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Helping Yourself While You Are Grieving
By Alice Teagarden

"There is no "right or wrong" way to grieve. We do need to acknowledge, however, that emotions presented in an extreme or intense manner which interfere with everyday functioning may warrant a professional intervention."

Recognizing that grief and mourning after the death of a loved one is a typical reaction with a wide range of emotions, one might next ask, "How do I help myself cope with everyday life while I am mourning?"

Some suggestions include:

  • Educate yourself about grief and grief responses by reading about grief or attending a grief support group. Talking with trained spiritual, medical and mental health professionals is also a way of meeting this educational need.
  • You should take care of your physical needs by eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting the exercise your physician suggests and by getting adequate sleep.
  • Be sure to recognize your need to avoid stress. Use quiet time to relax and rest. Surround yourself with loved ones and friends who know how to LISTEN! Remember if you ask someone to listen to you and they tell you how you should feel, they are not listening!
  • Keeping a private journal allows you the opportunity to let out your feelings. In your journal, you could write a letter to the person who died and tell them how you feel. You can use your journal to write about the many things you want to remember about your loved one. Allowing yourself to write and express your emotions helps you to recognize if you are moving forward or backwards in your grief work.
  • Creating a ritual which gives you permission to grieve can be helpful. Examples are visiting the cemetery, a candle lighting memorial, or a get together of family and friends to talk about your loved one.
  • Use your faith and spiritual belief system to bring yourself comfort. It is not unusual to have spiritual questions after a loss. Turn to your spiritual mentors for discussion and exploration of those questions.

If you have been practicing positive coping skills, but you find yourself wondering, "Am I doing this right?" Remember we all grieve differently. There is no "right or wrong" way to grieve. We do need to acknowledge, however, that emotions presented in an extreme or intense manner which interfere with everyday functioning may warrant a professional intervention.

For example, it is not unusual to experience anger after a death. It is not unusual to want to express that anger. However if your anger is pushing people away, you may want to consider talking with a counselor, physician or pastor who has an understanding of grief work.

If feelings of depression are intense, leading to feelings of helplessness, worthlessness or suicidal ideations, one must not feel they will "snap out of it." They must talk with a health care provider immediately.

Your grief journey may not be what you expected. Hospice Care of the Washington Hospital offers regularly scheduled support groups to assist in the grieving process.

If you would like to attend a Support Group, contact Alice Teagarden, Certified Grief Counselor, Hospice Care of The Washington Hospital, at (724) 250-4500.

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