Grief Supporters, Grievers, My Story

New Year, New Blog

I have been away for a while. My last post from three years ago probably gives you a clue as to why. My mother died on March 5, 2015.

When my mother died in 2015, I was an underemployed, adjunct professor living with my parents in Richmond, VA commuting to Washington DC. Now, in 2018, I am a newlywed, living in Vermont, embarking on a writing career. In the past three years, life changed dramatically: my career imploded, I moved twice, things with my father were complex, friendships strengthened or dissolved, and family became closer or more distant.

While I had anticipated the emotional and psychological challenges that come with the death of a loved one, I was unprepared for the difficulties I encountered with grief supporters. I found myself Enemy #1 for those who didn’t feel I was grieving the way they wanted me to, or loved by a shrinking (yet strengthening) circle of supporters. I learned that grief and the support you receive lies on a spectrum: one end holds lectures, judgments, and criticism, while the other end provides love, true help, and compassion.

As a professor of theology and religious studies, my research focused on trauma, suffering, and the process of healing. Because of my profession, books have always been a source of comfort for me, a way to learn about the world and process experiences. I was, therefore, inclined toward reading as a therapeutic way of moving through the aftermath of my mother’s death and the evolution of relationships left in the wake of the event. I was shocked to discover that the area of grief and grief support is an under-researched field. There are numerous volumes available for therapists on how to diagnose and counsel grief in patients, but less self-help books for actual grievers to use in their journey, and even fewer for grief supporters on how to help friends and family through a loss with compassion. At Barnes and Noble, the grief related books took up less than one self. I came away from this experience with a desire to devote my time to writing about grief.

The purpose of my newly focused blog is to:

  1. Share my experiences of grief (the good, bad, and ugly) with others who are walking the same path,
  2. Suggest how grief supporters can bring compassion to their responses when they are unsure of what to do when someone they love experiences a loss, and
  3. Make conversations about a common, yet unpleasant, subject more comfortable.

My grief travelogue here are ancarroll.com will offer a variety of items for grievers and grief supporters:

  • Meditations to help visitors focus their week,
  • Reflections on my experiences and lessons I learned throughout the grief journey,
  • Suggestions for how to move through your grief journey one day at a time, and
  • Resources (books, articles, films, and professional services) that may offer a foundation on which to build during the transition period that is grief.

As much as I hope to share with you, I hope to learn from you as well. Please contact me with questions I might help you answer, or feel free to send stories of your experiences to me. If there are resources you used during your grief journey, please share them with me. I will research them with the goal of including them in my resource list for other visitors.

 

Thank you for reading, and welcome to my journey.

Xo,

A

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