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Friday, May 27, 2011

death benefits

orange  butterfly
I  recently co- facilitated a workshop titled" Adults in Mourning, Grieving the Death of a Parent" at  Community Care Hospice  in Somerville, NJ  My colleague and friend Angela and I  have led this group for several years and we always have wonderful folks participating. They  are very eager to  learn ways to understand the grieving process.
This year, the group was wonderful . We share stress reducing  strategies, spiritual exercises  heartfelt stories about  the deaths of loved ones, and  resources. One of the woman in the group shared a book called" Death Benefits ,How losing a Parent Can Change an Adult's life". The title is provocative and it resulted in very interesting discussions about how this can be  true. Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adult's Life--For the Better.
Jeanne Safer is a psychotherapist and upon the death of her 92 year old mother, she learned some interesting things about who she was. She learned that death is painful   at whatever  age your parent dies. And there are still pathways to explore about your own life's  journey that were possibly shut down by loving our parents so much. She talks about  becoming our most authentic  selves after our parents die.

This is another way  of saying make lemonade if you get lemons. But I wonder if there is not deeper truth to it. In my own family, my grandmother was unable to grieve in a healthy manner after the death of her  21 year old son. And she would not allow  the rest of the family to talk about his death either . Long after my grandmother's  death, my mother and the rest of the family  were able to grieve for our  brother, uncle and cousin . The life pattern was so strong that it took many years for us to  change it.
What if the deaths of our parents, can  help us to notice and then  expand the ways that we see our world and in the process expand our own quality of life.
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