We do not propose to be therapists or counselors at this site, but, having been through our share of funerals and grieving for any number of reasons, we offer the following support and advice.
Grief is an emotion that is purely individual. Feelings of despair or sadness brought on by a sudden death, or by a death after prolonged illness, are the same, but different. For the most part, grief is a reaction to experiencing loss. In our society, the death of a friend or family member is associated with varying degrees of grief. We will discuss the issue of 'stages of grief', and the ability to mourn, and we welcome your comments and experiences. It is often through sharing that we find the most peace in our grief.
Recently a generous author, Tracy Carson, wrote to us and offered to share her book "Grandma is now a Butterfly" with you. Tracy created the book to help children understand and cope with the loss of a loved one. The story is based on the loss of her Mother and how she helped her children understand and cope with such a tremendous loss. The text version of "Grandma is now a Butterfly" is available below. Click here to purchase the book. Your support of Tracy's work is encouraged and we thank her for her generous gift.
Tae was a silly little girl. She loved to run and play. One of her favorite things to do was to go to Grandmas house. Tae loved her Grandma. Tae and Grandma would play for hours. They loved to take walks and cook snacks for Grandpa. Tae would always tell her Grandma, "Grandma, you're the best, I love you!" Grandma would always tickle Tae's nose and say, "you're the best, I love you more!" They would laugh and laugh. They had so much fun together.
One day Tae was playing with her kitten when she heard her Mommy and Daddy crying. Tae ran to her Mommy and asked "Mommy why are you crying?" Mommy told her that she had some very sad news. Tae felt scared. She had never seen her Mommy look so sad.
Tae looked at Mommy and knew something bad had happened. Mommy took Tae's hand and told her that Grandpa had just called and that Grandma had died. Tae was not sure what "died" really meant. She once had a puppy that Daddy said "died" and it never came home again. Did this mean Grandma would never come home? She was very confused and sad. What did all this mean? Tae too began to cry. Where was her Grandma? Tae said, "Mommy, I want my Grandma."
Mommy explained that Grandma is now in Heaven. She has left Earth and is now an angel in Heaven. Tae did not understand, why would Grandma leave? Why didn't she say good-bye? Where is Heaven? Tae was very sad that her Grandma had left. Mommy explained, that when it is time to leave for Heaven you just have to go. Sometimes you do not get a chance to say goodbye.
Mommy told Tae that going to Heaven is like a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. When a caterpillar is ready to move on to a new life it spins into a cocoon and then comes out a beautiful butterfly and flies away. That is what happens when you die and become an angel, you get beautiful wings and fly away with the angels to Heaven. Tae did understand about caterpillars turning into butterflies.
Mommy explained that Grandma has flown to Heaven and is in a very wonderful place. Although we will all miss Grandma very much, she has moved on to a new life and a new adventure with her new wings.
Tae realized that things were going to be different without Grandma. She was going to miss her Grandma very much. Mommy explained that it was all right to cry and to miss Grandma. Mommy explained that Grandma still loves her very much and that she will be sending her love from heaven.
A few months later Tae was playing in the backyard with her kitten. She was thinking about how much she misses her Grandma. Just then a beautiful butterfly tickled Tae's nose. She chased the butterfly and laughed and laughed. Grandma is now a Butterfly.
SHOCK: "I don't believe it!"
DENIAL: "It's not true. He'll come through the door at any moment."
GUILT: "I knew this would happen. I should have done something."
ANGER: "How could she (he) do this to me?"
FEAR: "Will this happen to me? To my children? To my family?"
Mourning is different than grieving. Mourning involves the public display of grief. In other words, the wearing of black, the church services to pray for the lost friend or family member, the seeking out of anyone willing to talk about the loved one. Not all mourning is done publicly, but mourning in and of itself is considered the public face we put on our grief.
Defined by Elsabeth Kubler-Ross in her book, "On Death and Dying," Macmillan Publishing Company, 1969, the stages of grief are as follows:
DENIAL: A refusal to believe or accept what has happened.
ANGER : Blaming others for the loss. Blaming oneself for the loss.
BARGAINING: This can involve bargains with oneself, or with God.
DEPRESSION : Listlessness, tiredness, a feeling of being punished.
ACCEPTANCE: Realizing that life goes on, thereby allowing yourself to heal.
You should be aware of the fact that there are differing viewpoints on the validity of Ms. Kubler-Ross's stages of grief, and we present them here only to help you identify and work through your loss. You will notice that the 5 Stages of Grief are quite similar to the emotions mentioned above. The important thing to remember is that what you are feeling is personal and may or may not be identified by the words written here.