Grief & Loss by Jane Arnoff Logsdon LSW, ACHP-SW
Let’s talk about grief and loss. And death. Not popular subjects and different from most of what I have seen on the blog so far. What I have seen is women who are embracing and sharing their talents and gifts. Working with grieving individuals is empowering, profound and allows me to use my gifts. I have also found that working as a grief support professional challenges me to look within myself and continually grow.
I am the School Liaison with Western Reserve Grief Services, which is part of Hospice of the Western Reserve, Inc. My job is coordinating and ensuring delivery of grief services in the school setting. We serve any staff or student at a Northern Ohio school who needs grief support due to a death in the school community. Current affiliation with Hospice of the Western Reserve is not a requirement.
We listen to painfully sad stories. We sit with students and staff as they cry and begin to mourn both sudden and anticipated deaths. We gently offer words of comfort or we just provide presence. We explore ways to remember and honor loved ones who have died. We guide students to create and remember and grieve through art or drama or music. We offer suggestions to help them cope and we encourage them to use their own innate resources, which they may not even realize exist.
The work breaks my heart sometimes, but it also expands it. I can hold pain and sadness that I take in, but then eventually let it flow through me like water. Otherwise I would not be able to do this job. And I am grateful to have the ability to connect with students and staff so that they feel accepted wherever they are in their grief journeys.
Despite the extremely difficult nature of grieving, I am inspired by this work. I give middle and high school students perhaps their first chance to explore and discuss death in an open and supportive environment. In our S.T.A.R.S. (Supporting Tears, Anger, Remembrance and Sadness) grief support groups, I have sat with students of all ages as they talk, create, cry, and sit with fellow grievers. It’s all profound, every moment.
Recently, I spent Children’s Grief Awareness Day (CGAD) at a local middle school. I worked with a group of friends at this school last year whose friend had a life limiting illness and died a few months later. This year for CGAD, I manned a table during lunch with activities students could do to honor loved ones who had died. I didn’t expect many students due to the nature of the subject but the table was flooded with kids! Student after student honored loved ones and pets (and even Stan Lee, the King of Marvel) with focus and feeling. And afterwards, I felt joyous and honored. To provide an opportunity for these young people to work through a few moments of grief, to bear witness without judgement to their experience is remarkable.
Grief, loss and death work. It’s often intense and challenging. Yet I have found it to empower me in ways I could never have imagined.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with grief:
Remember, there is no “magic wand” or solution. Sometimes you just have to let yourself cry and be sad. You may need to do this alone or want a supportive person with you. Listen to your heart.
If you are supporting a grieving loved one, presence is powerful. Sitting next to someone with few or no words for as long as needed is often the most supportive gesture we can offer.
If you are grieving, make sure to take care of yourself. Get extra sleep, eat well, do what you enjoy and let yourself be loved by those who care about you.
Jane Arnoff Logsdon, LSW, ACHP-SW is the School Liaison for Western Reserve Grief Services. You can find out more about Hospice of the Western Reserve’s School Program at: