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Go to Endnotes

 Surviving Loss
 
 
 Introduction.
 
      Taking  time for my children has always been important.   At 
 least once a week I would make certain to drive my oldest  daugh-
 ter to first grade.  She would give me a hug, a kiss on the nose, 
 another  hug and then run off to class, stopping briefly to  wave 
 before she disappeared into the school.  With a drop off time  of 
 8:15  and  an office that opened later, those drives  gave  me  a 
 chance  to let Jessica know that she came first and to  start  my 
 day with putting family first.
 
      Later, as our baby Courtney started to be a toddler, I would 
 get up with her when she awoke in the early mornings and she  and 
 I would sit down on the floor and read the morning paper  togeth-
 er.   That let her tired mother get a little more sleep and  gave 
 me  a  time each morning where I could put my  child  and  family 
 first.  "The best part of waking up ... "
 
      I was asked to write this article to share how my wife and I 
 coped  with the unexpected and unrelated deaths of  Jessica[1]  and 
 Courtney[2]  and what we have done to help our surviving  daughter.  
 It  is hoped that this might help others who find  themselves  in 
 the circumstances of losing a child or other loved one.[3] [4]
 
 
 What to Expect

 
 Grief.
 
      All  significant  loss results in grief.  If you've  lost  a 
 grandparent,  a pet, a job, or had to move, you have  experienced 
 loss and grief and the associated stress.
 
      For  "normal"  stress your mind  automatically  responds  in 
 whatever  pattern you use to deal with stress.  For  some  people 
 that  means jogging, for some it means swearing, for  some,  time 
 with a good book or the television.  
 
      Everyone  has coping mechanisms that are used to  deal  with 
 "normal" stress.[5]
 
      However, when a person experiences extraordinary stress, the 
 normal  coping  mechanisms are not enough.  As a result,  when  a 
 person  experiences  a loss beyond the normal stresses  and  con-
 flicts of life, they subconsciously begin to cycle through  vari-
 ous methods of coping, trying to find one that works better.  
 
      This  happens  to  everyone  who  experiences  extraordinary 
 stress.  The not necessarily rational logic used by your  subcon-
 scious  is:   "I  have to try something new, after  all,  if  the 
 normal method worked, the stress would be gone."
 
      Half  of  dealing  with grief is  recognizing  this  cycling 
 process  (which occurs over and over again) and  working  through 
 the  disruption  and pain that accompanies it.   The  other  half 
 consists of enduring pain.  While it is extreme, deep and  force-
 ful,  and while it never completely heals, you can learn to  cope 
 with the pain that grief provides.
 
 
 Incapacity.
 
      In addition to being painful, severe loss is incapacitating.  
 For example, the period of substantial incapacity normally  lasts 
 one to three years when a child dies, nine to fifteen months  for 
 a miscarriage.[6]  Often losing a job results in substantial  inca-
 pacity for three to twelve months.
 
      Because  a substantial portion of incapacity is the loss  of 
 mental function, a person who has lost a child often is not  able 
 to  properly gauge the depth or level of their incapacity.   Many 
 people  report that immediately following their loss,  they  lost 
 the  ability  to  stand, talk and think at the  same  time.   The 
 mental effort required to keep their balance took more than  they 
 had.
 
      At  the same time, they were unaware of suffering  from  any 
 incapacity, only looking back did they realize just how  impaired 
 they had been.
 
      Unfortuantely, in addition to reduced mental function [7] 
 greater financial obligations usually accompany loss.[8] Thus the 
 demands  on your ability increase as your ability decreases.
 
 
 Coping and Catastrophic Change
 
     By  nature,  everyone  has multiple ways to  cope  with  any 
 problem.  While everyone has heard of the "Flight or Fight" alter-
 natives, there are actually about nine methods of coping used  by 
 people,  each  with a typical type of action  and  an  associated 
 mental state.
 
      1.   Attack.  When faced with a problem, one may attack  it.  
 The action for this pattern is fighting and the emotion is anger.  
 Anyone who reacts to challenge and problems with anger is focused 
 on this pattern of resolving conflicts and problems.[9]
 
      2.   Fleeing.   When faced with a problem, a person can  run 
 away  from it.  The action is flight, and the emotional state  is 
 fear.  Many people run from their problems.[10]

      3.   Denial.   The action is to ignore the problem  and  the 
 emotional state is dullness.[11]
 
      4.   Dithering.   The  action associated with  dithering  is 
 random response and the emotional state is confusion.   Dithering 
 is also referred to in the literature as distracting.[12]
 
      5.   Co-option.  The action associated with co-opting  prob-
 lems  is  cooperation.[13]  The general act is trying  to  reach  a 
 participatory and collective action[14] and the emotional state  is 
 a cooperative one.
 
      6.   Analysis.   This response to stress or problems  is  to 
 attempt  to think through and understand the problem.   The  emo-
 tional state is usually curiosity.
 
      7.   Action.   This response is somewhat of the opposite  to 
 Analysis.  It is "doing something, anything" and in many ways  is 
 an  active  form  of dithering.  The emotional state  is  one  of 
 extreme intentness.[15]
 
      8.   Appeasement.   The general act is to just give  in  and 
 the general emotional state is guilt.
 
      9.   Anguish.  This response is to give up and the emotional 
 state is one of despair.[16] [17]  
 
      Whenever  there  is catastrophic change and pain,  the  mind 
 treats  the pain as a signal that the current methods  of  coping 
 need  to be changed.  The subconscious treats the pain  as  proof 
 that  the current method has failed and forces a person to  begin 
 to  try the methods over and over again until the pain  decreases 
 and something is found that "works."
 
      Persons  who have catastrophic loss will experience  all  of 
 the above states and methods over and over again in their  lives, 
 almost randomly, until the pain decreases.

       Thus,  if  a person were assaulted and robbed in  a  parking 
 lot,  they would feel anger, confusion, guilt and a desire to  do 
 something  (or  nothing) over and over again until the  pain  had 
 healed.   The emotions and states would be applied to  everything 
 in life, not just parking lots and banks.
 
      A  person who loses a child will suffer through  this  cycle 
 for at least a year and usually for three to five years.  If they 
 are  moved off track in their healing they can become stuck in  a 
 mode for five to ten years or even for life.[18]  One of the  worst 
 things  outsiders  can  do is pressure grieving  parents  not  to 
 resolve a mode or to attempt to force them to stick in one.
 Steps and Cycles
 
      It  is important to understand that these  steps  associated 
 with grief and mourning can afflict everyone, not just those with 
 "serious" losses.[19]  While these steps are caused by the constant 
 cycling of coping mechanisms, these steps occur, to some  extent, 
 in  every life when loss occurs.  While few lose  children,  many 
 lose  jobs, friends and other hopes, and experience  portions  of 
 the same steps.[20]
 
 Beware of Offensive Behavior
 
      Unfortunately, either through ignorance or self-centeredness
 and pettiness [21] there are people who say things that actively harm
 people who are grieving.[22]  Some examples of those comments are
 provided below for perspective.[23]
 
      "It could have been worse."  That is always true.  It is  by 
 no means consoling.  Going to an analogy, that a mugger only  put 
 out  one of your eyes instead of both is little consolation  that 
 you lost an eye.
 
      "Your child is in a better place."  Yes, and the person  who 
 has lost an eye in an accident can say that too.  The problem  in 
 grief  is  not that the loss is permanent, but that the  pain  is 
 severe and continuing.[24]
 
      "Think  of  all the money you will save!"  Yes, and  if  you 
 lost  your sight and couldn't drive, think of all the  money  you 
 would save.
 
     "God's  wake  up  call for your sins."[25]   Then  the  person 
 making the statement should not mind a similar wake up call?   Of 
 course  such a statement insists that Christ was the most  sinful 
 of all.[26]
 
      "You just need to work harder and take your mind off of it."  
 Most parents who have lost a child operate at about 10% to 15% of 
 their  normal capacity for at least six months.  Suggesting  that 
 the  person "do more" when they can actually do 85% less  is  in-
 sisting  that the person do things that gratify the  demander  -- 
 often  at the expense of whatever energy the person has  to  care 
 for their family and remaining loved ones.
 
      "Come back in six months when we have more time to help."[27]
 
      "I understand, I had a hangnail once."[28]
 
 
 Coping When a Child Dies
 
      In  spite  of  it all, it is possible to  cope.   You,  your 
 family  and others can all do things that will help you  make  it 
 through the loss of a child (or other significant loss) in  shape 
 to make a better tomorrow and able to care for those who  remain.  
 Always  remember, those who remain need you as much as those  who 
 died.[29]
 
 For Outsiders.
 
      1.   Express  sympathy and feel free to express that you  do 
 not know what to say.  The statement "I'm so sorry, I don't  know 
 what to say, but I want you to know that I am so sorry and I wish 
 I could do more.  We are praying for you and thinking of you." is 
 just fine.  It is truthful, honest and direct, doing no harm.
 
      Those who told my family (and the other families we have met 
 who also lost children) "I'm so sorry, I don't know what to  say, 
 but I want you to know that I am so sorry" -- those people do not 
 know just how much good they did.
 
      2.   Anticipate,  with patience, inappropriate behavior  and 
 emotions.   When  a  person  acts  inappropriately[30]  because  of 
 stress,  it does little good to increase the stress by  attacking 
 the person under stress.
 
      3.   Often,  especially  if the financial  strain  has  been 
 severe  and  funds  are being collected, it is  wise  to  provide 
 support and help in managing donated funds.[31]
 
      4.   Do  not ignore all references to the dead child.   They 
 are  dead, not erased.  Letting a grieving family  discuss  their 
 child -- at their own time and pace -- often helps a great deal.
 
      5.   At the family members' own pace, allow them to partici-
 pate  in social activities and church callings.  It is  generally 
 best to continue family members involvement in various  positions 
 and to support them in their weakness, rather than releasing them 
 from  everything -- to the extent that the organization  has  the 
 ability to allow such a course of action.[32]
 
      It  is important for those who lose children to keep on  and 
 to not give into despair.  Being involved in life, social activi-
 ties and church helps that healing process as long as those  well 
 wishers do not overwhelm the grieving parent.[33]
 
      6.   Finally, realize that the need for patience and resolv-
 ing  grief are both long term processes.  If you can't  help,  at 
 least  do not try to rush.  The pain will not be over in a  week, 
 not three to five weeks, not three to five months.  The  recovery 
 will not even be stable until three to five years.[34]
 
      Since  the  two most common results of  attempting  to  rush 
 recovery  are (1) increased stress and (2) locking the person  in 
 at a stage of grief (usually denial), rushing grief is often  the 
 most harmful thing someone can do to a grieving parent.[35]
 
 For Family Members.
 
      Nothing cures the pain.  Some things help a little.
 
      1.   Compassionate  Friends and other grief  support  groups 
 exist  and can help.  Being with those who have been through  the 
 same pain and loss can really make a difference -- often all  the 
 difference in the world.
 
      2.   Keep  moving.  If you stop, everything stops with  you.  
 You  have  living children and family as well as those  who  have 
 died.   It may seem impossible, but the sooner you can return  to 
 some  semblance of work (even at reduced hours), the sooner  your 
 mind will start to focus on healing.
 
      I  literally owe my life to the kindness of the  judges  and 
 attorneys  with  whom I interacted in the  months  following  the 
 deaths of my daughters.
 
      3.   Reduce stress.  Keep a journal,[36] pray,[37] and get  mild 
 aerobic exercise.[38]
 
      4.   Find  safe  places to express your  rage,  fear,  pain, 
 hurt,  rejection and confusion.  You will have all of those  emo-
 tions,  with  great intensity.  It will be difficult  to  express 
 them  in  an  "appropriate" way and it is best to  find  a  safe, 
 private place to express your emotions.

      5.   Provide safe places for other family members to express 
 their rage, fear, pain, hurt, rejection and confusion.[39]  Protect 
 those you love.
 
      6.   Be careful about becoming bitter.[40]
 
      7.   Turn towards those you love, rather than away.  This is 
 a key to those relationships that survive significant loss.   The 
 people  in them turn towards each other rather than inwards  when 
 placed  under stress.  You can change the odds from  95%  against 
 you  to  95% in your favor by controlling this one  factor  --  a 
 factor  that is a matter of personal choice and one you can  con-
 trol.
 
 
 Conclusion
 
      The  death of a child is a terrible loss that destroys  many 
 families.   Often  the fate of a family or some  of  its  members 
 hangs  by  a thread.  By loving and understanding,  by  the  pure 
 knowledge  of God, without hypocrisy and without guile,  families 
 can be supported in their pain and aided on the path to healing.
 
      It is my hope that this essay will help those who have  lost 
 children  and those who are close to them.  If I can help  anyone 
 who  has  lost  a child, or answer questions  about  this  essay, 
 please feel free to call me or to write.
 
 
 Partial Bibliography[41] Go to top of page.
 
 Dobson,  James When God Doesn't Make Sense, (Tyndale  House  Pub-
 lishers, Inc. 1993).
 
 Eadie,  Bettie  Embraced by the Light, (Gold  Leaf  Press  1992), 
 everyone will give you a copy.
 
 Elgin,  Suzette  The Last Word on The Gentle Art of  Verbal  Self 
 Defense, (Prentice Hall 1989)42
 
 Heavilin, Marilyn Roses in December, (Thomas Nelson, Inc.  1993), 
 an  excellent book for clients.  Marilyn is available on  line  @ 
 Prodigy.com // Medical BBS // Grief/Death.

 James & Cherry The Grief Recovery Handbook, (Harper & Row 1988).
 
 Johnson, Barbara Pain is Inevitable but Misery is Optional, (Ward 
 Publishing 1990).
 
 Johnson,  Sherry  After a Child Dies:   Counseling  Bereaved  Fa-
 milies, (Springer Publishing Company 1987).
 
 Maxwell, Neal All These Things, (Deseret Book 1979).
 
 Maxwell, Neal Not My Will, But Thine, (Bookcraft 1988).
 
 Nibley, Hugh If There Must Needs Be Offense, (FARMS 1971).
 
 O'Connor, Nancy Letting Go With Love:  The Grieving Process,  (La 
 Mariposa Press 1984).
 
 Rando, Therese [editor] Parental Loss of a Child, (Research Press 
 Company 1986), Clinical essays.
 
 Sanford,  Doris  It Must Hurt A Lot, (Multnomah  Press  1986),  a 
 children's book good enough I bought a copy for my child.
 
 Schillf, Harriett The Bereaved Parent, (Crown Publishers 1977).
 
 Taylor,  Connie Before Birth, Beyond Death,  (Horizon  Publishers 
 1987), children's book.
 
 Tittensor,  John  Year One, A Record, (Penguin 1984),  A  typical 
 journal type book.43
 
 Westberg,  Granger Good Grief (Fortress Press 1971), Elegant,  in 
 64 pages.
 
 
 Biography
 
      Stephen R. Marsh is an attorney practicing in  Wichita 
 County, Texas.
 
 
 Endnotes Go to top of page
 
 
 (1)  Jessica  died January 26, 1993 from Adult  Respiratory  Dis-
 tress  Syndrome (ARDS -- the same thing that resulted in all  the 
 Hantavirus deaths).  While ARDS has over a hundred known  differ-
 ent  causes,  and while Jessica spent a month in ICU  units,  the 
 better  part  of that time in Dallas Childrens  Medical  Center's 
 ECMO unit (the best center for ARDS treatment for children in the 
 United  States),  the best guess her lead physician had  for  the 
 cause of her death was "extreme bad luck."

 (2)  Courtney  died on December 26, 1993.  On the 21st she had  a 
 complete  check-up (we took her in for an ear ache) and was in per-
 fect health.  She came down with what seemed like a mild version of
 the flue on the 22nd of December.  On the 25th she still seemed to 
 have the flue so we took herin to a hospital because she seemed a 
 little listless. (We were a little overprotective of her)  She 
 was diagnosed as a new diabetic.  While in the intensive  care 
 unit, she had a seizure which herniated her brain stem. She was 
 pronounced brain-dead on December 26th at the UCLA PICU.

 (3)  I  have taken the liberty of drawing on the  experiences  of 
 the  Compassionate Friends support group in Wichita Falls and  of 
 many friends and clients in writing this article.  In addition, I 
 have  read  a substantial body of literature, most  of  it  badly 
 written, on the subject.

(For more information about a Compassionate
 Friends support group call 708-990-0010 or fax 708-990-0246).

 (4)  I must also note that I and my family would not have made it 
 but for the incredibly kind and careful help of the local commun-
 ity.   It is impossible to adequately express just how much of  a 
 difference  they  made  and the extent to which  so  many  people 
 helped.

 (5)  Some  methods  are socially acceptable, some are  not.   For 
 example, alcoholism as a response to stress is considered  normal 
 in  some  cultures and recognized as  self-destructive  in  ours.  
 Over eating is often a response to stress, as is excessive  anger 
 and hostility.  Improving and training stress responses is  often 
 a  part  of "lifestyle" enrichment and  professional  fulfillment 
 classes and is an important part of life.

 (6)  Cf Learning About Grief from Normal Families:  SIDS,  Still-
 birth,  and Miscarriage, Journal of Marital and  Family  Therapy, 
 1991,  Vol. 17, No. 3, 215.  Compassionate Friends also has  sub-
 stantial material on loss.
 
      For many families the second and third years are the  worst.  
 See  Sherry E. Johnson, After a Child Dies.  Counseling  Bereaved 
 Families (Springer Publishing Company, Inc.) at 138ff.

 (7)  Including clinical shock.  cf After a Child Dies.   Counsel-
 ing Bereaved Families at 75-77.

 (8)  While  we  had good insurance  coverage,  Jessica's  medical 
 bills exceeded $614,000.00.  Deductibles, co-payments,  uncovered 
 expenses  and  similar matters left us  with  substantial  debts.  
 That experience seems to be true of every parent I have met  that 
 has lost a child.  
 
      In  a self-employed situation, the expense is heightened  by 
 the  fact that when one works less, due to incapacity, one  earns 
 less.  The combination of increased expense, reduced income,  and 
 a  spouse sharing incapacity generally leads to increased  stress 
 past the initial event.

 (9)  Anger  can be appropriate, it is just dangerous and easy  to
 misuse.
 
      Cf  After a Child Dies.  Counseling Bereaved Parents at  77-
 78.

 (10)  Sometimes  there is nothing that can be done except to  run.  
 However, fleeing is usually an option of limited utility.

 (11)  Denial is one of the American culture's favorite methods  of 
 coping  with problems.  Denial is not all bad as it is true  that 
 many problems will go away if ignored.

 (12)  See Suzette Haden Elgin's Gentle Art of Verbal Self  Defense 
 series  for more on distracting as a mode of talking and  coping.  
 Along with blaming and placating, distracting is one of the three 
 most common modes of verbal violence.

 (13) According to Gerald Williams at the BYU law school, as  many 
 as  60% of all attorneys use this mode -- and  very  effectively.  
 Building a consensus and moving as a group is very seductive.  It 
 is why so many follow bad examples.

 (14) One could consider this herd action.

 (15) When someone jumps in and starts cleaning the house when the 
 bills are due and there is no money, they are a prime example  of 
 this  form of coping.  When in doubt, do something useful is  the 
 motto of someone who takes this approach.

 (16) This method works for animals in the wild.  About 10% of the 
 itme an animal is cornered by a predator, if it just gives up  in 
 despair, the hunter will move on.
 
      The  method does not work well when the house is being  for-
 closed  or  the automobile repossessed, but the  instinctive  re-
 sponse remains.  Many who lose children can retreat into a  state 
 of  inactive  despair for years -- a parent retreating  to  their 
 bedrooms  for ten or more years, and refusing to come out  except 
 to  eat -- such cases are well known and documented  in  clinical 
 literature.

 (17) It is often paired with suicidal impulses.

 (18) This  is  one of the things clinicians deal with.   After  a 
 Child  Dies.  Counseling Bereaved Parents. at 58.  See also  130-
 137 about the extreme pathologies caused by having  "replacement" 
 children.

 (19) For  more on recognizing and dealing with the same  feelings 
 and  urges  on the loss of a job, a move, or  similar  unresolved 
 griefs  in life see Good Grief, by Granger E. Westberg an  excel-
 lent, though simple work on grieving.
 
      It  has  gone through multiple editions and is a  slow,  but 
 best seller among those who have known grief.
 
      See also Letting Go With Love; The Grieving Process by Nancy 
 O'Conner (La Mariposa Press) which is endorsed by Kubler-Ross.

 (20) For  a rather long series of notes and analysis of  multiple 
 specific different types of loss and grief, see Parental Loss  of 
 a Child, Therese A. Rando (Editor) (Research Press Company)  from 
 121 to 290.

 (21) For  a book devoted to discussing many similar  things,  see 
 James Dobson's When God Doesn't Make Sense.
 
      See  also  The  Grief Recovery Handbook by  James  &  Cherry 
 (Harper  & Row) at pages 30 and 34 for a more clinician  oriented 
 set of lists.

 (22) Which describes about half the world.  The problem is that a 
 self-centered person feels bothered about someone else's pain and 
 grief and wants the grief to go away quickly and easily.  Such  a 
 person  will  say  and do things that actively  harm  a  grieving 
 family  merely for personal convenience or relief.  Christ  spoke 
 of  such, warning that it was impossible but that  offense  would 
 come...
 
      One  of the saddest things in the world is to see some  poor 
 grieving  mother being badgered by a church leader who expects  a 
 few platitudes to heal all of her pain immediately (and thus rest 
 the  church leader's mind as to any further duties or  care)  and 
 who  will not let the poor woman go until she admits that she  is 
 completely  healed  of all her pain -- and generally  this  abuse 
 occurs  within days of the death -- years before  any  meaningful 
 healing  can  occur.  
 
      Such  a leader only insures that the man or  woman  badgered 
 will avoid any call upon members of the church in the future  and 
 has  unconcionable pain and pressure forced upon her in the  here 
 and now.

 (23) For advice to clergy, see Rando's enclyclopedic edited work, 
 supra, at page 465ff.  See also James & Cherry's The Grief Recov-
 ery Handbook at 40ff.

 (24) Note  that  "Jesus wept" and he knew that  for  Lazarus  the 
 rising  from the dead was a matter of minutes, not  centuries  or 
 even days.

 (25) "Who sinned master, that this man was born blind?"

 (26) "A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."

 (27) My  wife recently received a call from a mother who  lost  a 
 child to heart failure.  The mother had asked Primary  Children's 
 Hospital  if she could have some information about their  support 
 group  and was told to call back in six months.  The majority  of 
 divorces,  suicides  and other disasterous events  begin  in  the 
 first six months.
 
      If any service or professional help organization treats  you 
 in  this fashion, contact Compassionate Friends -- a  group  that 
 has for members only those people who have been through what  you 
 have  been through and who will not tell you to "come back  after 
 you've gone through the worst of it by yourself."

 (28) For  an excellent collection of more trite phrases that  are 
 guaranteed  to harm and not help, see Grieving, The Pain and  the 
 Promise by Deanna Edwards.  Pages 147-148 are worth reading.

 (29) My thanks to Debbie Burroughs, who having lost a child,  was 
 good enough to remind us that healthy children need us as much as 
 sick  children  and that living survivors need care and  love  as 
 much  as the departed.  She helped us keep perspective  and  made 
 certain that our surviving daughter could do better than hope  or 
 logic offered.

 (30) As defined by the perfect observor, of course.
 
      Seriously,  the mind knows that "appropriate"  behavior  did 
 not  prevent the pain or the suffering and so in the  process  of 
 reorganizing  and seeking to deal with the pain, the  subconcious 
 puts a great deal of pressure on the mind to try  "inappropriate" 
 actions to see if they will help.
 
      The  greater  the  pain, the greater  the  pressure  to  re-
 evaluate and change and try alternative methods of coping.

 (31) Not to be confused with meddling.  
 
      However,  for example, if money is being donated  for  grave 
 markers,  it might be wise to set up an account at  the  memorial 
 company for the money to go to rather than just giving the  money 
 to a grieving parent.
 
      This  takes the worry and concern away from the  parent  (it 
 becomes  one  more thing that the parent need deal with  only  if 
 they want to deal with it) and also helps the parent overcome any 
 urge towards "inappropriate" actions.

 (32) No  one is served by letting a grieving parent make a  total 
 mess of something.

 (33) See also Nancy O'Connor's Letting Go With Love; The Grieving 
 Process at 182-185.  She and Dobson both provide useful lists.
 
      The Compansionate Friends has checklists and concise,  prac-
 tical  (vs. clinical or technical) materials and lists.   If  you 
 have an actual emergency, contact them first.

 (34) A  great deal of harm is done by people who  force  grieving 
 persons  to  cover their grief over and to bottle  it  up  inside 
 where it will fester and grow bitter or otherwise not heal  prop-
 erly.

 (35) See Rando's Parental Loss of a Child, supra at 54-56.

 (36) If you write about your thoughts and feelings, a journal can 
 make  a significant impact on reducing your  stress.   Controlled 
 studies have shown that "expressive" journals have a  substantial 
 impact  on  all  forms of stress.  "Diary"  journals  (where  the 
 writer merely records facts) seem to have no impact at all.

 (37) Studies have shown that regardless of how religious you are, 
 sincere prayer has a substantial healing effect.  From a  statis-
 tical viewpoint, it is your personal sincerity that matters,  not 
 the religious tradition you embrace.

 (38) Simply  walking  for fifteen minutes a day can  greatly  aid 
 your ability to cope with life.

 (39) Emotion needs to come out and be expressed -- but in  places 
 where  others will not be harmed or use the emotion to harm  you.  
 Often,  in  severe grief, a person does not need  consolation  so 
 much  as  they need to mourn instead.  Christ said  "blessed  are 
 they that mourn" not "blessed are they that avoid mourning..."

 (40) When  Paul foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem,  where  the 
 members  of  the Church would lose their families and  all  their 
 possessions, he wrote Hebrews.  In that New Testament book,  Paul 
 talks  a  great deal about sufferring and trying to  be  patient.  
 The one thing he warns against is bitterness.  It is a sour  gall 
 that gives no solice and provides no healing.
 

 (41) For what it is worth, for every book listed here that  does-
 n't seem "that good," I've read at least two that were worse.
 
      When  a  book  has a special place (such as  the  fact  that 
 Embraced by the Light is pretty useless in providing insight  for 
 grief  and  loss, but as a best seller is the book you  are  most 
 likely to see given), I have noted that fact.

 (42) Her  latest  book, You Can't Say That to Me  (John  Wiley  & 
 Sons, Inc.  1995), has just gone on sale and is extremely topical 
 for anyone who is in a verbally abusive situation.  Also extremely
 good (in my opinion) is her The Gentle Art of Communicating with 
 Kids (John Wiley & Sons 1996)

 (43) A book I liked better is When Good-Bye Is Forever:  Learning 
 to Live Again After the Loss of a Child, John Bramblett  (Ballan-
 tine/Inspirational,  New York 1991).  Unfortunately, it  was  not 
 picked up for wide library sales distribution.  Of the  countless 
 journal  type  books, I liked it the best and only wish  it  were 
 easier to find.  Like all things hard to find, I received it as a 
 gift from someone who did not remember where they found it.



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