WICS - Widowed Information and Consultation Services http://www.kcwics.org Bereavement Support Groups and Grief Resources Sat, 16 May 2020 19:01:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.30 That Helpless Feeling http://www.kcwics.org/2016/02/that-helpless-feeling/ http://www.kcwics.org/2016/02/that-helpless-feeling/#comments Sat, 20 Feb 2016 05:54:59 +0000 http://www.kcwics.org/?p=555 An earthquake brought home with a bang just how helpless we are when the forces of nature are visited upon us. Hurricanes, blizzards, floods … all forces over which man can rarely exert control. Perhaps control consists of running away from an approaching storm, but actually controlling an outburst of nature …. not much can be done.

While you may never have considered it, grief is one of the natural phenomena over which most people have no control. There seem to be some people who with great strength of will manage to override emotions.

Whether this is to their long-term advantage is questionable. In the beginning, it may portray what the public would prefer to think of as the way to deal with grief, but quite possibly in the long-run prove to be the opposite of healthy grieving.

Some people have absolutely no control over whether or not they will throw themselves full tilt into their grieving … I was one of those. Once the shock wore off, I was entirely consumed by grief… I didn’t recognize myself in any way. I, who had been a relatively sane and collected person, became a frightening, raging, screaming stranger to myself.

Scared to the bone of what I had become, I had visions of being dragged off to a mental institution. Several years after the death of my father, my mother had just such an experience. Apparently the death had opened her to underlying schizophrenia from which she suffered the rest of her life.

For months, my aim in life was to try to hide from everyone the possibility that I was quite mad. When Bill died (in the ‘70s), there were no books … and I think that to this day, books don’t adequately describe the loss of control the grieving experience can cause … it’s very frightening. In my opinion, that’s why it’s so necessary to talk to someone who has lived through grief, they know things that can’t be learned from books.

What put me back together, eventually, was the [WICS] group. We were eight very frightened people, who, looking at each other, realized we were experiencing the same sorts of madness. If that was true, perhaps it was normal … the relief when we realized the truth was enormous and freeing. We were free to be as crazy as we seemed to be, because, if nothing else, we had company … other folks who understood what was happening.

A willingness to abandon oneself to total grieving takes courage. It takes courage as well, to look for help during such a vulnerable time. I think it’s a natural thing to want to hide behind a “good face”, to be as calm as possible for the sake of those who look at us during this time. However, it’s difficult to keep up the ‘front’, sometimes it’s just impossible for most of us.

The other kinds of natural disasters usually allow us to be open about our fears. We’ve all seen pictures of people running from disaster with fear and horror on their faces. We’ve all under-stood how that was possible. It’s too bad that most of the uninitiated public can’t give grieving people the same understanding and permission to be fearful and cry when their lives have been shattered by a death.

Well, did it all get tied together, or have I failed? I never know just how successful these pieces are. Perhaps if it makes enough sense, you will be able to show it to someone who needs to know how natural your grieving is … regardless of their opinion.

Doesn’t it drive you nuts when someone who hasn’t had the same experience believes they know best how you should react? What nerve!

Well, enough of this … take it as permission to feel your feelings and realize that when life is totally changed by a death it’s reasonable to be emotionally distraught for a period of time … a period that lasts much longer than we would believe.

Hang in there, the craziness will taper down and not be so frightening … with luck within the first year. But, remember, we’re all different, so there’s no timetable for anything … not even sanity!


By: Dorothy Hanley

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Preparing for the Holidays http://www.kcwics.org/2015/12/preparing-for-the-holidays/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/12/preparing-for-the-holidays/#comments Wed, 02 Dec 2015 05:54:00 +0000 http://www.kcwics.org/?p=504

“When we are in the midst of grief, the last thing we may want to think about is the holidays. We may have little desire to participate. We may simply refuse to make plans, wishing the holidays would quickly, if not painlessly, pass.”

The holidays are tough when we are grieving a loss. Holidays are centering moments in our lives, full of memories. We remember the Thanksgiving the oven broke down, the Chanukah or Christmas gifts we received. It is very easy for our longing for someone we miss to become intense.

There are other reasons the holidays can be tough. We often see reminders – the perfect gift or a holiday card addressed to the person who died. They are stressful and busy times. This stress is difficult to bear when coping with grief. We might feel so out of step with the season. Our sadness seems magnified against the joy of others. Finally, in the midst of winter, we may feel more isolated and alone, the deepening darkness a reflection of our inner being.

 That is why it is essential to plan. We need not spend a great deal of time thinking of holiday menus or planning the perfect gift or card. I am speaking of something more important – planning how to get through the holidays.

 The danger is drift. It is easy in the stressful times of the holidays to surrender our decision making to well-meaning others, like the sister-in-law who will not take no for an answer. The result is that we find ourselves drifting into activities that are tiring, painful, or that don’t meet our needs.

 The first thing we need to do is to choose. What activities do we really want to do? What activities do we need to do? What doesn’t need to be done this year? We might decide to not send cards or host a dinner.

 As for the activities we choose, we must find the best way to do them, consistent with our own needs. For example, if we decide to give gifts, we might consider how we wish to do this. Do we simply send a check, shop from the Internet or a catalog, or shop with a friend?

 With whom do we wish to spend the holidays? Who can be present with us as we grieve? Who will understand that we may not be our usual selves?

 Sometimes it is a choice not to make a choice. Grief is often a roller-coaster experience, full of ups and downs. Grace knew that. So she decided that she would keep her options open until that very morning. She knew she would spend some time with her in-laws, but would wait until that day to see where she was on that roller coaster before committing to a particular schedule. We need to remember to remain flexible. For Tom, he decided to take his own car so he could leave when he was ready, rather than be obligated to wait for others.

 We need, too, to recognize the individuality of grief. For some of us, the holidays are difficult and stressful. There may be others of us who welcome the diversion and find comfort in the bustle of activity. Still others of us might find ourselves torn between both feelings. It is the range of reactions that makes our grief unique.

 Once we have made our choices, we should communicate those decisions to others. Part of that communication is listening to others. That may add a third “C” to our holiday plans – compromise.

 The holidays are approaching so we need to plan. But we may want to remember this recipe –

 Choose, Communicate and Compromise.


By Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, MDiv, Sr. Consultant to HFA; professor of gerontology at the College of New Rochelle in New York.
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Lights http://www.kcwics.org/2015/12/lights/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/12/lights/#comments Wed, 02 Dec 2015 04:58:47 +0000 http://www.kcwics.org/?p=507 The holidays are a time of many lights, yet the holidays may also be the darkest days for people who are grieving. Although it may seem that everyone else is happy and light-hearted during the holiday season, we know that many people are not only grieving the death of someone they loved, but many other kinds of losses as well, including the loss of hope.

I am reminded of the October fogs here in Seattle area. The sun comes out in the afternoon and things look wonderful until the fog returns at night. We always hope that the next day will repeat the procedure – happy for whatever brief sunlight we can see. It’s somewhat like the respite from grieving we begin to experience when the pain lifts for a few minutes. The grief becomes more bearable when we know that in exchange for hours of hurt, there can be moments of peace and hope.

We hope that, while the holidays may be painful for you, they will also bring the realization that you have the opportunity to exercise choices and make decisions about how you will spend this time. This may be the best gift of all – the opportunity to begin to take charge and direct the course your life will take, if only by one small step at a time.

The candles can be reminders that as time passes, what began as a view of a frighteningly dark future, may finally be seen in the light of your own personal growth toward adjustment to the death of your loved one. Just as the rain passes and a single ray of sunlight at first illuminates only a tiny spot in the dark landscape, light will return to your life, bit by bit.

Take heart and try not to be too afraid of the dark. Look for the candles along the way to give you hope for a brighter new year.


By Dorothy Hanley
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Holiday Hints http://www.kcwics.org/2015/11/holiday-hints/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/11/holiday-hints/#comments Sat, 28 Nov 2015 05:57:30 +0000 http://www.kcwics.org/?p=508 A few ideas for getting through the holidays more easily. It is a difficult time for anyone who has lived through a life change. Perhaps these hints will make the holiday blues a little easier to deal with.

DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF – get as much rest as you can and attempt to keep the stress level low. Buy yourself a present. Take a leisurely bath, light candles, read a good book. Eat at least one good meal a day and be careful with liquor consumption.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVING SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE – you know who they are. Don’t let people push you to do things you don’t want to do or go places that will add to your discomfort.

ALLOW TEARS – holiday times are emotional times and particularly difficult if this is your first (or other years) big holiday without your loved one. Express your feelings without worrying that you will make others uncomfortable.

REMEMBER YOUR LOVED ONE – do something special like a memorial gift to a charity, take a wreath or flowers to the cemetery. If you put up a tree, buy a tree ornament as a memorial or light a candle.

DON’T GO OVERBOARD – Expensive gifts won’t make up to the children the loss of a parent. Sometimes we feel we must do something to fill the void in their lives, but bankrupting the family won’t help.

IT WILL BE DIFFICULT, BUT YOU WILL GET THROUGH – Anxiety and anticipation are often much worse than the holiday itself. You’ve had many bad days since the death of your loved one, you know you can get through a few more. Take heart, next year will/could be easier.


From Dorothy Hanley’s book: Seasons of Grief
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Holiday Tips http://www.kcwics.org/2015/11/holiday-tips/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/11/holiday-tips/#comments Sat, 21 Nov 2015 05:59:56 +0000 http://www.kcwics.org/?p=506 “Be kind and patient with yourself and others – compromise.”

“Be honest in what you expect to be able to do.”

“As you become aware of your needs, tell family members and friends.”

“Consider changing traditional routines.”

“Hold on to your pocketbook and charge cards. You can’t ‘spend’ grief away, though you might be tempted to try.”

“Heartaches will be unpacked along with loving memories – allow yourself the gift of healing tears.”

“Light a special candle in celebration of a life and a love shared.”

“Anticipation is often far worse than reality. Be realistic.”


Bereavement Publishing, Inc., PO Box 674, Carmel, IN 46032  (317)846-9429
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POSTPONED – Luncheon, Bunco, and Auction http://www.kcwics.org/2015/09/postponed-luncheon-bunco-and-auction/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/09/postponed-luncheon-bunco-and-auction/#comments Sat, 19 Sep 2015 16:59:04 +0000 http://www.kcwics.org/?p=449
This event has been rescheduled for Feb, 27th, 2016. More info here!

Due to low attendance and a number of other previous scheduled activities, the board has decided to postpone our Luncheon, Bunco, and Auction scheduled for Saturday, September 26th, 2015.  We will plan the same activities (event) in February or March.
Our next scheduled activity will be the bus trip to Leavenworth for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Sunday, December 6th.  More information will be in fliers and on the web site which will be available in the next two weeks.

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New Year’s Wish http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/new-years-wish/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/new-years-wish/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 22:39:09 +0000 http://steventhorpe.com/wics/?p=210 By: Sascha Wagner



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Uneasy Word http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/uneasy-word/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/uneasy-word/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 22:28:05 +0000 http://steventhorpe.com/wics/?p=206 by Sascha Wagner

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Memorial Day http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/memorial-day/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/memorial-day/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 22:06:37 +0000 http://steventhorpe.com/wics/?p=199 By: Sascha Wagner

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Wounds do not Heal Without Time and Attention http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/wounds-do-not-heal-without-time-and-attention/ http://www.kcwics.org/2015/03/wounds-do-not-heal-without-time-and-attention/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 00:21:55 +0000 http://steventhorpe.com/wics/?p=190

– From Judy Tatelbaum’s Courage to Grieve


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