|Distant Healer- Give yourself the gift of healing energy, the wisdom to accept it and the knowledge to use it for your greater good. Phil Chave|
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creator of Distant Healer
A guide to coping with the death of a loved one
Martha is having difficulty sleeping lately and no longer enjoys doing things with her friends. Martha lost her husband of 26 years to cancer a month ago.
Anya, age 17, doesnít feel like eating and spends the days in her room crying. Her grandmother in South Carolina recently died. Anya misses writing to her grandmother and their weekly phone calls.
Both of these individuals are experiencing grief. Grief is an emotion natural to all types of loss or significant change. Grief uses both physical and emotional energy. After losing a loved one, an individual may grieve not only the loss of the person, but also the hopes, dreams, needs and expectations of that person: not only what is lost in the present, but what is lost for the future, as well.
Feelings of Grief
Physical symptoms of grief
In addition to the feelings associated with grief, physical sensations are connected with the grief experience. It is important for a physician who is aware of the survivorís loss to assess and monitor physical symptoms.
They may include the following:
Grief is a process that touches people in every aspect of their being. Along with physical symptoms and feelings, the way a person thinks may change or be disrupted.
The list of cognitive expressions or thought patterns surrounding grief is extensive, especially in the early period of grieving. These thought patterns can impair performance in work and school. Some may persist, and may lead to anxiety or depression. Although frequently encountered during grief, cognitive symptoms can be disturbing to experience.
Here are some signs of grief.
The behavioral expressions of grief may include:
A wide range of intense feelings may arise in the first year, and then gradually diminish. It is not unusual for a bereaved person to experience episodes of intense feelings from time to time, especially at holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates in the relationship.
Gender differences in the grieving process
Men and women often experience the grieving process differently as we are socialized differently in our society. Although this is changing, the idea that men donít cry, still exists.
Men have a tendency to want to solve the problem and become more active in work and leisure activities when grieving. They are less likely to reach out and talk to others and express their grief openly.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to express their grief and receive support from others. Women are more likely to reach out to others, and to attend grief support groups. Women often have fewer health consequences after losing a spouse than do men.
As members of a family go through the grieving process it may help them to know that there are some differences in how men and women grieve. Perhaps men and women can learn from each other that expressing emotion, seeking support from others and taking action to return to routines are all helpful.
Children and grief
Society today tends to shield children from death. The process of caring for the deceased has been moved out of the home to the funeral home. Yet children need an opportunity to grieve.
Children express their grief differently from adults due to childrenís limited cognitive development. Young children do not understand what causes death or that it cannot be reversed. Between the ages of three and four, children begin to understand the idea of death, but it is not until they reach age nine or 10 that they understand that death is permanent and inevitable for all living things.
Children are often confused about grief. They may not understand why they feel sad, have no appetite, or cannot sleep. The result is that they often misbehave because of their confusion. Parents and other adults can help children better understand the grief process.
Here are some ideas for parents.
Helping others who are experiencing grief
When a friend, loved one, or co-worker is experiencing grief - people often have a hard time -- how can they help? It helps to understand that grief is expressed through a variety of behaviors.
Reach out to others in their grief, but understand that there will be various reactions. Some may not want to accept help and will not share their grief.
Others will want to talk about their thoughts and feelings or reminisce. Sometimes a simple gesture of sympathy, such as a bunch of flowers will provide some comfort, and shows you are thinking of them.
Be patient and let the grieving person know that you care and are there to support him or her. If the grieving person becomes despondent to a point where you are concerned for their safety, or the safety of others, contact a mental health professional, medical doctor, or emergency personnel immediately.
Grief is a normal reaction to loss, and affects individuals differently. Both the young and old experience grief when they experience loss.
Be understanding of others as they work through their grief. If you are experiencing grief, be gentle and patient with yourself.
Do not try to rush the process, there is no specific timeline for grief. The feelings of loss may never totally disappear. However, over time it becomes manageable.
If grief becomes overwhelming and you or someone you know cannot continue with normal activities, seek counseling.
We would like to thank the following individuals for reviewing this guide:
ē Kate Comstock
ē Connie Olson, MSW
ē The Reverend Carol Simms, ED.D., LCPC
ē Mary Zartman, MSU Extension Director of Personnel
My sincere thanks to Peggy Amaral-Lombard, MA, LCPC Park County Extension Agent and Sandra J. Bailey, Ph.D., CFLE, Family & Human Development Specialist, and to the MSU Extension Service, for allowing me to recreate this article. Their copyright is acknowledged and retained.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.|
The Haven Healing Centre is located at: The Haven, Street End Lane, Blagdon, Bristol, BS40 7TW