Understanding Loss and Grief

Pat Mersy

Many Sundays I help facilitate our SaddleBrooke bereavement group and our members are often discussing how people react to them following their loved one’s death. Now, in a small way, I understand more of what they tell us about their experiences.

Recently our 15 year old cat Cleo died after a vicious, fast moving cancer. Cleo was a character and our house is very different now without her.

Grieving is very painful, even when it is just a cat. People I know have reacted in many ways when talking to me about Cleo’s death. Some people have said she was “just a cat,” others have said, “Oh well, you still have the dogs.” A few people have been very sad about our loss of Cleo, including cat lovers, some friends and my daughter who sent us a framed photo of her.

Some guidelines for people who encounter a grieving friend or relative are below:

* Don’t avoid a person who is grieving—instead pleasantly say to them, “I am very sorry for your loss. Let me know what I can do for you.”

* Don’t try to say things like “He or she is now in a better place.”

* Continue to invite them to gatherings such as you would have done if the loved one was still alive.

* Don’t assume they are all over the loss as time goes by. The famous one year marker is merely a milestone in a painful grieving process.

* They may say no if you ask them to join you at a movie or concert but don’t give up on trying to include them in your plans.

* Don’t criticize them for what you see as strange behavior—-yes, they are hurting and everyone handles their grief in a different way. There is no recipe on how to grieve.

For those of you who have suffered a loss recently, the SaddleBrooke Bereavement group is open for all people who have experienced a loss. It meets every Sunday in the Coyote Room at HOA 1 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.