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:
- Share my experiences of grief (the good, bad, and ugly) with others who are walking the same path,
- 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
- 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.