(Last week’s article provided education on what grief is and how it affects us. Today will cover suggestions for working through grief, when it’s time to seek professional help and how to help others in their grief. I have utilized resources from the internet such as familydoctor.org, npr.org, University of Washington Counseling Center and HelpGuide.org. Our LOC library has a section of books on Grief and Loss you can check out.)
The saying “Time is a Healer” is true but going through the grieving process takes work to achieve a healthy outcome. Here are some things others have found useful in their healthy grieving. Choose the ones that fit for you:
- Attending church services, reading scripture, praying, meditating, or talking to a clergy member can offer great comfort and help you derive meaning from your loss.
- Give yourself time. Accept your feelings and know that grieving is a process.
- Expect and accept that you will be less productive with disrupted thinking
- Try to avoid taking on new responsibilities or making major life decisions for a time;
- Talk to others. Spend time with friends and family. Don’t isolate yourself.
- Accept help and support when offered. Tell those around you what helps you and what doesn’t. Most people would like to help if they knew how.
- Be particularly attentive to maintaining healthy eating and sleeping patterns. Exercise moderately and regularly. Take a yoga class. Take warm, leisurely baths. Get a massage.
- Keep a journal. Write down your lessons. Healthy grieving will have much to teach you.
- Read books and articles- If grief is understood it is easier to handle; Connect on the Internet. There are many resources for people in grief, as well as opportunities to chat with fellow grievers;
- Plan, and allow yourself to enjoy some good times and laughter without guilt. The goal is balance. Plan for special days such as holidays or anniversaries. Feelings can be particularly intense at these times. Return to your hobbies. Get back to the activities that bring you joy.
- Carry or wear a linking object—a keepsake that symbolically reminds you of your loss. Anticipate the time in the future when you no longer need to carry this reminder and gently let it go;
- Set aside a specific private time daily to remember and experience whatever feelings arise with the memories.
- See a counselor. Join a support group—people have a wonderful capacity to help each other
- Plant yourself in nature. Do something to help someone else;
Do I Need Professional Help?
In some cases, grief doesn’t get better. You may not be able to accept the loss. Doctors call this “complicated grief.” Less than 10% of people experience prolonged grief disorder. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble keeping up your normal routine, like going to work and cleaning the house; feelings of depression; thoughts that life isn’t worth living, or of harming yourself; any inability to stop blaming yourself.
When you’re in deep, emotional pain, it can be tempting to try to numb your feelings with drugs, alcohol, food, or even work. But be careful. These are temporary escapes that won’t make you heal faster or feel better in the long run. In fact, they can lead to addiction, depression, anxiety, or even an emotional breakdown.
A therapist can help you explore your emotions. They can also teach you coping skills and help you manage your grief. If you’re depressed, a doctor may be able to prescribe medicines to help you feel better.
On how to support grieving people in your life:
When you care for someone who is going through this terrible process of loss, it really is more about listening to them and seeing where they're at in their learning than it is about trying to make them feel better. The point is not to cheer them up. The point is to be with them and let them know that you will be with them and that you can imagine a future for them where they're not constantly being knocked over by the waves of grief.
Pray for them and call on support from the Prayer Chain with their permission.