5 Tips to Help Someone Dealing with Grief

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It’s my mom’s birthday next week, you know. October 14th. Since she passed away from cancer last year (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), this time of year can be somewhat difficult for my family and me. This year, I am honoring her with #10DaysofTribute. You can join me here: http://on.fb.me/1OgXLSs

Grief is a funny thing, though—it can surface unexpectedly and is no respecter of time or convenience. I can be doing really well for awhile, and then something will trigger it (the movie Cinderella, for example—have you noticed how often parents die in movies??) and I’ll suddenly be in tears…in public…again. My current record is four public crying sessions in one week, haha. Often small triggers will build up over time until something happens that opens the floodgates. At those times, I have been so grateful for those people who have been there to help me through them.

Tragic experiences are difficult for the person dealing with them, but it can also be hard for those who want to help to know what to do. I’ve realized that a lot of times, people just don’t know what to say. I don’t blame them. Grief is not something that’s very culturally acceptable to talk about, and everyone deals with grief differently. I do my best to be understanding when people struggle to know how to help me in the midst of a meltdown. Over the last year and a half plus of going through my own grieving process, I’ve noticed a few basic things people have done that help me the most.

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Out of Small Things

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I love General Conference. Twice a year, in October and April, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak to the Church and the world at large. It’s six sessions of inspired music and messages that give counsel for our day. This conference has been amazing so far, and my brother is in town from Colorado, so it has been fun to spend time with (i.e. tease, poke, and otherwise annoy) him. We have good times. I also watched the Saturday afternoon session with an old mission companion, and she is fantastic. Love her so much.

Time with family and friends is great, but conference is also a time of revelation—a time when, if I’m prepared to receive it, I can get specific revelation from God for my life. Lately, at times it has been difficult to see his hand at work, but as I’ve thought back, I have been humbled to remember the miracles God has shown in my life. Let me tell you a story.

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Unfinished Glory

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Hi.

My name is Ariel, and I’m a perfectionist. Struggled with it all my life. Most of my major issues can be traced back to my perfectionism.

I start my post with a nod to AA only half-jokingly—I believe perfectionism really is a pattern of addictive behavior. Brene Brown, one of my new favorite people, agrees with me. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, she defines perfectionism like this:

Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.

….Perfectionism is addictive because when we invariably do experience shame, judgment, and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. So rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to live, look, and do everything just right. (pg. 57)

How exhausting. And not only that, but she goes on to explain that perfectionism stifles creativity, and stifled creativity leads to frustration, hopelessness, discontent, and basically a life that is very unhappy.

Those feelings are familiar to me. Lately I’ve been feeling more of an urge to WRITE. To tell my story in my own words in my own way. But I’ve been allowing those limiting beliefs of perfectionism to hold me back, and I’ve been getting sick of it—sick of letting my fear of shame hold me back from doing what I want to do and accomplishing what I want to accomplish. So I’m going to do something about it.

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