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What Helped and Didn’t Help During Grieving Process

According USC’s Andrew Scharlach, participants in his ongoing study have generally agreed about gestures and experiences that were helpful to them, and what were not, in completing the grieving process.

Under the helpful category:

* Having talked with the parent before his or her death. One woman reported conducting a life review with her family on her mother’s death bed.

* Many appreciated being able to talk with others about their dead parents.

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* They reported that cards, notes and calls received were helpful in coming to terms with the finality of the event.

* Many said that talking with their pets was surprisingly useful. “One woman stated that her dog provided her with much support during the first few months: “I could talk with him for hours, and he didn’t mind, he never cut me off.”

* One person said she felt good about having taken care of her parents (both suffered from senile dementia) in her home, granting her mother’s wish to not be placed in a nursing home or separated from her husband.

By contrast, what wasn’t helpful:

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* The major complaint dealt with friends and relatives who weren’t supportive. One person said it was difficult when her friends tried to change the subject whenever she started talking about her parents or their deaths.

* If the last contact with the parent was conflictual, some people felt guilt. One person had a small argument with her father on the phone the night before he died, and five years later still regrets it.

* Several participants objected to having heard “now it is your job to be the strong one"--when all that individual wanted to do was cry and be taken care of.


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