By Randy Hill
Those who travel the lonely path of grief benefit immensely from the solace provided by others who understand and care. I have traveled this road myself, as have many others. While each person experiences loss and grief differently, I have a deep interest, compassion, and empathy for each who must take this journey. My own healing and understanding of the grieving process has better equipped me to be an instructor and guide for others who are currently traveling along this path.
Following the death of a loved one, most bereaved individuals are deeply troubled by their loss and understandably react strongly. Those in grief struggle moment by moment with discomfort and anxiety as they experience numerous manifestations of intense mourning. Tears, denial, rage, protest, memory lapses and the inability to complete some of the easiest tasks, often carries with it cause for embarrassment. As a skilled educator, I realize the importance of allowing and encouraging a person to grieve. However one’s inner pain is communicated – whether through explosive outbursts, silence, or pleading with God – I am at ease when those in grief express their anguish at these crucial moments in their lives. While I am unable to shoulder someone else’s pain or become their personal savior, I am available to furnish warm and unconditional empathy, compassion, care and understanding.
During the past 20 years, I have assisted many individuals and families in this process. I have learned that trust and acceptance are two of the most important gifts that I have to offer to one who is experiencing grief. This means complete and non-judgmental recognition of the person’s feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Although I am available to assist those in need, the real work toward healing must be accomplished by the bereaved. If those in grief are willing to open their hearts, if they are willing to relinquish their pain, and if they are willing to accept the risk of voicing their irrational thoughts – then the healing process can begin.
As a grief educator, I am able to provide helpful, useful information about the bereavement process – teaching coping techniques, acknowledging signposts of healing, and reinforcing the means of positive transitions. Most importantly, I actively listen as the bereaved attempts to sort through his/her confusion. When appropriate, I furnish encouragement, reassurance and validation of one’s feelings, thoughts and spirits.
I am greatly honored and truly blessed to receive an abundance of genuine validation and “positive feedback” in the form of letters, cards, and telephone calls from people I have assisted, as well as from funeral directors and friends and families of the bereaved. I am humbled by the supportive comments that have been made by those whom I have helped through the management of some of their most vulnerable moments in life.
I feel so very privileged to have the opportunity to share in people’s most private moments. I personally attain continued healing and receive new meaning and purpose for my own losses as I make myself available in providing support to others. The mutuality of this experience provides one with the boundaries and perspectives needed to maintain a healthy balance as well as dignity and respect throughout this therapeutic association.