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THE DIRECTOR'S CORNER
FACTS AND QUESTIONS
“I feel like I am going crazy. Is this normal?”
Grief affects us on every level: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. Losing someone you love strips down your defenses and leaves you raw and vulnerable. This is not only normal; it is evidence of how we have loved. It is normal to feel numb, to be affected by unexpected triggers and become emotional at inconvenient times, and to feel guilty, angry, or alone. Everyone grieves differently which can make the journey of grief feel more isolating. Just as each person’s relationship with the deceased was different, so too will be their grief. It is important to give and receive validation and permission to grieve at one’s own pace, and to share your thoughts and feelings with key people in your life.
"How long will this last?"
This is one of the most common questions and struggles grieving people have. Each person’s journey with grief is different, and there are many factors that influence how intense the journey can be. These include: the relationship to the person who died, the manner of their death, the personality and coping skills of the bereaved, as well as other losses you may have experienced in your life. Most people describe the first year or two as a blur, with intense emotions and a feeling of going through the motions. It is not uncommon to experience intense emotions in the second or third year following the death of a loved one especially around holidays and milestones. This intensity usually begins to subside as acceptance of the loss and construction of a different connection to the deceased begin. Participating in a support group with other grieving individuals can be very powerful by providing validation, normalcy and hope.
"Do men and women grieve differently?"
Many people think so, in accordance with gender stereotypes in our society. The reality though is that grieving is more directly related to the relationship with the deceased, the manner of the death, and the bereaved individual’s coping style. Stereotypes can be harmful in that they can cause people to feel guilty or ashamed of their own unique grieving style. It is important to grieve in the ways that are healthy and healing for you, regardless of gender.
"How do I help my grieving children?"
What many people don’t realize is that kids, especially teenagers, will often hide their feelings in an effort to take care of their grieving parent(s). Making attempts to talk about how things are going is helpful. Keep in mind that they may not want or need to talk about it at times, and that is ok. Adolescents are emotionally mercurial by design, and therefore it is normal to see a wide range of many emotions including anxiety, anger, sadness and guilt. Young children especially can become anxious and need a lot of reassurance. It is best to keep the normal routine in place as much as possible, with the flexibility to make changes as necessary. Kids of all ages do much better with factual, truthful information that is age-appropriate. The situation creates plenty of anxiety on its own; kids sense when they are not being given all the facts and this feeds their worries. If you are unsure about how to discuss the loss with your child, or if you have concerns about how your child is coping, seek advice from a professional in the community or in your child’s school. Participating in a support group with other young people their age living with loss often provides a safe space to share their feelings and worries, and validate their experience. If your child expresses thoughts of hopelessness, or of self-harm or harming someone else, seek help immediately by calling 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or Response at 631-751-7500.
"How can The Neighborhood House help?"
The Neighborhood House provides support groups to bereaved children, adolescents, families and adults. Our groups meet weekly for 8-week cycles throughout the year. Our program emphasizes building a community, and to do this we begin each night as one group by eating dinner together. Then the participants break off into groups with their peers, and once finished, we come back together for a shared art activity. We also provide referrals to grief specialists in the area, and workshops on topics such as managing social media with kids, drug and alcohol prevention and awareness, and suicide prevention programs.
"How much does it cost to participate?"
There is no fee for participating in any of our programs. We are able to provide our services thanks to the generosity of our community friends and sponsors, as well as through funding from grants. Donations are welcome, and can be made online or by mail.
"How do I sign up?"
You can register for an upcoming support group by calling or emailing us to arrange an interview. Our program will be described in depth, and together we can make a decision if our program will meet your needs. Registration for workshops can also be done online or by phone.