“HeartSpun Talk from the Crucible of Experience”©

From the life of Ken Matthies - Author, Poet, Real Life Storyteller

In today’s world of rapid change on all fronts the integrity of family units has not been exempt from the effects of those changes. This has resulted in ever greater numbers of broken relationships, divorces and separations – and thereby new children, partners and spouses being added to the mixed equations of their family lives.

This has also therefore resulted in a growing number of mixed-status families who have to learn to deal with their loss, grief and bereavement in whole new ways as they struggle to cope with their individual grieving within those changes to their life structures.

Often this mixed-status is the cause of great differences in emotional impact from a death within such fragmented families, resulting in additional feelings of hurt to add to the crushing load of grief affecting those members more closely related to or aligned with the one who has died.

It’s not uncommon for resentments to build up under these kinds of conditions, and left unchecked or unattended to these can lead to estrangements and another family breakup, a negative perpetuation of the cycles of change, and the experience of even greater loss than has already been suffered.

I too have a mixed-status family and have been directly affected by these kinds of changes, with children from three different mothers as well as adoptions made from within two additional families. I have seen firsthand the varying effects which grief has had within this fragmented structure – and know the enormous difficulties I had in overcoming those differences as I perceived them to be in the midst of my own grief when I lost one of those children.

What can be done to prevent further loss from occurring in these mixed-status families dealing with their grief? What can be done to aid and encourage their healing from grief under these circumstances?

The first crucial truth of grieving in this kind of mixed-status family is the need for your acceptance of the point of view that each individual family member is affected differently by a death from within, and must be given the right to grieve and heal according to those individual dictates.

I had a hard time understanding that at first because I just naturally assumed they were all as severely affected as I was. I had to learn that it was wrong of me to make such an assumption.

The second most crucial truth is the need to ask forgiveness for making such faulty assumptions if you made them, and not to forget to forgive yourself too as part of that process. Tell each family member that you understand and accept that their experience of the death and grieving is different from your own, but that you stand ready to share their experience of it with them if they need or want you to do so.

The third most crucial truth is to foster and support these newly understood realities by creating lines of communication between all affected family members, making room in your own grieving heart to care about and talk about the grief which lives in theirs.

Whether your own situation is that of a mixed-status family or not the fact remains that each person affected by loss, grief and bereavement will still have to take their own personal journey through the cycles of grief which will lead to their individual healing from it, to whatever degree is needed by them.

Consciously choosing to avoid the strife and resentments so easily caused by death within a mixed-status family, and allowing yourself to come to an understanding and acceptance of the need for this journey of individual grieving for your family members will make an enormous difference to the progress of your own healing – and to theirs.

Author's Bio: 

For almost forty years of his life Ken Matthies has been a writer and chronicler of life expressed in poetic form, following the family tradition laid down by his grandfather before him.

Faced with the dramatically life altering experience of his helicopter pilot daughter’s sudden death in 2002 he has grown to also become a literary author of true events based on his own life. Though grief opened his literary doors it is the Light of Love and Memories supplying the fuel of inspiration to write through them.

As a second-chance dad given the opportunity to verbally share his life stories with his newly rediscovered daughter it was she who told him that she believed him to be a ‘worthy man’ after having heard them, and who encouraged him that they should be shared in written form beyond her own life – not yet knowing as she said it that she was soon to leave him behind. As a bereaved father and writer learning how to live life again in the Light of his own Love and Memories of his daughter, he writes those stories now as a testament to her belief and faith in their value.

His full length book entitled "How to Survive the Death of a Child - A Father's Story of Healing Light" was the first of these stories which he wrote in the Light of those Love and Memories.

He lives in the solitude and grandeur of a tiny southern Yukon village with his Tlingit native wife Skoehoeteen and the successor to their venerable old Tahltan bear dog Clancy Underfoot, who now happily awaits them at the Rainbow Bridge in Doggy Heaven. She’s a new female puppy named Hlinukts Seew which means ‘Sweet Rain’ in the Tlingit language, a wonderful phonetic variation in memory of Clancy’s name who was also called C.U. for short. It’s a good place to tell those stories from.

You can read more of Ken's writings and find his Amazon Kindle book at www.kenmatthies.com.