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Loss and Grief
Q of the Day
Think of a time when someone or something close to you was taken away. How did you feel? How did you cope with those feelings?
What is Grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s emotional suffering when you feel something or someone you love is taken away
What causes grief?
What is Grief?
. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one and this time of loss does often cause the most intense grief. But any loss can cause grief, including: Death A relationship breakup Loss of health Losing a job Loss of financial security A miscarriage Death of a pet Loss of a cherished dream A loved ones serious illness Loss of a friendship Loss of safety after trauma Losing a campaign (class election) Not making a team Graduating Moving Changing Jobs Retiring Selling your family home
Emotions of Loss and Grief
Shock and disbelief- Right after a loss it can be hard to accept what happens. Feeling numb Deny the truth Expect them to show up when you know they’re gone
Sadness- Profound sadness. May have feelings of: Emptiness Despair Yearning Deep loneliness Crying Emotionally unstable
Guilt- May regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. Anger
Feel angry and resentful Angry at God, doctors, or even the one who died for abandoning you Feel the need to blame someone
Fear- Significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. Feel anxious, helpless, insecure Panic attacks Trigger fears about mortality, life without that person or responsibilities you now face alone
5 Stages of Grief
Denial- “Well I haven’t really been grieving.”Anger- “Why is this happening? Life is so
unfair!”Bargaining- “I’d do anything to change
things. Please just name it and I’ll do it!”Depression- “Nothing matters anyway.”Acceptance- “I think she would want me to
move on. So that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
We all grieve in our own way.
On a piece of paper, write down some loss you may encounter in your lifetime.
Healthy Ways to Cope With Loss
Turn to friends and family members – Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Draw loved ones close, rather than avoiding them, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with funeral arrangements.
Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you – such as praying, meditating, or going to church – can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community.
Join a support group – Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers.
Talk to a therapist or grief counselor – If your grief feels like too much to bear, call a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.
Healthy Ways to Cope with Loss
Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to him or her.
Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
Plan ahead for grief “triggers”. Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the person you loved.
Personal Grieving Plan
Take out a paper and write up your own personal grieving plan. This plan should include at least 3 different HEALTHY ways to cope with loss and grief that you feel will help you, personally, if ever faced with loss. This plan will hopefully give you an idea of where to turn when faced with loss.
How to help a friend who is grieving…
Listen with your heart Be an active listener. You may have to listen to the same story over and over again.
Just listen, repetition is a part of the grieving process.
Be compassionate Never say “I know how you feel”. Don’t try to take your friend’s feelings away. Think
of yourself as a helper not as the solution to their problems.
Avoid clichés Things like “Time will heal all wounds” “Think of all you have to be thankful for”
These can make your friend feel like you feel like they shouldn’t be grieving and that they need to move on immediately.
Understand the uniqueness of grief No one responds to loss in the same. Be patient. It may take your friend a longer or
shorter time than you would to go through the grieving process.
Offer practical help Preparing food, cleaning or answering the phone for your friend during the first few
days after the loss can help your friend feel less overwhelmed and stressed.
Make contact Remain available for your friend. A brief visit or phone call may mean more than you
think. Write a personal note What to write? Let your friend know that you are there for them and are thinking of
them. Share the qualities you admire in your friend or a favorite memory that may
make them smile. Be aware of holidays and anniversaries Your friend may need more help or special attention during these times because
these events may emphasize what they have lost.
Understand the importance of loss Loss is significant and can have a great impact on your friend (physically, mentally,
socially). Realize that loss is a big deal and has really affected their life.
Comments to Avoid when comforting someone
“I know how you feel.” One can never know how another may feel. You could instead ask how they feel.
“It’s part of God’s plan.” this can make people angry and they often respond with “what plan? Nobody told me about any plan.”
“Look at what you have to be thankful for.” They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now that is not important.
“He’s in a better place now.” The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
“this is behind you now; it’s time to get on with your life.” Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with life because they feel this means “forgetting” their loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and it works at its own pace.
Statements that begin with “you should” or “you will”. These are too direct…try saying “have you thought about…” or “you might…”
When to Seek Help for Grief
Complicated grief is grief that is intense, interferes with your daily life, and does not go away or lessen as time goes by. Left untreated, complicated grief and depression can lead to significant emotional damage, life-threatening health problems, and even suicide. But treatment can help you get better.
Contact a grief counselor or professional therapist if you:
Feel like life isn’t worth living Wish you had died with your loved one Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few
weeks Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss Are unable to perform your normal daily activities