Director's Message: The journey from loss to healing

Feb. 11, 2010
A review of Rebecca Claunch's writings for RDH eVillage and other thoughts on grieving for those who have left us.

"Grief will take as long as it takes," wrote Rusty Berkus in To Heal Again: Towards Serenity and the Resolution of Grief. "There is no right way to grieve — there is just your way."

There is one hard and fast rule when it comes to coping with the death of someone you know: there are no rules.

I recently received a very sad phone call from Rebecca Claunch's sister about Rebecca's untimely passing. Rebecca and I became acquainted because of her desire to write articles for the dental hygiene profession. We began exchanging e-mails and ideas on how her messages could be shared with a bigger audience.

Rebecca began writing for RDH eVillage last fall, and below are links to some of her articles. She and I shared a brief yet extraordinary synergy because she was filled with passion and had a sagacious way of viewing dental hygiene. Her polished and concise style captured the reader (her articles consistently received rave reviews and comments), and her articles were pure, understandable, and pertinent. Rebecca was beginning a new journey in her already fulfilled life, and it was with a heavy heart that I learned of her untimely passing.

Rebecca will be missed by those who knew her and those who read her written word. Her thoughts and passions cannot be extinguished. She gave her sprit and energy to the profession of dental hygiene. We can honor her memory by reading and embracing all she gave to us. My life has been enhanced because our paths crossed.

Every death is different and every relationship is different, so the way each of us experiences loss and grief is different. Grief is a journey, and when someone dies, those of us who mourn will take that journey in a unique way. It's a journey through some of the most emotionally intense and painful passages of life, and sometimes it will seem as if nothing and no one can help. However, there are some common guidelines that can serve as an anchor to anyone who is suffering through loss.

• Do not expect too much of yourself, at least for a while.

• Be gentle with yourself and let go of ideas of the "right" thing to do or the "right" way to behave.

• Seek support. Ask friends to help you with practical details, as well as just by sitting and listening.

• Don't be afraid to talk about your loss and about the person who died. This is an important part of the grieving process. When it comes to death, silence is not always golden. If a friend is uncomfortable with your stories, find friends who can be there.

• Don't be afraid to seek help if your pain or depression becomes more than you can bear. Sometimes our friends can't give us the help and support we need.

• Remember that a person dies, but a relationship doesn't. Although the person you love is gone, he or she lives on in you.

My earnest request is that you take control of your health and become a "health learner." As Ellen Langer, author of Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility wrote, "While death may be inevitable and life after death unknowable, we certainly can influence life before death."

Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage

Articles by Rebecca Claunch

Reach your full potential: It is a process

Queen Bees, micromanagers, and bullies: Demons in the workplace

Fair and Balanced Wages for the "Thriving" Professional

Dental Hygiene, a Career of Challenges

Dentistry and the Wheelchair-Bound Patient