely around students who dislike her. It is even more painful to be around those who idealize her. She is proud only because she recognizes the value of her lessons.

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Saying 18: Chinese Proverb “You can’t prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.”

Saying 19: Angelo Patri “In one sense there is no death. The life of a soul on earth lasts beyond his departure. You will always feel that life touching yours, that voice speaking to you, that spirit looking out of other eyes, talking to you in the familiar things he/she touched, worked with, loved as familiar friends. He/She lives on in your life and in the lives of all others who know him/her.” Saying 20: Doug Manning in “Don’t Take My Grief Away” “A cut finger is numb before it bleeds, it bleeds before it hurts, it hurts until it begins to heal, it forms a scab and then a scar where the wound once was. Grief is the deepest wound you have ever had. Like the cut finger, it goes through stages and leaves a scar.” Saying 21: Anonymous It was only a kindly word And a word that was lightly spoken Yet not in vain, for it stilled the pain Of a heart that was nearly broken. Saying 22: Anonymous “In your heart, you probably realize that in time the sadness you are feeling will fade. But for now, it’s all right to hurt and I hurt with you.. It’s all right to cry, and I share your tears. So allow yourself to feel what comes naturally, But know that someday life will be better and it will be easier to smile.” Anonymous

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Saying 23: Anonymous “There is only one thing worse than speaking ill of the dead – and that is not speaking of the dead at all.” Saying 24: Joshua Loth Liebman “The function of friends is to be the sounding board for grief.” Saying 25: Ashleigh Brilliant “When death is eventually abolished, how will people ever understand what it was like to be mortal?”

 

Saying 26: Christopher Lucas, “The Silent Grief’ “Loss is difficult. People are irreplaceable. You have loved someone and that loved one is gone. That loss will not go away, nor can you expect it to. How important a role the sense of loss plays in your life is another matter. You can remember and have positive feelings for, the dead person without continuing to grieve.” Saying 27: Leo Buscallia, “Bus 9 to Paradise” “It was difficult to part with such a positive force in my life. But nothing is forever. In reality we never lose the people we love. They become immortal through us. They continue to live in our hearts and minds. They participate in our every act, idea, and decision. No one will ever replace them and in spite of the pain we are richer for all the years invested in them. Because of them, we have so much more to bring to our present relationships and all those to come.” Saying 28: Harriet Sarnoff Schiff “Understand and accept that for you there is still a future – one that can be as bright and good as you choose to make it. You have before you the rest of your life. What you do with it is entirely a matter of choice. There are no rules or laws that require you to mourn forever.”

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Saying 29: Historian Roy Nichols “The most beautiful people I have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Saying 30: Anonymous “Bereaved persons are like ducks: above the surface…looking composed and unruffled. Below the surface…Paddling like crazy!” Saying 31: Shakespeare, “Macbeth” “Give Sorrow words, the grief that does not speak knits up the o’re wrought heart and bids it break.”

 

Saying 32: Marcel Proust “There is no more ridiculous custom than the one that makes you express sympathy once and for all on a given day to a person whose sorrow will endure as long as life. Such grief, felt in such a way, is always present. It is never too late to talk about it, never repetitious to mention it again.”

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Saying 33: Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet” “Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow. And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again to your heart, and you shall see that, in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, “Joy is greater that sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at stand still and balanced. When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weight his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.” Saying 34: C.S. Lewis “Bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.” Saying 35: George F. Simons “The memory of past dark days is testament to the individual’s capacity to weather storms.”

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Saying 36: Brenda Neal, “There’s Always Hope”

Now whenever i see

dark clouds gathering

on far horizons i’m not

frightened- i’ve weathered other storms

their fury and power have slashed

through my life i’ve weathered those

i’ll weather others to come Saying 37: Brenda Neal “My life was suddenly divided into BEFORE and AFTER, and there was no going back to BEFORE. But then I realized I had a choice how to live the AFTER. I had to decide.” Saying 38: Axl Rose from Rolling Stone “You have to re-experience it and mourn what happened to you and grieve for yourself and nurture yourself and put yourself all back together.” Saying 39: D.H. Lawrence “And dimly she realized one of the great laws of the human soul: that when the emotional soul receives a wounding shock, which does not kill the body, the soul seems to recover as the body recovers. But this is only appearance. It is really only the mechanism of the reassumed habit. Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst.”

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Saying 40: John Brantner “Only people who avoid love can avoid grief. The point is to learn from it and remain vulnerable to love.” Saying 41: R. Coles “Sorrow may be fated, but to survive and grow is an achievement all it’s own”.

Saying 42: Stephen Levine “Grief is the rope burns left behind when what we have held to most dearly is pulled out of reach, beyond our grasp.” Saying 43: John Bradshaw “Losses are a necessary part of the human condition. To live well is to grieve well. Everything you have ever done has ended. Life is a prolonged farewell. Grief is the process that finishes things. The end of grief work is to be born again. So, to live well is to grieve well”. Saying 44: Joshua Loth Liebman “The function of friends is to be the sounding board for grief.” Saying 45: Unknown “Grief work is like winding a ball of string. You start with an end and wind and wind, then the ball slips through your fingers and rolls across the floor; some of your work is undone, but not all. You pick it up and start over again, but never do you have to begin again at the end of the string. The ball never completely unwinds; you’ve made some progress.”

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Saying 46: Harriet Sarnoff Schiff “Understand and accept that for you there is still a future – one that can be as bright and good as you choose to make it. You have before you the rest of your life. What you do with it is entirely a matter of choice. There are no rules or laws that require you to mourn forever.” Saying 47: Unknown “Grief rewrites your address book.” Saying 48: Unknown “In grief, one can endure the day, just the day. But when one also tries to bear the grief ahead, one cannot compass it. As for happiness, it can only be the ability to experience the moment. It is not next year that life will be so flawless and if we keep trying to wait for next year’s happiness, the river of time will wind past and we shall not have lived at all.”

 

Saying 49: Dr. Joyce Brothers, “Widowed” “I will always have a pocket of sorrow in my heart, but that will not keep me from plunging into life again. It will make me value every living minute, because I know how precious each one is.” Saying 50: Old Chinese Proverb “We can’t prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over our heads but we can keep them from making nests in our hair.”

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Saying 51: Stephanie Ericsson, “The Agony of Grief’ “What is there to grief? Grief is a tidal wave that overtakes you, smashes down upon you with unimaginable force, sweeps you up into darkness, where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces, only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped, and unwittingly better for the wear.” Saying 52: John Claypool “From our earliest days we are all persons of sorrow. We are all acquainted with grief But if we are willing, the experiences of grief can deepen and widen our ability to participate in life. We can become more grateful for the gifts we have been given, more open-handed in our handling of the events of life, more sensitive to the whole mysterious process of life, and more trusting in our adventure with God”.

 

 

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