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Wren Wrants A-Z ...

A Letter To My Daughter

A PumkinHead in the White House

A Real Bad Day For Witchcraft

A Real Reason To Vote

A Time for War, a Time for Peace and a Time to Browse the Bookstore

A Wonderful Piece of News

The Aftermath of Columbine High School

Beating A Not-So-Hasty Retreat

Behind Enemy Lines

Breakfast Will Be Served In Fifteen Minutes...

Building a Circle of Trust

But What Will People Think?

By Their Furniture, Ye Shall Know Them

Caution: Restricted Area

Cleaning Out The Junk Drawer

Community Power Who Holds it?

Community Thoughts on Tempest Smith

Compelling without the Yelling

Confessions of a News Junkie

The Consistancy of Change...


Coping with Grief

Cramming It Down Our Throats...

Damned if you do and Damned if you don't

Declaring Your Personal Independence Day

Did Your World Change Too?

Dreaming in The Dark...

There is No Zuul

There's a Rabbit In The Moon...

Excavating the Dinosaur Altar

Fair Use, Copyright and the Pagan Net

Feeding Our Young

The First Day

Gather 'Round The Fire

Getting Back To Nature

Getting Back To Normal

Getting Rid of What Bugs You

Gifts That Keep On Giving...

The Giving Circle

Gods In A China Shop...

Good And Evil: In The Shadow Of Littleton And The Garden Of The Gods.

Good Will Toward Men

The Great Hamster Myth

Happy Beltaine!

Happy Brigid's Day Everyone!

The Heart of A Mechanic

Helping Hands

Helping Our Own

Hidden Hatred Haunts Pagans

Home is Where the Spirit Is

Homosexuality and Public Policy

The Household of Priests and Priestesses

If The Hissy Fits

In A Mirror Darkly...

In Your Dreams

The Internet Reaches beyond Washington

It All Happens Locally

It Is Your Destiny

It's Maypole Week 'Round the World

It's Tribal Time!

January Arrives Wearing A White Coat

Judging Amy -- Wren's Thoughts

Killed a Goat Today

Knot Charming

Learning How To Fly

Life With Mikey

Listening To The Story

Listening To The Woods

Living In A Banana Republic

Living Through A Drought

Logging On and Speaking Out!

The Long and Short Of It

The Love of Ordinary Things

Mabon... a Man for all Seasons

Magick's Arrow

Mamas, Don't let your Babies...

The Media Story Is Often Not The True One

Mercury Has Left the Building

Minding Your News P's and Q's

Mixed Blessings

NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

Coping with Grief

Author: Wren
Posted: November 19th. 1998
Times Viewed: 17,038

Greetings Friends,

The death of Matthew Shepard had a great impact on many, many people: People from all walks of life, people from very different religious backgrounds and beliefs, people whose lifestyles, sexual preferences or political leanings were all over the sociological spectrum expressed outrage, grief, disbelief and a sense of deep shock that such a young life could be cut short in so brutal and callous a fashion.

I received many letters about Matthew, his life and his death, this past week. A few stopped by to share their personal struggles with the emotional ravages that they had experienced while trying to make sense of the situation. Some others wanted to share with us their own very personal and painful stories of loved ones who are facing a terminal disease or to talk about the recent ( and sometimes not too recent, but still fresh in their heart) loss of a loved one or friend.

It seems that Matthew's death has unleashed a flood of expression on perhaps the one last taboo subject left in this society: The fact that we are all going to die.

We are all going to pass on and leave someone behind who will miss us just as we have all lost someone close to us through a death experience that we still miss.

Yet, even though we all will share this experience, here in this country we often force people to keep their grief behind closed doors and within a small circle of family and friends. Death and grief make people uncomfortable and we are taught that it is not a nice thing to do to make people feel uncomfortable.

Matthew's death, just as the death of Princess Diana last year, has thrown open that door on grief and sorrow. Despite the discomfort that we have felt about these passings, perhaps it is healthy that we can talk about death a bit more openly. Perhaps we really need to. Perhaps that is why I am writing this.

My dad, who I loved dearly and miss daily, died seven years ago. I remember the day that he told me that he had terminal cancer; that what we thought was arthritis from a life of hard work was really the cancer cells that were eating away his bones; that he would be dead within a year.

But more than that, I remember each other day of that last year.

We were lucky.

We talked about death and what may happen to the spirit thereafter. We talked about his fear and his anger and his regrets for all the things that he had done and all the things that he still wanted to do and would never accomplish. We talked about how things that may seem so important to us day to day become as forgotten prize ribbons-things once coveted and now gathering dust in a box in the back of an attic-and how priorities are shaped by time and age and death.

We were lucky.

And we talked about how lucky that we were: lucky to have the time to talk, lucky to be able to be honest with each other, lucky to have known and loved and respected each other, lucky to be able to share this one last adventure into the unknown together.

So in many ways, I am writing this for my dad and for Matthew, and for you and for me. My dad and I were lucky, but the world is filled with people who are grieving alone or unable to talk about their feelings openly with others. This is for them, too.


We need to know that grief is a normal and natural response to loss, it is part of the human experience. The only way to avoid grief is not to live and not to love.

The loss of a loved one throws us into chaos and whether we manage to get through that day or the next week or even the years after-one thing remains: Our lives have been changed forever. That is one of the most important things to realize from the beginning to be able to cope with grief.

You will never be the same again and that is all right. Your world has changed. It will be different from now on. You will heal, but you will never be exactly the same. Accept this and move on.

The first days and weeks are filled with activity and preparations. You may feel like you are watching yourself go through the motion through someone else's eyes. You may feel detached and numb and begin to wonder into what nether region all your emotions have fled. This is a stage of denial and disbelief. It, too, is normal.

In between these times of not knowing where the real "you" went, you may cry and feel depressed and lose sleep or sleep too much. Or you may force yourself to be the strong one for the rest of the family. You may become angry over little things. Sometime you may think that if you start crying, you will never stop. That's okay, too. Absolutely Normal.

But more importantly, realize that we all grieve in our own way. Don't be thrown if you-or someone you know-wonders why you are or are not reacting in a certain way. Whatever way in which you grieve is normal for you. However long you need to grieve is normal for you. Your spirit knows what is necessary for your body and your emotions to begin to heal.

But that doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Since we all have or will face this same experience of loss, we can help each other.


Most people really need to talk about their grief experience. They may tell the story of those 'last days" over and over again. One of the most loving things that a friend can do is let them talk and just listen. Most people do not want advice on how to "buck up"; they just want their grief to be heard and acknowledged.

Perhaps that is the real explanation of why we all talked so much about Matthew's death even though most of us never knew him. We simply NEEDED to talk about it.

Most often the reason why-after the first flurry of condolences and cards-that people seem to drift away, is that they don't know what to say. But it may help them to realize that they don't have to say anything except, "I care about you and I am here because I care."

That is what we need to hear and Goddess bless the friend that dares to be silent in the face of the sanctity of our grief. That is the friend that you will treasure forever.

Time by itself does not heal all wounds. There is a person missing from your life that cannot be replaced. Your life has changed forever. But what you DO with the time that you have will help you on the road to healing.


The times of holidays and birthdays and family celebrations always bring back the realization that someone is missing. Often we try to push this feeling of loss aside. Perhaps the more healthy thing to do-especially since we are Pagans and believe in the continuance of the spirit-is to always INCLUDE the dead family member in the celebrations. Bring out their picture, set them a plate, raise a toast in their honor. Tell the family stories. Buy that birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day card instead of avoiding that aisle in the store on those days. (I cried quite publicly the first year that I did this, but the thought of NOT buying the card made me hurt even more.)

Memories of love last forever. My dad said that as long as you remember a person, they are never really dead.

Here's to you, Dad! I love you.

October 25th., 1998
The Witches' Voice
Clearwater, Florida

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Article ID: 2230

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Section: wrenwalker

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 7,734

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