Tuesday, July 19, 2011


   Many people experience dreams after the loss of a loved one.  Sometimes these dreams are disturbing in nature.  If the loss was traumatic or visually disturbing, dreams may bring those images and sensations experienced at the time of the trauma back with startling reality.  Other dreams can be comforting, confusing or cause us to wake with a sense of sadness and longing for our loved one.
JOY, like a spring in the desert
   Over this past weekend I had the joyful experience of returning to LeMars, Iowa for a college class reunion.  I use the word "joy" quite intentionally because, while it was a delightful to visit with old friends, there was a sadness associated with this event as well.  I have always felt that joy transcends mere happiness and sustains us, like a spring in the desert, through the sorrow-filled, wilderness seasons of our lives.  Returning to LeMars and to the campus of what once was Westmar College is sad, for Westmar closed a few years after I graduated.  The community has done a lovely job making use of many of the buildings, but many are gone and more are slated for demolition in the near future.  Driving home Sunday afternoon, I felt my senses and memory somewhat overloaded.  In the course of just two days I had walked paths I once walked to go to class and meals.  I had visited at length with former professors.  I had told and listened to countless stories and memories, both sweet and sad.  In my mind I went back to the time when I got a phone call on the pay phone in the dorm telling me my parents were likely going to divorce.  I recalled the football game when all the players had put stars on their helmets in honor of a fellow-player who was battling cancer, which subsequently took his life.  And I traced again the drive through a city park where a dear friend was hit and killed by a motorcycle.   His name was Bill.
   I know Bill cared for me.  He may have even loved me.  I cared for him.  But I was young and not nearly as serious as he seemed to be about our relationship.  He went to the park that night to attend a party-one that had become controversial on our small, church-related campus.  My remembrance is that Bill went to be a witness - in deed, not words - that one could attend a party, hang with friends, have a great time and choose not to drink.  It seemed a cruel injustice when walking home from the party he was hit by a motorcycle and suffered injuries that claimed his life.
   With all those memories stirred up, it is not surprising to me that I have been dreaming that last few nights.  While the dreams do leave me with a sad feeling when I awake, I try always to receive my dreams as gifts.  For example, I dreamed I took a walk with Bill.  I don't remember what we talked about.  But I remember the feelings of warmth and companionship we shared.  And, I know my husband was waiting for me at the end of our walk.  So, it is like I had a visit from Bill, a chance to catch up with him, much like I caught up with my other college friends over the weekend.  And I am grateful for this dream.
   If you are dreaming dreams about your loved one, try to accept them as a gift.  Ask yourself, what part of the dream stands out most in my mind?  What was I feeling in the dream?  Was I sad or scared?  Or did those feelings come upon waking?  Is there something I can learn from this dream?  Is there a memory here for me to recall and cherish?  Is there wisdom in my dreaming, something God or my loved one would like me to learn or know? 
   You may wish to keep a notebook or journal beside your bed where you can journal your dreams.  This can be helpful as many dreams slip away quickly upon waking.  It will also give you an opportunity to see if there is a common theme that recurs in your dreams.  A common theme in my dreams is going into or moving through various parts of a house.  In Jungian Psychology and dream symbolism a house may represent the inner self or the soul.  Paying attention to what rooms or levels of the house I am in can bring me new insights about soul work I am doing or, more likely, need to be attending too.
   If you are suffering from nightmares, night terrors or having flashbacks, you have likely experienced a traumatic loss.  Don't try to get through this alone.  You need the help and support of a professional trained in trauma intervention.  Your dreams are trying to help you by bringing these disturbing memories up where they can be faced and dealt with.  No one wants to have to face them, but this is the truest path to healing.  If you need assistance in locating a professional with the training and expertise to help you with your traumatic loss, please contact me or contact The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children at www.starrtraining.org/tlc.    This organization maintains a database of trained and certified professionals in many fields who work with both traumatized children and adults.
   Until next time, I wish you blessings and meaningful dreams.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Grief and The Workplace

Dear Friends,

I have a growing concern about how grieving and mourning people are treated in the workplace. Our society becomes more and more dismissive of the role of ritual in grief (note the latest trend of “drive-through” funeral visitations on the east and west coasts) and more confused about the importance of mourning well our losses so we can move forward to live well.  These attitudes are naturally reflected in the workplace. 

I would very much like to hear your experiences related to this subject.  I may write an article for our Hope Newsletter based on your responses.  However, I will word things in such a way that no single individual's confidentiality is jeopardized.  I would be very appreciative of your responses.  Please email them to me at the address below or send them by snail mail, whichever suits you best.

The kinds of things I am most curious about are—
What type of  loss did you experience? 
Did you feel supported in your workplace following your loss?  For how long?
How did co-workers and employers respond to your loss– both positive and negative examples, please.
What helped you the most?
What hurt you the most?
What do you wish you could have said to the people you work with?
Did your co-workers seem to understand the depth of your grief and how long it would take for you to find healing?

Perhaps you are a helping professional and someone others look to for support.  How did this impact your ability to freely mourn your loss?

What else would you like to share? 

I don’t know exactly what this newsletter feature will look like.  Much will depend upon the responses I get.  I can imagine that some specific responses may be shared, but again I assure you the source of those responses will be kept confidential.  Your identity will be protected.  

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.  I am confident I can put something together that will prove helpful to businesses and employers.


Robyn J. Plocher


509 4th Street
Grundy Center, IA   50638