TIP OF THE MONTH
“Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away” (Smith, 2014).
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold (Miller, 2001).
Here are some helpful tips to guide you in dealing with your grief:
- “Talk about your loss with friends, family or a professional. Grief is a process, not an event.
- Grief is work, requiring time and energy. The memories, meanings and fulfilled needs provided by the lost loved one take time to work through.
- Let yourself enter the emotions of grief. Grievers tend naturally to avoid the painful emotions. Losing someone close to you means you deserve to allow yourself to feel all your emotions - sadness, anger, intense longing, guilt and others.
- Resume your life but leave time and space for grieving. Life marches on for the living. But try to resist the temptation to “throw yourself” into work or other diversions.
- Take care of yourself. You have been wounded. Something very valuable and dear has been taken away from you. Give yourself time and space to begin healing. Get enough rest. Eat nourishing food. Give yourself a break.
- Resist the temptation to use alcohol or drugs to numb your pain. These can interfere with the grieving process by delaying it or covering it up.
- If you have any religious inclination, consider contacting your place of worship. All religions recognize that grievers need special help. Consider taking advantage of these services even if you have not been attending regularly. You will not be turned away.
- Don’t neglect your own health. Grieving puts a heavy burden of stress on your body. It can disturb sleep patterns, lead to depression, weaken your immune system, and worsen medical problems that had been stable.
- Get help for severe or persistent depression. Someone once said: “grief is not a disease but it can become one.” Grief can lead to serious depression. Consider getting professional help if you feel overwhelmed, hopeless, or helpless. Other signs of depression can include sleep impairment (too little or too much), appetite or weight change, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and feeling listless or agitated.
- Be patient. The grieving process often includes setbacks. Don’t expect to set an “I’ll be over it” deadline and succeed. Often, grieving resumes after a time, sometimes even months or years. Reminders can trigger a flood of emotions. Don’t be surprised if this happens, and don't consider it a sign of weakness. Instead, your psyche is telling you more grief work needs to be done.
- Create your own memorial service. Celebrate their lifetime accomplishments, values, and principles. Consider carrying the torch of a cause they believed in as a memorial. Start a scholarship, plant a garden, or make a donation in their name.” (Smith, 2014)
The grieving process has run its course when you feel weary of rehashing events and memories and finally accept the fact the your loved one can remain with you only in spirit. For some, the process never really ends; it just gets easier over time. You will know you are ready to move forward when you feel you can reinvest the energy once invested in your loved one in a new place (Miller, 2001).
- Miller, Mark D., M.D. "Good Help." Good Grief Center. Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support, Sept. 2001. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.
- Smith, Melinda, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. "Coping with Grief and Loss." : Understanding the Grieving Process. Helpguide.org, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.
~ Brianna Miller ‘16
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