Friday, 17 November 2017

Grief: Understanding The Process #grief #loss #pain

This is a topic very close to my heart. I started losing loved ones when I was nine years old (My Mother). I wasn't offered any help or counselling. 10 years later I lost my father too. Again, no support.

Since then I have lost my grandparents (one wasn't actually a loss), and in recent years my only full sibling

Two months ago I lost my wife. We were "estranged" for want of a better word but that didn't stop us being the very best of friends.

Grief is cruel. I hope this article might help others.


Grief will make a new person out of you, if it doesn't kill you in the making.  ~ Stephanie Ericsson

Few of us are prepared to face the excruciating pain associated with the death of a loved one. We think we cannot bear it, that to feel such sorrow is abnormal, as if we're going mad. Yet loss is a natural part of life's cycle of growth, decay and rebirth. We know that when someone dearly loved is lost, certain feelings and reactions will be experienced by most people. Still, there is no rule book that works for everyone, because how we experience grief ~ and for how long ~ is uniquely personal and distinct.Finding your way through grief successfully requires some knowledge and understanding of the grief process, and a willingness to do the work of mourning.

Grief is a normal yet highly personal response to loss. Neither an illness nor a pathological condition, it is a natural process that, depending on how it is managed and understood, can lead to healing and personal growth.

Not all losses are related to death, and not all grief reactions stem from the death of a loved one. Grief can be felt in anticipation of a loss, as you mourn all the secondary losses experienced in the course of an illness. Life transitions ~ even joyful ones ~ entail loss and can engender grief. Significant, life-changing events can shatter our assumption that we are safe in this world. Still other losses are ambiguous ones, in that the actual loss may not be evident or clear (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, incarceration, soldiers missing in action). Losses can be tangible (readily apparent and obvious), or intangible and more symbolic in nature. 

Grief is extremely powerful. It can catch you totally unprepared, knock you off balance and shake you to the core. It can be painful beyond words — physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually — and it can change your life completely. Grief serves to remind you how fragile life is and how vulnerable you are to loss. It can make your present life seem meaningless, and take away your hope for the future.

Understanding the process and knowing what to expect can help you cope. Your pattern of progressing through your grief will be uneven, unpredictable and unique, with no specific time frame. But the more you learn about grief, the better you can cope with it. In the beginning it will seem as if your grief is running you, but in the end, you can learn to run your grief. When you understand what is happening to you and have some idea of what to expect, you will feel more in control of your grief and will be in a better position to take care of yourself, to find your own way through this loss and to begin rebuilding your life.

The worst kind of grief is the grief you’re experiencing now. Don’t compare your grief with anyone else’s, and know that, at this moment, your loss is the worst thing that could happen to anyone. Acknowledge that your loss is worthy of grief, and accept that you must endure the very real feelings of sorrow.

Grief work is very hard and takes enormous energy. Much as you may want to do so, there is no way to avoid this grief of yours. You cannot wait it out; you won’t get over it quickly, and nobody can do it for you. It’s called grief work because finding your way through grief is hard work, and if you put it off, like a messy chore it will sit there waiting to be done. And the longer it waits, the harder it becomes.

Effective mourning is not done alone. Unfortunately, friends and family members may be finished with your grief long before you are finished with your need to talk about it, and unexpressed feelings can become distorted. It is important that you find an understanding, nonjudgmental listener with whom you can openly acknowledge your feelings and experiences, express and work through your pain, and come to terms with your loss. If friends and family aren’t as available as you need them to be, or if your need exceeds their capacity to help, consider attending a support group or seeking help from a bereavement counselor.

How grief is expressed varies among individuals. Everyone grieves differently, according to their age, gender, personality, culture, value system, past experience with loss, and available support. Grieving differs among members of the same family, as each person’s relationship with and attachment to the deceased family member varies. How you will react to this death depends on how you’ve responded to other crises in your life; on what was lost when this death happened (not only the life of the person who died, but certain aspects of your own life as well: your way of life; who you were in your relationship with that person and who you planned to be; your hopes and dreams for the future); on who died (spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, relative, friend or other; how you lived together and what that person meant to you); on the person’s role in your family; on when the death occurred (at what point in the life cycle: yours as well as that of the person who died); and on how (the circumstances surrounding the death, and how the death occurred).

Certain manifestations of grief are typical, common and normal. Although grief is as individual as you are, some feelings and reactions are universal. Their intensity will vary, and they’ll happen in no particular order. You may experience all, some or none of them; they may happen only once or many times, sometimes several years after your loved one’s death. Respect your own feelings and reactions. Take time to look, listen, experience and understand them. They are nature’s way of getting your attention.

Grief is a lifelong process. While the agonizing pain of loss diminishes in intensity over time, it’s never gone completely. It is absolutely normal to feel the aftershock of loss for the rest of your life. Grieving is not a reaction to a single event, like an illness that can be cured and from which you will recover. It’s more like a deep wound that eventually heals and closes, but whose terrible scar remains and still can hurt at times. Sometimes the loss itself is ongoing, since its source is irreversible and continues to be present throughout your life, with no forseeable end. (Examples include intellectual and developmental disabilities; chronic, degenerative conditions; lifelong mental health issues; infertility and involuntary childlessness; loss of vocation, calling or faith; and irreversible loss of functionality.)

Death may have ended your loved one’s life, but it did not end your relationship. The bond you have will continue and endure throughout your lifetime, depending on how you take your memories and your past with you into the future. Many grievers report maintaining an active connection with their deceased loved ones by talking to them, dreaming about them, sensing their presence or feeling watched over and protected by them. It is normal and healthy to foster these continuing bonds, as you decide how your loved one will be remembered, memorialized and included in your family and community life.

Time does not heal grief. Time is neutral. It is not the passage of time alone that heals. It is what you do with time that matters. Now that this death has happened to you, you must decide what you can do with your grief. Grieving is an active process, not a passive one, and recovery is a choice. Coping with grief involves many courses of action, and as you find your way through this journey, you will learn how to use this grieving time to help you heal yourself.

There is no right or wrong way to do the work of grieving. There is only your way, and you must discover it for yourself. There is no magic formula, no short cut, and no easy way out. Grief is like a long, winding tunnel whose entrance is closed behind you, and the only way out is through.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Q & A with @DavidLeanLeano #PurpleFriday #CSASurvivors #ChildAbuse

David Lean is a proud ambassador for Voicing CSA and works tirelessly to bring awareness on the subject of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.  As a victim himself, Voicing CSA (on twitter as @Voicing_csa helped David to find his own voice.

I got to know David through Twitter and his work spreading knowledge and trying to get the subjects of CSA and CSE trending in order to raise a more far reaching awareness of these often taboo subjects. He is a truly inspirational man.

Please help us spread the word and let's turn Twitter Purple on September 15th!

1 - What is #PurpleFriday?

#purplefriday is a very simple campaign I have created to raise huge awareness of both CSA & CSE by bringing everyone together on the same day. This is not about Charities or Survivor Groups. It is not even about Survivors, its about everyone young or old, men and women coming together and raising the unspoken subject in all walks of life for just one day. On Friday September 15th I want as many people as possible Worldwide to join us and wear purple items all day as they go about there life. As much or as little as they feel comfortable with. Hopefully this may get people in all walks of life asking about there purple items they are wearing and why!  I would like everyone to post on all social media sites, photos of them wearing the purple items or just anything purple and turn social media purple for the day !! 

Using #purplefriday we will also attempt to trend between 8pm-10pm that evening. Its free, easy to join in and will raise massive awareness if we all join in !  These issues are happening massively on a Worldwide scale !! With one voice we can raise awareness together !

2 - What are your thoughts as to current UK attitudes towards child abuse in the media?

The UK media has improved over the last year and shows much more attention to Both CSA (Childhood Sexual Abuse) and CSE (Childhood Sexual Exploitation) for which Survivors are grateful but it is still nowhere near enough !  Much more can be done and it needs to hit all markets not just the news!  Programmes aimed at younger children also need to be looked at.

3 - Do you think that the "authorities" are doing enough to raise awareness?

Authorities are not doing enough. They are often much of the problem. Some appear to be doing a good job others are not !  Consistency in all areas when dealing with both CSA & CSE is so important. Best practice needs to be used across the Country. Once again we can always do much more and not close our eyes !

4 - With regards abuse in sports, do you think the various sports bodies are doing enough to expose and prevent abuse?

Abuse in Sport is being looked at by many National Governing Bodies at this time. We will see how things pan out in football which is leading on the inquest at the moment. Again while coaches in many sports operate without much if any supervision and without National guidance and Support in many cases Child Abuse will continue to go on in Sport as in all walks of life. It has shown its ugly head in so many different sports and is happening today so all NGBs need to look at how this can be improved. Mandatory reporting is being looked at by many at this time.

5 - Are social media "giants" like Twitter and Facebook doing enough to fight child abuse?

 I believe Social media certain help and can allow us to raise awareness through our tweets/posts etc. We are allowed to put detail into our posts again this helps. Local and National support is also easy to access contact details etc through social media for Survivors and many strong friendships grow through social media.

6 - What have your experiences with social media been like? I understand you have been blocked from tweeting etc.

 I am unsure of exact details on how twitter works but we strongly believe that on a couple of campaigns we have driven to trend #CSASurvivors on twitter that we have been stopped from trending ? I have also had my account stopped 3 times during these periods for over 90 minutes ? I only hope this is not being driven by someone at twitter ?

7 - Do you think that the media coverage of high profile chld abuse cases helps or hinders those who have suffered from familial abuse?

 High profile cases and media coverage is so needed!  I understand its a difficult watch for many and some Survivors find it difficult also but it has to be done! We must show cases on very occasion to drive this out of the dark ages and into the light !  CSA & CSE must become a subject that is spoken about and we must no longer hide this ! Children of the future will be ruined if this continues to happen!  It has already been proven there is a huge percentage of people in prison who have suffered some sort of abuse as a child !  The links are there we need to open our eyes and stop this!

8 - What changes would you like to see in how child abuse victims are treated?

So many changes need to happen in the justice system !   Investigations need to be speeded up in all aspects of CSA & CSE !  Once you disclose to the police,cases can take years to actually get to court !  It can take 12 months just to get a Crown Court date!  The best practise and consistency across the way Survivors are dealt with NEEDS to come in ASAP ! So many people have had bad experiences in the way they have been treated by both police and CPS and also within the Courts! 

I have also heard stories of people who have been treated well, believed from day one and treated with respect and compassion this needs to be the case every time. 

Sentencing laws need to change and be used. Its no good allowing Sentencing laws to be increased if judges don't use the maximums allowed to them !  The effects of CSA & CSE are massive and yet in many cases sentences such as 1 or 2 years are handed down!

In many cases No conviction is even handed down?  We need to encourage ALL survivors forward and you already have to go through reliving the events ! Interview after interview , then await CPS decision then wait another year for Court dates if you even get as far as cour !  For in many cases No conviction or a very small sentence given for Abuse towards a child ! How can this be right? 

We also need to stop allowing these monsters the right to change there verdict on the day for a reduced sentence!  

9 - Do you feel there is enough professional, specialised help available for male survivors?

 I was lucky and received counselling within a month of me disclosing to police through some funding available at that time. This area is a must for everyone who needs it after disclosure and must be compulsory all over the Country !  Not enough services or support are available at this time. Many Survivor groups offer support to the best of there ability but much more needs to be done as so many are not supported!

10 - Are male victims of sexual abuse under more pressure to remain silent than female victims?

I believe men find it much more difficult to disclose than women and yes I believe they are under more pressure to remain silent. It is a hugely difficult for everyone but I believe it is often around 20 years longer for men to disclose than women. Something that I and many other men are working hard to change.


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