Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Mourner's Bill of Rights

The following is handout we received at our support group meeting the other night. It's called "The Mourner's Bill of Rights". Very interesting.

The Mourner's Bill of Rights
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Though you should reach out to others as you do the work of mourning, you should not feel obligated to accept the unhelpful responses you may receive from some people. You are the one who is grieving, and as such, you have certain "rights" no one should try to take away from you.

The following list is intended both to empower you to heal and to decide how others can and cannot help. This is not to discourage you from reaching out to others for help, but rather to assist you in distinguishing useful responses from hurtful ones.

1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don't allow them to tell what you should or should not be feeling.

2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want, about your grief. If at times you don't feel like talking, you also have the right to be silent.

3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.
Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey. Others may try to tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don't take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.

4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don't allow others to push you into doing things you don't feel ready to do.

5. You have the right to experience "griefbursts."
Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.

6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More importantly, the funeral is a way for you to mourn. If others tell you the funeral or other healing rituals such as these are silly or unnecessary, don't listen.

7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
If faith is a part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry at God, find someone to talk with
who won't be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.

8. You have the right to search for meaning.
You may find yourself asking, "Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?" Some of your questions may have answers, but some may not. And watch out for the clich├ęd responses some people may give you. Comments like, "It was God's will" or "Think of what you have to be thankful for" are not helpful and you do
not have to accept them.

9. You have the right to right to treasure your memories.
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.

10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.
Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. Neither you nor those around you must forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.


Mary said...

Thank you for sharing. I had a comment this week where I was told "You guys love to torture yourself". It hurt.

Anonymous said...

So very true. thanks for sharing, Lea. xoxo

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this! We are all entitled to grieve how we need to.

still life angie said...

Thanks for sharing this. I might share it on Facebook, if that is okay?

Debby@Just Breathe said...

That is really nice. I made a copy and make sure I approach women in the right way.
YOU DO HAVE THE RIGHT! I agree totally.

Summer said...

Thanks for posting this. It's nice to feel understood and sort of get an official "Hey, it's okay to feel this way." Thanks.

Hope's Mama said...

i'm going to share this with my babyloss friend in real life who doesn't blog. thank you.

Lisa and Jonathan said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm going to share this with other women who lost their precious little ones.

Carly said...

Very helpful to read, thanks for sharing.

Shanti Mama said...

This is very helpful, thanks for sharing.

Julie said...

Thanks Lea, I have taken a copy too. Julie

Fiona said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious Nicholas. I lost my son, Bailey, 4 months ago.

This is exactly what I needed to read to understand that it is okay to feel this way.

Lea said...

Hi Ladies,

You are more than welcome to take a copy. I hope it can be helpful.

Love to you all,

My Very Own Angel said...

Thank you for sharing I really like this.

Unknown said...

I too have had people say some pretty crazy things like one of my very best friends just told me 2 days ago "we have been on the phone for 20 minutes alls you have talked about ic Camron, you havent asked about me or my daughter". Its only been 2 1/2 months since I lost my precious baby boy and I will continue to talk about him forever. I really think people that have not experienced the death of a child just do not understand the depth of pain we feel. But I also think its a shame.

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