Obituaries

William Cairns
B: 1933-06-12
D: 2017-06-21
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Cairns, William
Warren Wissman
B: 1936-08-29
D: 2017-06-19
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Wissman, Warren
Ross Hirst
B: 1952-02-19
D: 2017-06-17
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Hirst, Ross
Richard Wardeiner
B: 1930-01-29
D: 2017-06-17
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Wardeiner, Richard
Anne Gase
B: 1912-07-20
D: 2017-06-16
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Gase, Anne
Joan King
B: 1929-02-28
D: 2017-06-16
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King, Joan
Roger Loos
B: 1928-10-14
D: 2017-06-15
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Loos, Roger
Edward Boyd
B: 1940-04-26
D: 2017-06-15
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Boyd, Edward
Richard Henson
B: 1930-07-03
D: 2017-06-14
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Henson, Richard
Diane Remner
B: 1941-07-17
D: 2017-06-10
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Remner, Diane
Joanne Lowe
B: 1929-06-20
D: 2017-06-10
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Lowe, Joanne
Eleanor Podboy
B: 1930-09-16
D: 2017-06-08
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Podboy, Eleanor
John Fiorilli
B: 1932-07-19
D: 2017-06-07
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Fiorilli, John
Richard George
B: 1928-07-12
D: 2017-06-06
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George, Richard
Albert Then
D: 2017-06-04
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Then, Albert
Lisa Coyne
B: 1966-10-18
D: 2017-06-03
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Coyne, Lisa
Frank Terdan
B: 1925-12-27
D: 2017-06-03
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Terdan, Frank
Betty Koelliker
B: 1925-08-12
D: 2017-05-31
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Koelliker, Betty
Gloria Rogers
B: 1945-06-29
D: 2017-05-30
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Rogers, Gloria
Richard Rhoa
B: 1950-06-18
D: 2017-05-28
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Rhoa, Richard
Bruno Novak
B: 1933-09-17
D: 2017-05-28
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Novak, Bruno

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Ending Denial and Finding Acceptance

Another article within this library, Dealing with Death, focuses on our unwillingness to look at death – specifically our own death. It advocates the day-to-day practice of mindfulness and taking concrete preparative steps for death as ways to confront and ultimately accept the inevitability of the end of our life. We need to focus on thinking about ourselves: our life and our death.

In this article, we're going to look more closely at the destructive force of denial and the constructive power within the act of acceptance as they relate to grieving the loss of someone else. You may remember the four tasks of mourning proposed by James Worden in the article, Grieving with Purpose:

  1. To accept the reality of the loss
  2. To process the pain of grief
  3. To adjust to a world without the deceased
  4. To find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life

You can see how acceptance is the very first task in your bereavement. In fact, Worden writes that we must "come full face with the reality that the person is dead, that the person is gone and will not return."

This is where a funeral can be very important. Traditionally, the casketed body of the deceased is at the front of the room and guests are invited to step up to personally say their goodbyes. Part of stepping up means seeing with our own eyes that death has actually occurred and that actualizing is an essential part of coming to accept the death. Yet, the tradition of viewing has eroded over time with many families today choosing cremation and opting to hold a memorial service after the cremation has taken place. The focal point of the ceremony becomes the cremation urn, holding the cremated remains or ashes out-of-sight and making the reality of the death less evident and the road to acceptance less clearly marked.

Acceptance May Seem Out-of-Reach

For many, acceptance means agreeing to reality. Most of us, when we lose someone dear to us, simply don't want to agree to it; we actually have an aversion to agreeing and accepting. So, let's use a different word. Let's try the word adjustment. Or integration. Both words focus on the purposeful release of disbelief. Someone who has integrated the death of a loved one into their life has cleared the path to creating a new life; a pro-active life where a loved one's memory is held dear, perhaps as a motivating force for change.

It does take time. In Coping with the Loss of a Loved One, the American Cancer Society cautions readers that "acceptance does not happen overnight. It’s common for it to take a year or longer to resolve the emotional and life changes that come with the death of a loved one. The pain may become less intense, but it’s normal to feel emotionally involved with the deceased for many years after their death. In time, the person should be able to reclaim the emotional energy that was invested in the relationship with the deceased, and use it in other relationships."

Whether you call it acceptance, adjustment, or integration, this essential part of mourning is what allows us to live fully again. It allows us to step out of the darkness of mere existence and back into the sunshine where life is sweet again. Of course, it's a very different life than the one you had before your loved one died.

As author J'son M. Lee shared, the rewards are profound: “Existing is going through the motions of life with no zeal and feeling you have no control; living means embracing all that this large world has to offer and not being afraid to take chances. The beauty of living is knowing you can always start over and there's always a chance for something better.”

Sources:

Worden, James, Grief Counseling & Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner, 4th Edition, 2009.


Quotation:
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/living+well

365 Days of Healing

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It's hard to know what to say when someone experiences loss. Our free weekly newsletter provides insights, quotes and messages on how to help during the first year.