Grief & Loss

First, let me welcome you to my page on Grief Support. If you are reading this then chances are you have lost someone or something dear to you. I sincerely hope you will continue reading and I hope you will consider contacting me to discuss some of the possible ways I may be able to work with you in the coming weeks and months to help you to heal and recover from your grief.

Grief is a common human experience.


I have always said, ‘if we live long enough, grief will pay us a visit’. Grief is not limited to losing a loved one through death. We grieve from loss of any and every kind. People of all ages grieve; people of all races grieve. Men, women, adolescents, and older persons grieve. Single people grieve, married people grieve; straight people grieve, LGBTQ+ people grieve. Moreover, everyone grieves differently. No two human beings grieve the same exact way.

Factors that indicate that individuals are experiencing grief can vary from person to person, even if two or three people are in the same family and bear the same relationship to the person who has passed away. There are a variety of emotions and feelings.


Some people cry and mourn, especially in the face of the death of a loved one. Some people do not cry or mourn at all. People sometimes withdraw; they may stay in places of isolation and cease communicating.


Some people will require the opposite: they may panic if they are left alone and may not want to sleep in a room by themselves.


An important thing to remember is that people who are grieving loss of any kind can display unkind, unsociable and unthoughtful behaviour.


If you experience this, please try as much as possible not to use harsh speech or tell people to stop crying or to ‘pull themselves together’. People who are grieving and those with broken hearts are usually unable to ‘pull themselves together’.


It is difficult at times for people severely affected by grief to shower, eat or have any interest in anything other than focusing on the loss that is now affecting their lives.


There are also differences in the way society will react to loss. The death of a mother, father, son, daughter, husband or wife will fit the category of highest regard from family members, friends, colleagues, church members and people in general.


Even brothers and sisters, or nephews or nieces and in-laws do not in all cases and in all situations draw forth a deep empathy and understanding of the impact of those losses on relatives and even friends. Here again, each situation is different.


Not all sisters share a very close relationship. Not all uncles or aunts are loved almost on par with a parent. Every loss is unique and each person affected has had a different relationship with the person who has died. I remember when my brother-in-law died, someone said to me, ‘he was only your brother-in-law’.


I know people who have mourned the loss of their beloved pet for years. And why not? In some cases an older woman, or even a younger man may have their pet as their closest relationship. Losing something that is dear to us is painful and grief will follow.


I have known some people who refused to get another dog or another kitten until they have fully grieved the death of  the pet that has died.


People also grieve the loss of their jobs. For someone who worked in an important job their whole life even though they know they have to retire they will be in deep refusal and grief over ‘the loss of their life’ as they knew it.


Death brings about a certain loss. Divorce brings about another kind of loss. Not all divorce is equally shared by the two former partners. There is rarely a situation where both parties in a divorce are at the same place of welcoming the separation and eventual divorce.


There are many variables in a divorce. In some cases, one person may be happy to leave the marriage relationship while one person may still be in love and would very much like to stay in the relationship.


Forced separation is very real…one of the partners wants a divorce for whatever reason and wants out of the relationship, which means the remaining the partner is forced to accept divorce even though that person may not desire that conclusion for himself/herself.


Although I believe there is always hurt and grief of some kind to both people involved in a divorce, a common experience is that one person may suffer and grieve differently to the other person.


Divorce makes the loss in a relationship public and certifies the grief. An ending of a relationship that did not conclude in marriage is another area of loss…not quite so public and not quite so certifiable. In some of these instances, partners sometimes grieve without the benefit of support.


Too often friends do not recognize friendships, live-in partnerships and relationships non- formalized by marriage. This is true for same-sex couples as well as for heterosexual couples. In relationships sometimes, people grieve in silence. Even in situations where the loss of intimacy and devotion is one-sided in a relationship, the person most deeply affected by the loss of what once was, will grieve the loss all by himself/herself.


Rarely do family members and close friends understand the deepest sadness and pain that accompanies some of the loss in our lives.


An area of loss that often receives the silent treatment happens within the gay community. In relationships that are somewhat secretive, loss of any kind is often exaggerated by misunderstanding, lack of support or accusative rhetoric and non-pastoral help.


It does not matter the type of loss or how loss comes into our lives. We can be assured of feelings and emotions that will change us to the point where we not recognize the person we have become, or better still, the new person we have become because of the grief we have  live through.


It is not strange for people suffering loss to feel as though they will never be the same again and that the hurt will never heal.


Grief has so many faces. I often respond strongly when people say to grieving relatives who have just lost their 90 year old mother, ‘she lived a good life’ or ‘you had her with you for so many year’. I doesn’t matter how old the person is and how long they have lived, death is final and it hurts just as much no matter how old the person was.


The death of children, young people and people in the prime of their lives often adds a tragic component of the death to the grieving process. Feelings of guilt, anger, disbelief, blame and unforgiveness usually accompany these losses. There is very little that can be said by way of comfort to people in these circumstances. People usually say the wrong things.


We cannot always blame them because most people feel that they HAVE TO say something. My approach to shock, loss, tragedy and sudden death is not very different to loss of any kind.


It is this: I bring my presence to the situation; sometimes this requires me to be there, to stand with those grieving but to stand in silence with them. There are so many way to be with people who are hurting; talking a lot, in my opinion, is the least helpful thing we can offer.


I was first introduced to Grief Therapy during my time in Seminary at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO. In the 1980s most seminaries were offering courses in grief therapy in Pastoral Care Classes.


The protagonist in grief therapy literature at that time was the late Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I believe I read all of her books and felt that I was prepared to manage grief should it come to my life.


In later years, I was introduced to Grief Recovery by the late Dr. J. Wavell Thompson. Dr. Thompson had trained in the Grief Recovery Method with The Grief Recovery Institute based in the United States. I did the course in Grief Recovery with Dr. Thompson and found that experience helpful. Some years later, Dr. Thompson passed away suddenly and I found myself facing loss and grief once more. Shortly after this, I registered with The Grief Recovery Institute for training as a Grief Recovery Specialist.


The late John James and Russell Friedman founded The Grief Recovery Institute. One of the most important and radical aspects of their teaching is that people can recover from grief and loss. The requirement for recovery is that each person will have to do the work that will help him or her to recover. In other words, it is not an automatic process.


It requires the willingness of each person to apply himself or herself to the process and embrace the vulnerability and uncertainty that often accompany loss.


Here is how the Grief Recovery Method works. The founders John James and Russell Friedman authored the Grief Recovery Handbook. The Handbook supports both the theory and methodology of The Grief Recovery Method.  Each person committing to a Grief Recovery Group will receive a copy of The Grief Recovery Handbook.


There are nine Grief Recovery Group Sessions. Ideally, group numbers do not exceed nine people and one Grief Recovery Specialist. Members of the group sign a covenant of confidentiality. Usually group settings take place in a safe environment where participants work with each other, share and begin to heal. Attendance at all group meetings is required. Sessions are two hours a week and there is homework assignments and journaling for the duration of the course.


I would recommend Grief Recovery Work for you if you feel you are able to participate; if you feel you can commit to nine sessions; if you can afford to pay the registration cost and if you feel you are ready to heal.


The course is not religious. It is not related to a church denomination and is open to people of all faiths or no denomination affiliation. Having said that, I will say the experience is deeply spiritual and allows for soul healing and Spirit guidance. I certainly understand the importance of a person’s relationship with God and will always aim to honour each person’s spiritual path.


I would be happy to talk with you and assist you further in helping you to make the decision to begin your walk on the road to healing and recovery. I know what it feels like to hurt and feel helpless in my grief.


But there is HOPE!

Phone: 242-393-6729 or 242-427-5457