March 24, 2015

10 tips for surviving grief - Part A

In a sad, humble way, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert in grief. And believe me, it was the last thing I thought I could ever manage.

In fact, when I was 14, a girlfriend's mother died suddenly of a heart attack. I had no idea what to say to my friend, so basically I ignored her and then shamefully lost contact. When I left the obligatory military service in Israel, as an officer, I was asked if I would agree to become a 'notification officer.' This is someone who goes to the homes of fallen soldiers - to tell the parents... Did I agree? Hell, no.

However, just as Oedipus could not evade his fate, nor could I, and on a sunny day in June 1996, I found out that my son had an advanced case of Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma of the lung. For those lucky ones who have no idea what that means - I'll tell you - it's an advanced type of cancer - extremely hard to stop, and very nasty indeed. My little boy was 2 years old at the time.

No one was to blame - not the environment, genes, not even my college days of frantic vodka drinking. Nope, it was just extremely bad luck. Yarden managed to get through 2 years and 3 months of life until the cancer took him from us. The last six months were when we knew - rationally - that he wouldn't survive, but we continued to hope and dream. The last two weeks we knew we had no choice but to accept the inevitable.

The grief process began the day of his diagnosis and so - with 19 years of experience under my belt: Here goes my top 10 list of Surviving Grief:

1. Let go of guilt.
2. Join a support group.
3. Weep loudly when and if possible.
4. Have a proper goodbye.
5. Hold onto the good memories.
6. Keep a few memorabilia.
7. Talk to people about how you feel.
8. Let yourself go through the process without judgment or time limitations.
9. Find meaningful ways to remember the person you have lost, especially on important anniversaries.
10. Dance, sing, paint, and live joyously. Because you can!

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