Comprehending Grief in a Non-Comprehensive World.

      ‘Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called GRIEF’

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Recently I have been quietly observing the outpour of grief around the world by fans of musical icon Prince. As a long-term fan I have noticed an influx of commentary on certain FB pages by people astonished by the poor reactions from family and friends who have ‘berated’, ‘mocked’ or ‘belittled’ them for expressing their grief for our late Prince. It seems that society can not comprehend the attachment one forms to an artist and their body of art. Society struggles to accept that this grief is real even when it has been experienced by millions of people across all continents since his death on April 21st, 2016.

I understand these reactions because I have also felt them too. My reaction to Prince’s death has re-triggered for me the feelings I have felt from previous losses in my life (death and non-death) and the feeling one gets when they are in active mourning – this aftermath of grief can include feelings of great sadness, waves of emotions, psychosomatic complaints and ‘grief attacks’.

To integrate this loss we must examine the genesis behind these emotions. Many fans have followed Prince’s career since his beginning in the musical limelight (1978) to more recently his ‘Piano and Microphone’ tour. Prince has been an investment for many kindred souls; the upside to this is that he never disappointed his fans, we were always privileged with new music and indirectly spiritual guidance, his deep seeded compassion was felt through the speakers that ignited in us those ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brains responsible for healthy well being and ‘natural highs’. Thus, this sorrow for Prince is now associated  with the sad acceptance that this genius no longer walks amongst us – there will be no more new music – no more concerts or ‘after parties’ – No more ‘behind the scene’ charity fundraisers and NO MEMOIR which for fans was to be the highlight of his career.

In summary, I want to re-assure his masses of fans that this grief has a name and it is real, for those who don’t understand we must educate. This grief is ‘disenfranchised’ and not recognised by society in whole and most likely never will! It’s not validated nor seen as a ‘natural’ response to loss because it is indirect, in other words – people do not recognise this loss due to our poor association with the deceased. People can not see the correlation between our grief and the reactions we have for someone we never knew (Even if we all felt a connection to him emotionally).

To read more about this in detail please click here: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/disenfranchised-grief/

Thus, continuing to grieve for Prince must be encouraged. The more people connect with their grief the more they feel validated to accept that these emotions are real and a process that needs to organically happen to fully understand and make meaning of such a loss and void in our hearts.

People coming together in their grief promotes well being and acceptance. It enables people to feel comforted and enables healing to take place. Just like the music we must listen to each other’s laments and VALIDATE the raw emotion associated with this loss.

 

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‘Paisley Park is in your heart’ – A rainbow offered many fans a symbol of hope on the morning of Prince’s death. Paisley Park instantaneously became a public shrine in Prince’s memory by fans all across the world’.

 

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Even in death Prince has enabled people of all creeds to unite together in recognition of his enormous visions and endless creative genius…. Mourning together creates a space of acceptance and the ability to be with others on the same grief journey as ourselves.

WE MUST REMEMBER that Prince existed as does our love and passion for him. In death we must continue to idolise him from afar because in our hearts he has always been near. We don’t need to call no shrink in Beverly Hills because we are not going nuts! Prince’s family are his fans and we are ALL connected by a purple umbilical cord – No one can separate us from his musical womb – we will always remain attached.

 

Rest In Prince

1958 – 2016

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Written by Janice Butera.

Follow me on my FB page: My Bereavement Companion.

 

 

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Why do we mourn for those we have never met?

On Friday I was confronted with the tragic news of the passing of my musical icon, Prince. I stood stunned in silence and disbelief, Prince was immortal, men like Prince don’t ‘die’. This is not real!

Upon hearing of Prince’s death I felt overwhelmed with sorrow, I sobbed and cried for a man I had never met. Somewhere within my heart there was a place always reserved for him, a personal catalogue of Prince memories that belonged to me all of which stemming from my treasured youth to my current middle years. Prince and I were to grow old together, I need his music more today than I did yesterday.

Today I am honouring my grief  because Prince represented something deeper and richer for me than most felt. I spent many hours analysing his lyrics, studying the artworks on his albums and connecting with Prince friends around the world (in a day). My pen pals offered me great solace when no one seemed to understand foolishly, we would share our inner most deepest secrets about Prince in letters that I have kept as a momentum of my youth. This time in my life was before the onslaught of the internet or ’email’, they were simpler times and less complicated with technology. These connections with other people who understood my passion for Prince validated that it was important to set your own rules and create your own pathway in life. It was about human presence and ‘connectedness’ – something we have sadly lost over the years.

The greatest pleasure in my life was being able to purchase Prince’s new music. To be born in an era of musical brilliance is a privilege reserved for those who appreciate talent. I was young and on the journey of self-discovery, Prince was my navigator, my map and my rocket ship to the moon. Prince’s music was my fuel and it was a constant companion in all phases of my life.

Losing an icon is about losing one’s self-identity. I invited Prince into my world and it served a purpose for me. I am able to express who I am because I always felt a connection with him, so losing Prince is about ‘letting go’ of the child who spent hours mesmerised by this extra terrestrial of a human being. Prince represented HOPE that if you applied yourself you surely will succeed, amidst some disappointments but regardless, there was always HOPE. He broke down stereotypes and gender roles, he was humble and an advocate for the disenfranchised and disadvantaged. His music served to re-define the norms, his voice was a tool that reached his masses of fans all united for their love of his talents and now in our grief.

Mourning for an icon is about facing our own death anxiety. We can not deny that all living things must die, accepting this reality is a difficult one. The enormity of their legacies are beyond this realm. My children’s children will be studying Prince for years to come, I hope to be alive to witness this legacy.

         “Legends also succumb to death, she awaits all of us lurching from behind”.

The death of these extraordinary people encourages us to reach out to others and spread good will. United in grief we must console and respect the griever’s passage of rite to feel what needs to be felt for as long as they need too. Losing Prince for me is about cherishing what he practised in life and that was:

LOVE4ONEANOTHER.

I don’t have any more words for now but just silence in recognition of a man who gave us so many fond memories. His music spoke volumes to me so today I feel muted……

Written by Janice Butera                                                         

 

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MAY U LIVE 2 C THE DAWN

 

 

What I want from you ©…..

Today I felt your heavy heart as you stood and watched me from afar,
I knew you wanted to say something but you didn’t have the right words,
I felt your compassion as you avoided my sadness,
I can not be fixed, accept me as broken,
I know your avoidance is an act of kindness for you feel my pain too,
But please acknowledge that you can help half my burden too,
If words won’t offer me solace than give me your presence.

Today what I need from you are your ears,
Please offer them to me so I can share with you a story,
I promise you won’t offend me with your questions,
Go ahead and ask me some more….

I love to speak my loved one’s name,
It gives me pride to give them air play,

I won’t lie that your absence hurts me more,
Just a small gesture or call is all I need from you,
You and I both know that what I want right now is my loved
one beside me, in my arms, happy and holy.

This is just what my heart wants and yearns for but my head knows the truth,
So give to me your love and hold me in your arms, make me feel happy
and holy again, give me your presence and don’t avoid my stare…

What I want from you is you, give me what I need…….

 

Written by Janice Butera

Dear Sir or Madame © …..

To whom it may concern,

I need to address with you my poor state of heart. My sorrow seems to follow me like a shadow and it frightens me. I tried to hide under the covers but it sneaked in and tried to  smother me with it’s darkness. I tried to run and hide from it but it appeared from behind the door. I tried to wash it out in the shower but it stood there starring at me through the mirror. I got into my car and slammed the door but it sat next to me forcing me to navigate to the right when all I wanted to do was turn left!!

Please sir or madam I need you to understand that this sorrow, my grief is now part of me and my whole existence. It’s there when I awake and there when I fall asleep…. It haunts me in my dreams and it penetrates my pores somehow…. It’s altered my DNA and become part of my gene pool…

What I ask from you dear sir or madame is acceptance and a new understanding. I try and I try but I can not escape this; this is my new home now… Please don’t throw rocks at me but rather build a bridge to meet me half way, I can’t walk the whole distance on my own…

 

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So dear sir or madame please companion with me and join me on this grief journey… I don’t need words right now, I just need you to UNDERSTAND that this monster won’t leave me but please don’t be afraid because this is my MONSTER and it won’t harm you…. So please sir or madame introduce yourself and feed my heart your unconditional love. My monster needs your companionship….. So please go ahead and feed it some more love and help me cross that bridge…..

 

Written by Janice Butera

 

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“The sun kissed tree’s sway back and forth and I am reminded of you and the liveliness that once existed – But all that is now gone” – Janice

 

When will this pain ever go away?

 

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Grief is an unwanted friend – it shows up when we least expect it and in it’s presence it leaves us gasping for air. No one ever said that grieving was an ‘easy’ task – Alas it is a process and a life long one at that! Grief is not only an emotional response to losing a loved one but it challenges us in many other aspects as well.

 

Spiritually: Grief has a way of challenging our belief system. It’s much easier to project hurt, anger and spite at our God who callously, without notice, took away our loved one/s than to focus within and accept the reality of our losses. We can either turn to religion or spirituality or we can reject it forever. Being part of a community is an asset and most find comfort in visiting with spiritual leaders and discussing existential concerns. However, some may find this as an assault on their senses. There is no right or wrong way to grieve spiritually – You don’t need to follow someone else’s dogma; you may choose to create your own.

Physically: Heartache, nausea, restlessness, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, psycho-somatic complaints are all real and part of the grieving process. The brain, the stomach and heart will all grieve together. There will be moments of ‘physical pain’ where it hurts to blink, your body is adjusting to the separation of your loved one. Your empty arms will crave to hold your love again – This is the time to nourish your senses; if you decide to numb these physical reactions than your at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease or even so a chronic illness… The body grieves too – allow for this.

Emotionally: We are a former shell of ourselves after a loss. Emotionally we may choose to dissociate from our surroundings and those who love us most. Grief is a time for mindfulness and connection. Being emotionally absent can damage us from forming new relationships with others or cause us to emotionally ‘block’ our feelings which intern can isolate us from the people who care for us the most. It is okay to be sad, or angry or ashamed. All these emotions need to interact with one another, we need to allow them space and time to enable us to allow other emotions in like joy and happiness. Always remember that sadness and joy can co-exist, even if the joy is short lived – explore that emotion and give your grief ‘time out’ for restoration and replenishing.

Psychologically: Sometimes our grief may re-trigger a former event in our lives that may have shattered our psychological well being. Feeling anxious or depressed are co-morbidities that exist and are real. We need to explore past trauma and re-assess our coping mechanisms. If you feel that your motivation is non-existent and you’re at risk of self harm please alert someone and give voice to the hurt. Grief is not the time to isolate or be alone. Some people may suffer with ‘Chronic Adjustment Disorder’ as a result of their loss: http://www.healthline.com/health/adjustment-disorder#Overview1. Please visit with a GP or Psychologist to have this diagnosed as it may impinge on your grief.

In summary, the pain of grief will always remain. It may be re-triggered by a memory, a scent, a song, an event. ‘Re-investing’ in life can enable one to get back to living a new norm again. If you feel like you are ‘stuck’ in your grief or you are unable to oscillate from moments of sorrow and joy than endeavour to visit a GP or professional who may be able to ascertain if you are in fact experiencing ‘prolonged grief’ or ‘complicated grief’. Thus, there is a criteria that practitioners use to diagnose this disorder. Remember being grief-stricken is not about being labeled with a condition but it’s about allowing yourself to feed the inner child and nourish the soul for healing. The internal pain can be exercised to help you ‘move forward’ – However, you don’t need to do this alone.

Janice Butera

Bereavement Counsellor and Blogger

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Tis’ the season to be jolly?

December has always been a month of reflection and ambiguity. For many the year has been joyous with many new adventures and milestones. However for most the year may reflect moments of great sadness and sorrow.

Losing someone to death will catapult anyone into the unknown and disable their well being  (both emotional and physical) for the short term. Sometimes the short term becomes long term and this becomes a cyclic motion of lamenting, yearning and longing.

‘My grief is always triggered off at this time of the year – It seems to lay dormant until December  and it hits me again like a tidal wave ~ Mybereavementcompanion.com

The empty chair that sits at the end of the table is a reminder of the absence of a loved one. The chair that remains empty is void of personality, warmth and love that would normally be exuded during the holiday season. This empty chair is a representation of a break in the chain. A significant figure of your family, someone who can not be replaced is missing forever.

As the season draws closer I would encourage everyone to ‘trend lightly’. There should be no expectation of how you should behave on the day. Christmas comes with much bittersweetness as you drive past cemeteries with freshly laid flowers or mourners quietly standing beside a memorial site.

If your Christmas cheer has been extinguished try lighting it in other ways. Societal expectations were meant to be broken after all.

 

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My Bereavement Companion

‘My grief can not come out in the wash. This stain may change colour and shape over time but it’s still engrained into my soul where it remains part of me today’ ~ MyBereavementCompanion.com

Any loss we experience in life will leave us with a dent in our heart. Tangible or non-tangible losses can be felt and reverberated decades later. Some of us may choose to wear our grief on our sleeve or others may choose to dig it deep into the earth’s core. Regardless about choice, your grief is unique to you and only you!

This website looks at exploring and exposing grief, loss and bereavement truths and fallacies. Our reactions to our losses and post-growth as a result is what gives us the tools we require to continue to heal  and survive daily. Eventually  we evolve around our grief (refer to Lois Tonkin’s ‘Growing around grief’ model) and we no longer let it consume us.

This webpage is also designed to remember and show case our loved one’s to a Worldwide audience via a ‘virtual memorial’ option. This enables the griever to re-visit and pay tribute to a loved one online in the privacy of their own home. This homage to our loved one’s can be shared, altered and made ‘special’ by design options that capture and highlight your loved one in their very own lime light **coming soon**

‘Somedays you may climb mountains and on other days you may  sink into a whirlpool of darkness. Grief has the power to enable or disable you.. Which one will you choose? ~ MyBereavmentCompanion.com

Today we start by validating our losses both primary and secondary. Our online community is about instilling strength and power to people who grieve on a daily continuum. People who grieve together also ‘thrive’ together. We aim to promote a better tomorrow by role modelling a better today for you. We have no expectations of you other than you being respectful and empathetic to your fellow friend in grief. We offer you the wonderful gift of companionship.

Welcome to all our new ‘Bereavement Companions’. Unpack your bags and stay for a while. Your journey has just began!

Sending much lightness your way

Janice Butera