Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing

Grieving Men Returning to Work

Ron Kelly

No matter what personal devastation may come in life, the world continues to turn. For so many of us that means returning to work after the loss of a loved one. As men, we also have an inherent trait for control of our environment, and the loss of a loved one was something we could not control.

The workplace, however, can represent a place where we might still establish our influence on responsibilities.

“When you come to work, leave your home life at the door.” We hear that all the time. Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth. Even before your loss, you went to work each day carrying all the motivations and demotivations taking place in your life. Now, however, you have the burden of painful emotions. Some of these you’ve never felt before and others you’ve never experienced at such intense levels.

The most important thing you must always do is be easy on yourself. You have a lot going on in your mind and in your heart. Expect to be more distracted and less productive for some time to come. If you’re feeling fatigued, overwhelmed, or unfocused, let your boss or teammates know that you need a little time before completing the task at hand. Don’t resume anything until you’re sure you can do it safely and with total competency in your own abilities.

As for well-wishers, be understanding with those at work. Many will be unsure how to interact on your return and may act awkward or uncomfortable. Those co-workers absolutely want to be supportive, yet are uncertain how to approach you. And, if they do, unsure of what to say. If they do say the wrong thing, just remember the words are not spoken in malice.

Some co-workers may say nothing at all. On top of general concerns about feeling awkward, they’re not comfortable with mortality in general. When they consider your loss, it mentally puts them right in your shoes and brings thoughts of what it would be like to lose someone of their own. If a co-worker had lost a loved one in the past, he or she might have some unresolved grief issues, and facing your loss may bring back incredible pains they’re not willing or prepared to deal with.

As you move forward through your grief, know that many at work will quickly get over your loss. In just a short period, it will seem that your loss is all but forgotten. It’s not your co-worker’s fault. They don’t go home with you at the end of the day. On another hand, it may well come from you putting on an act that you are doing well, right? You’re wearing a Grief Mask that disguises your pain.

It is well worth repeating that when returning to work after your loss of a loved one, you must be easy on yourself. Take your time and feel your pains no matter where they hit. Try to remember that, as men, we have many inherent instincts and traits residing within our very DNA that may unconsciously drive us to take certain actions. Sometimes we’re ready. Sometimes we’re not.

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Look for Ron’s column every other Wednesday here on WSN-MO. R. Glenn Kelly can be reached at rglennkelly@rglennkelly.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing

Own your own grief

Ron Kelly

I’ve known grief for some time now. The unexpected and certainly unwanted passing of far too many of my loved ones has indeed left its ugly mark. But none of my traumatic losses were the same. Nor were they the same as yours, were they? Yet, it can be human nature to fall prey to the herd mentality when trying to figure out all this nasty grief stuff.

It’s easy to listen to experts and go along with what we’ve heard works well for others. But never let anyone else own your grief. It’s yours and yours alone. Never allow anyone else to say you’re doing it wrong, either, unless you’re physically or emotionally harming yourself or others. Grief healing is a lot like religion. If a particular faith-based belief resonates, makes you feel good, and moves you forward, by all means, go with it. But don’t just sit there and listen while someone else preaches ideals you not only don’t understand but don’t feel right about, either.

Even today, we still hear the Five Stages of Grief model mistakenly thrown around for those of us who lost a loved one. As counseled after the loss, the bereaved are told they’ll surely travel through the emotional stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Well, the esteemed Dr. Kübler-Ross developed and published this coveted Five Stages study based on her observations of terminally ill patients, not the survivors. We are a whole different ball game, aren’t we?

Almost immediately after the publication of the Five Stages study, however, the vast majority of mental health

professionals and clergy counselors picked up the model and neatly laid it out for loss survivors like it was gospel. And they still do in far too many cases. But we know that the loss of a loved one brings no linear timelines, don’t we? There’s no chronological order where we move systematically through denial to final acceptance, is there? In fact, in our loss of grief, acceptance should be the first stage, not the last. Could it be harmful to a loss survivor to buy into the Five Stages model? Perhaps. It could make a recent griever feel they aren’t progressing if they haven’t yet hit a certain stage, and actually impede their overall healthful healing processes.

Yes, there are positives to the herd mentality for our survival. If you’re standing in a crowd and suddenly everyone else begins to run, well, you might want to run too. At least at first…but that’s up to you. You might be an internal griever, while others say you should express your feelings to the world. You might be emotionally debilitated for some time after your loss, while another newly bereaved soul must find something to occupy all their time and thought. Both are normal and healthy as long, again, as you are not harming yourself or others.

It’s okay to listen to the experts. Go with the herd when it moves you, but only when it is your choice, and it feels right. But do not let anyone else say you’re doing it wrong. Don’t let them own your grief. You do!

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Look for Ron’s column every other Wednesday here on WSN-MO. R. Glenn Kelly can be reached at rglennkelly@rglennkelly.com

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Grieving Me

A common phrase often heard after the loss of a loved one is, “I’m sorry for your loss.” These words from well-wishers clearly indicate the condolence is intended for the griever who now lives without a dear loved one. Recognizing that the survivor has lost someone precious is part of traditional mourning rites. Western culture, however, has moved away from age-old customs that not only honor the departed but pay respect to the bereaved, as well. We should all remember both halves of mourning.

The word loss concludes the phrase, “I’m sorry for your loss.” In the context considered here, the loss is best defined as the state of being deprived of, or, of being without something you once had. When something, or in this case, someone, has been taken away without your consent or control, it can bring some ugly and painful feelings of anger, fear, emptiness, loneliness, and so much more.

At some early point following our loss, many of us feel shameful for even daring to think of our personal hurt, don’t we? How can we be thinking of ourselves? All thought should go to the dearly departed because, after all, they are the ones who lost everything, right?

Wrong! You must move forward to a life of peace and purpose where the lost loved one becomes a part of the very core of who you will become. To do so, all of your emotions must be given credence, including the hurt you have for yourself. You must look inward and acknowledge that it is normal, acceptable, and healthy to feel, and express if you so desire, the pains you have for yourself, as well as for that dear loved one you miss so much.

For my fellow men who can relate to this, just make sure you aren’t doing so because of an unhealthy ego. You know what I mean…you’re more concerned about how others think of you than how you think of yourself??? I tell you what…I’ll just leave that whole ego thought right here for you to pick up and run with. Just grieve yourself. It’s okay to do it!

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Look for Ron’s column every other Wednesday here on WSN-MO. R. Glenn Kelly can be reached at rglennkelly@rglennkelly.com