Grief – Navigating Through It

At one time or another most of us will experience some form of grief. Such as the loss of a loved one, a separation or divorce, a miscarriage, or even the loss of an important job. Grief is a natural reaction and can be a painful process, but the pain does eventually subside.

Grieving people share certain feelings that include:
• Shock and a feeling of denial, perhaps accompanied by emotional numbness;
• Anger, first because life isn’t fair, anger at yourself for not preventing the loss and, anger at others; or
• Guilt for something you did or didn’t do even though many things are beyond our control.

For most mourners, these reactions are temporary. For some however, grief can worsen over time, and they can become depressed. They may feel emotionally drained and unable to perform even routine tasks.

Lonely and Afraid

Many people in mourning have difficulty with the added responsibilities and changes in their lives that can make them feel lonely and afraid.

It is estimated that nearly 10 percent of all people who experience a major loss in life actually become depressed. (Bonanno, 2004; Paykel & Cooper, 1992) Only recently have people undergoing a loss of a loved one received a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder during the first two months of their bereavement. Some studies suggest that a major loss, particularly if suffered early in life, may set the stage for depression later in life. (Gutman & Nemeroff, 2011)

It is important to remember that no matter how difficult life may get, you can pull through by staying in the present moment through practicing mindfulness. You may already know that acceptance is the foundation of mindfulness. Once you reach a stage where you can accept your loss, your awareness will increasre and the future will look brighter.

Reach Out for Emotional Support

It is also important to reach out to friends and family, not only for emotional support but for help making your life less difficult. Many friends and neighbors want to help but don’t know how. So express your feelings and tell them your needs. You may find yourself holding back your feelings and emotions, keeping them inside. This can cause problems, both emotionally and physically. If you don’t want to share certain feelings with friends or family members, you should consider contacting a therapist to help relieve you of these troubling thoughts and emotions.

Take Care of Yourself

Maintaining normal diet and sleep patterns is equally important. Eat a wide variety of foods, particularly fresh vegetables and fruits. Stay active. Go out for a walk and get some fresh air and sunshine. Avoid over-eating, alcohol, and any potentially dangerous substances. If you do begin to notice signs of health issues be sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Give Yourself a Future

Set some short-term goals and work to achieve them. You can start by making a few “to-do” lists. Like sending thank-you cards and notes, paying a few bills, visiting and calling friends. Don’t rush. Take your time. Recognize your progress you make as you work through your lists and pat yourself on the back. Take it one day at a time, and practice breathing mindfully throughout your day.

As you progress through your short-term lists, start writing down some longer-range plans. For example, getting a better job, taking a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. Start a new hobby and take a class to go with it, or join a club. Do some volunteer work in town. Don’t set impossible goals though. Keep them simple and do-able.

Help a Fellow Griever

Be aware of others you know who may be grieving, and could use your help. Sympathy can be especially welcome coming from someone who has gone through a similar challenge. Just being a good listener, offering encouragement, and providing help with meals can be a tremendous help – to both of you.

And don’t forget to practice living mindfully. Seek help whenever you need it by contacting counselors, social service organizations, support groups (such as bereavemernt groups), your church and reviewe our resources.

In time, you will be living life to the fullest again.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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