How did you cope the first year of grief?

I recently sent out an email letting you know that you can help others who will be grieving a loss of their loved one by sharing your tips for surviving the first year of grief in a new book called “Grief’s First Year.”
The first year of grief seems to be the toughest to get through according to all of you who I hear from on the Heartache To Healing site. We can help those new to grief by sharing what we learned to survive the first year.

Submit your short story of tips that you think will benefit someone else who might experience a similar loss to yours.

When you submit your story, include your name, name of the deceased you might be referring to in your story and your relationship to that person. Be sure to include your contact information so I can get in touch with you. Please send your tips to me by January 30th.
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EMAIL ME:  joanne@heartachetohealing.com

If you are unsure of what to write, let me share a recent submission;

My name is Anne, and my husband, JB, died suddenly of a stroke at the age of 43 in August 2003.  We have 4 children, who at the time, ranged in age from 3 to 10.  I had always thought that if something ever happened to JB, I too, would die.  But somehow, every morning I woke up and found myself still breathing.  And with 4 kids who really needed me I was able to get up, make their breakfast, and get them off to school.  I was going through the motions, but that’s o.k. That’s how it starts.

It definitely wasn’t easy.  But I discovered a lot of things.  One, let people help you – now’s not the time to do it all yourself or be too prideful to accept help.  Friends and family can’t bring your loved one back, but they can make your life a little easier.  LET THEM!  It helps them as much as it helps you.  Even if it’s something you can do yourself, accept their offer graciously.  I had meals brought to me every day for 3 months.  Could I have done it on my own?  Yes.  Did it help knowing I didn’t have to figure out dinner every day?  You bet.

Keep your life as routine as you possibly can.  I was lucky enough to have some life insurance, so we were able to keep the house and I was able to continue staying home with the kids.  They only missed a couple of days of school, and then they started back in their routine.  It wasn’t long before we were signing up for sports and other activities.  It helped all of us to get back to our life.

Get some counseling for you and the children.  Our city has a wonderful (and free) grief support group geared toward the children.  It helped them see they weren’t alone, and to begin expressing their feelings about their loss.  It was also incredibly helpful for me to have time with others who were going through the same thing as me.

Establish traditions to remember your loved one.  On JB’s birthday, the kids and I write a message to him on balloons and them release them to heaven.  We go to his favorite restaurant on the anniversary of his death and raise a toast to his life.  It seems to help all of us on these otherwise tough days.

Do what you can to take care of yourself.  Get plenty of rest, go for a walk, take up your friend’s offer to go out to lunch, get your hair done.  For me, this was never the life I had imagined for myself or my kids, but I’ve tried to make our lives as normal as possible.  Eventually, you’ll establish a new “normal”.  It’s not the same, but it’s good.

Always with love, inspiration & hope

JoAnne Funch

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