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GENESIS Bereavement Resources offers support and encouragement to bereaved people. Our carefully prepared books, brochures and DVDs address some of the issues around grief and bereavement as well as encouraging bereaved people in creating a new life.

About John Kennedy Saynor

Roadblocks on the Path through Grief

by John Kennedy Saynor

You have undoubtedly taken a trip that seems to have no end of hindrances to you getting to your destination. This is especially true in large urban areas, but obstacles to travel occur in rural areas where we often encounter slow moving farm vehicles, or large wild animals running out on the road and interrupting our travel. There are, of course days when things run smoothly and we get to where we want to go in good time feeling like we had a good trip.

The path through grief is similar to any journey we take. There are things that help make it smoother and things that make the road a lot more bumpy. I want to consider some of the influences on our lives that can either help us or hinder us on our path through grief.

Your family

When I listen to the stories of people who are grieving and hear about how their family contributes to a difficult journey through grief, I am amazed at the courage they show in pursuing the relationships. The fact is, if you have had difficulty with family relationships before a death occurs, it is very rare that things improve after the death.

Many people expect that after a death occurs, the family will be the first there to help and support them. This is not always the case and there are many reasons for that. One of them is that other family members may also be grieving the loss and don’t have the energy to offer support to each other. The other factor that may affect how much support family members give each other is the negative effect the Will of the deceased may have.

Your friends

Friends are another source of support that often disappoint those who are grieving. As is the case with family members, the reason may be that friends are also grieving the loss of the one who died and may not have anything to offer the bereaved. Those whom you once thought were close friends may soon become a thing of the past. And that is hard.

Your Culture: Different cultures respond to a death in different ways and we are all affected by the culture into which we are born. Religious traditions, the manner of dress, the attitude towards life and moving on with life play a big role in how people grieve. How do you respond to the death of your loved one? How do you think people expect you to act? Do you want to act the way others want, or do you have a different idea of how you should be carrying on with life? Expectations of others can actually be a hindrance to how you move through your grief.

Your philosophy of life

That is a fancy way of talking about your belief system! What helps you to make sense out of life? Do you have a strong faith? Do you have a very non-traditional belief system? Are you a humanist? Often times our belief system is not a help. If, for instance you believe in a God who is somehow involved in your daily life and either influences or orders the way things are to be, then your belief in this God may be challenged. This will present you with the opportunity to ask some serious, sometimes scary questions that have the potential of affecting how you look at your life in the future.

Your basic attitude towards life

By this I mean are you basically a positive or a negative person. Recently, in the introductions at a support group that I facilitated, an 82 year-old woman said, “I’ve come here for help. I know I will make it. I have no choice.” That told me she would make it and that her journey through her grief would be successful. And it has been.

If you have a negative attitude towards life, if nothing ever goes right and you don’t expect things to get better, then they won’t. Of course, if you are willing to change your outlook, things will get better.

In the next article, I will look at how the influences that I have discussed above, can also help you make a successful journey through grief.