Grieving people have two choices - They can avoid the pain and all the other emotions associated with their loss and continue on, hoping to forget. This is a risky choice, since experience shows that grief, when ignored, continues to cause pain. The other choice is to recognise grieving and seek healing and growth. In order for growth to be possible, it is essential to allow oneself to feel all the emotions that arise, as painful as they may be, and to treat oneself with patience and kindness.
Feel the pain - Give into it - even give it precedence over other emotions and activities, because grief is a pain that will get in the way later if it is ignored. Realise that grief has no timetable; it is cyclical, so expect the emotions to come and go for weeks, months or even years. While a show of strength is admirable, it does not serve the need to express sadness, even when it comes out at unexpected times and places.
Talk about your sorrow - Take the time to seek comfort from friends who will listen. Let them know you need to talk about your loss. People will understand, although they may not know how to respond. If they change the subject, explain that you need to share your memories and express your sorrow.
Forgive yourself - Forgive yourself for all the things you believe you should have said or done. Also forgive yourself for the anger and guilt and embarrassment you may have felt while grieving.
Eat well and exercise - Grief is exhausting. To sustain your energy, be sure to maintain a balanced diet. Exercise is also important in sustaining energy. Find a routine that suits you - perhaps walks or bike rides with friends, or in solitude. Clear your mind and refresh your body.
Indulge yourself - Take naps, read a good book, listen to your favourite music, get a manicure, see a movie. Do something frivolous, distracting and that you personally find comforting.
Prepare for holidays and anniversaries - Many people feel especially “blue” during these periods, and the anniversary date of the death can be especially painful. Even if you think you’ve progressed, these dates may bring back some of your painful emotions. Make arrangements to be with friends and family members with whom you are comfortable. Plan an activity that will mark the anniversary.
Get help - Bereavement groups can help you recognise your feelings and put them in perspective. They can also help alleviate the feeling that you are alone. The experience of sharing with others who are in a similar situation can he comforting and reassuring. Sometimes, new friendships grow through
these groups - even a whole new social network that you did not have before. There are specialised groups for widowed persons, for parents who have lost a child, for victims of drunken drivers, etc. There are also groups that do not specialise. Check with your local hospice or other bereavement support groups for more information.
Take active steps to create a new life for yourself - Give yourself as much time to grieve as you need. Once you find new energy, begin to look for interesting things to do. Take courses, donate time to a cause you support, meet new people, or even find a new job. It is often tempting to try to replace the person who has been lost. Whether through adoption, remarriage, or other means; this form of reconciliation often does not work. Many people discover that there is hope after death. Death takes away, but grief can give back. It is possible to recover from grief with new strengths and a new direction. By acting on our grief, we may eventually find peace and purpose.
Helping those in grief - You may know someone who has experienced a loss. Many of us feel awkward when someone dies, and don’t know what to do or say. The suggestions below are designed to help you help friends, family and co-workers who are grieving.
Reach out to the grieving person - Show your interest and share your caring feelings. Saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing at all. At the same time, avoid clichés like “It was God’s will,” or “God never gives us more than we can bear”, or “At least she isn’t suffering.” Do not say you know how it feels. Do say you are sorry and that you are available to listen. Be prepared for emotional feelings yourself. A death generates questions and fears about our own mortality.
Listen - Your greatest gift to a grieving person can be your willingness to listen. Ask about the deceased. Allowing the person to talk freely without fear of disapproval can help create healthy memories. It is an important part of healing. While you can’t resolve the grief, listening can help.
Ask how you can help - Taking over a simple task at home or at work is not only helpful, it also offers reassurance that you care. Be specific in your offer to do something and then follow up with action.
Remember anniversaries - These can be a very difficult time for those who are in grief. Do not allow the person to be isolated. Remember to share your home, yourself, or anything that may be of comfort.
Suggest activities that you can do together - Walking, biking or other exercise can be an opportunity to talk and is a good source of energy for a tired body and mind.
Help the grieving person find new activities and friends Include grieving persons in your life. Grieving people may require some encouragement to get back into social situations. Be persistent, but try not to press them to participate before they are ready.
Therapy - For further help please see www.jilljesson.com
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