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Coping with grief and loss

Coping with Grief and Loss - Finding Support After a Loss

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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 is offered. Oftentimes people want to help but do not know how, so tell them what you need – whether it is a shoulder to cry on or just someone to be with you.

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 are 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. Our bereavement coordinator can assist you in connecting with a support group.

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. Our bereavement coordinator at Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare is available for support and counsel.

When you are grieving, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.

Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you cannot 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.

Do not let anyone tell you how to feel, and do not tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it is time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It is okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It is also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you are 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 is completely normal. If you are 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.

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