"May God bless and comfort all this New Year's 2012. May we continue to trudge down this road of pain and sorrow and may it "soften" a little."
~A lovely New Year's wish (and picture) from a grieving mother, "KLJ"
on The Compassionate Friends of Atlanta site,
one of the several child-loss grief groups on Facebook to which I belong
With Child-Loss Grief and Trauma...
Some "Tools" to Help Us
A grieving mother sent me an email this week, asking what are some of the child-loss grief groups available, as I have mentioned in our blog some to which I belong, so today I will share a few of them with you in this post. One is quoted from above, The Compassionate Friends of Atlanta. It is one of the many branches of The Compassionate Friends, USA (TCF) which has a webpage which can be followed on Facebook. TCF also has many local groups, not just "virtual" groups to which you can belong (for free!) It is designed for grieving parents, grandparents, and siblings of a deceased child to come together to give and receive support during this devastating loss of a child.
TCF's main "virtual" site is https://www.facebook.com/TCFUSA
Its main webpage can be found at http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx
And its local chapter locator site can be found at
Tommy and I joined our local TCF group here in Knoxville, Tennessee, "The Compassionate Friends, Knoxville" (we have no worldwide-web exposure yet!) about two years ago, and it has been such a great help for us.
General Helping Tools:
Ten Ways of Giving
The way of celebration: gratitude
The way of generativity: helping others grow
The way of forgiveness: set yourself free
The way of courage: speak up, speak out
The way of humour: connect with joy
The way of respect: look deeper and find value
The way of compassion: feel for others
The way of loyalty: love across time
The way of listening: offer deep presence
The way of creativity: invent and innovate
~ STEPHEN POST & JILL NEIMARK,
in "Why Good Things Happen to Good People"
Spiritually-Supporting Helping Tools:
A Sharpened Focus
"When you know that this life is not all there is," says Anne Graham Lotz, "and you know that one day you are going to be standing before God giving an account of your life, and you know that there is a great big eternity out there when we are going to worship the Lamb and forever glorify Him, it gives you a seriousness about life now. It sharpens your focus and motivates you to live every moment of your life fully to the glory of God."
Train yourself to focus on eternity. Focus on the big picture, not on your own limited life on earth.
In some ways you probably feel more unfocused than you have ever felt in your life, as if you are walking around in a constant fog of grief. In other ways you may feel more alert than ever because you are observing life from a completely different perspective. Many things—from the simple to the complex—take on a different meaning or level of importance to you. Sharpen your focus on the God of eternity by reading His Word daily. Stop trying to handle your tumultuous life alone.
"If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success" (Ecclesiastes 10:10 nasb).
Eternal God, grant me the wisdom and the focus to recommit my days to You. Help me to understand the seriousness of following Your eternal plan as written in the Bible. Amen.
~by Anne Graham Lotz, thanks to Grieving Mom, "JW-T" for sharing
Emotionally Supportive Helping Tools ~ Child-Loss Grief Groups:
Celebrating earlier this morning on the One-Year anniversary with Barbara, the founder of "Grieving Mothers," https://www.facebook.com/groups/Grievingmothers/ another of the several child-loss grief groups to which I belong:
~~~"Happy Birthday" to "Grieving Mothers"~~~
You are so amazing to be able to share so much of yourself with us. Your endurance / perseverance through grief gives us hope and direction. I know your responsiveness to all of us on this site has to require an incredible devotion of heart and spirit. I just wanted you to know I so appreciate you, and all of your giftings to us. I quote you so often on my blog ~( I hope you're not sick of my borrowing from you so often for my "Saturday's Sayings," on my blog, not to mention using the many wonderful pics you share with us)!!!
It has been amazing to me to watch this group grow by leaps and bounds in just one year! Thank you for inviting me in a year ago; I lost my 19-yr-old "forever teen angel" just 5 years ago, and I have found group support with other grieving moms and dads has been a tremendous help for me in my own coping and healing. I am a Christian psychotherapist, and a grieving mother; healing through this grief and trauma has been quite a challenge for me; my body is still reeling from all the trauma it has been through in these few short years, and finding helps for my woundedness is so greatly appreciated. I cannot imagine 25 years of compiled pain; may we all season as gracefully as you seem to.
Thank you so much for your servant's heart for all of us. May God bless you and keep you oh so close to His heart. I will be honored to light a candle for your precious little Jeremy today. Today, I am sharing this picture with you that I found at Dr. Athena Staik's fb page, but I want you to imagine that this is a giant heart of love formed in Heaven today as all our precious angels surround your Jeremy with all their hearts of love, holding him close in heart until you get there to hold him not only close to your heart as you do now, but also, finally, close within your own mothering arms.♥
Some Mentally- and Physically-Supportive Tools to Help...
Newsweek shares tips for helping your brain in this week's edition!
Clues from a January 1, 2012 Newsweek Magazine article on how to
from "Buff Your Brain"
(Sharing just a few tips with you that editor Sharon Begley presents)
Although most of us think of motor skills and cognitive skills as like oil and water, in fact a number of studies have found that refining your sensory-motor skills can bolster cognitive ones. No one knows exactly why, but it may be that the two brain systems are more interconnected than we realize. So learn to knit, or listen to classical music, or master juggling, and you might be raising your IQ.
While improving your brain takes work, the good news is there are some accessible ways to go about it. Aerobic exercise buffs the brain as well as the quads. Walking 30 minutes a day five times a week stimulates production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a molecule that nurtures the creation of the new neurons and synapses that underlie learning. In neuroimaging studies, scientists led by Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have shown that exercise increases gray matter in the region of the hippocampus that processes new knowledge and dispatches it to permanent storage in the frontal cortex.
If a half-hour walk leaves you tired, good: a midday nap not only can restore brain power to its fully awake best but can also raise it beyond what it would have been without some shut-eye. In a 2010 study, psychology professor Matthew Walker and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, found that a nap may not merely restore brain power but also raise it. Students who took a 90-minute nap at 2 p.m. after a task that taxes the hippo-campus—learning the names of some 120 faces they had never seen—retained more than their non-napping peers. Even more surprising, they also learned new face-name pairs better at 6 p.m. than they had before the nap, and better than the non-nappers. “In people who stayed awake, there was a deterioration in their memory capacity, but a nap restored that capacity to levels even higher than before the nap,” says Walker. So kudos to Nike and the host of Silicon Valley companies like Google that provide nap rooms for employees.
EEGs, electrodes that record brain activity, suggest how that happened. The number of bursts of electrical activity called sleep spindles—Walker calls them “champagne pops in the brain”—that people experienced during their naps predicted how much their ability to learn would improve once they awoke. Sleep spindles, he suspects, indicate activity in the hippocampus that moves information from that region into the cortex for permanent storage. It’s like moving data from a USB stick onto a hard drive, which “both consolidates into long-term storage the information you offload and leaves you a renewed capacity for absorbing new information—learning,” says Walker. The better we move information from the hippocampus (working memory) into the cortex, the more information we can access when we need it.
Even without the midday nap, the brain has a way of carving out its own downtime, characterized by what’s called the “default-mode network”—basically, brain activity that takes place when you’re daydreaming or keeping your mind blank. Using functional MRI, scientists at Japan’s Tohoku University measured cerebral blood flow in 63 volunteers asked to keep their minds blank. Those with the greatest blood flow in the white matter that connects one neuron to another scored highest on a task requiring them to quickly generate novel ideas, the researchers reported in the journal PLoS One in November. Creativity arises from seeing connections others miss, so it makes sense that increasing the activity in white matter by letting the brain rest in default mode supports creativity. So put away the BlackBerry and let your brain idle.
Too hyper to do that? Then go all in with a jolt of caffeine. It might not make you more creative, but coffee can make your mind sharper, as zillions of java addicts will swear. A 2011 study in Nature Neuroscience backs them up: in lab rodents, caffeine strengthens brain connections. Rats given shots of joe comparable to two cups of coffee had stronger electrical activity between neurons in the part of the hippocampus called CA2 than they did otherwise, found Serena Dudek of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and colleagues. Stronger connectivity means better learning and memory.
Here's a brain-buffing trifecta:
- Memory training +
- Fueled by caffeine +
- Interspersed with good sleep +
- Aerobic conditioning, +
- Computer-based brain exercises to hone attention, +
- A regimen of reading, +
- Watching, +
- Doing +
- Broken up by ample mental downtime:
It promises to add up to a smarter you in 2012 and beyond. (!!!)
~Sharon Begley, the science columnist and science editor of Newsweek*
Best Wishes in the New Year as you lovingly nurture yourself through your great grief.
Feel free to let us know what kinds of "tools" have been the most helpful to you!
*Sharon Bagley is also the coauthor of the 2002 book The Mind and the Brain and the author of the 2007 book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain.Sharon Begley is the science columnist and science editor of Newsweek.She is the coauthor of the 2002 book The Mind and the Brain and the author of the 2007 book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain.