Grief and Grieving
Grief and Grieving
Coping with grief
Home treatment plays an
important role in working through the
grieving process. Talking about the loss, sharing
cares and concerns, and getting support from others are very important
components of healthy grieving.
If you are caring for a dying
loved one, it is important to take good care of yourself also. When you know
that a loss is approaching, especially if you are able to participate in the
care of a loved one who is dying, you may be better able to recognize and deal
with your feelings of grief. It is important that you get
caregiver support to help you care for your loved one
as well as to help you prepare for your loss.
If you have just
had a major loss in your life, it is important to:
- Get enough rest and sleep. During sleep, your mind makes sense of what is happening in your
life. Not getting enough rest and sleep can lead to physical illness and
exhaustion. Try activities to help you relax, such as
- Eat nourishing foods. Resist the urge not to eat or to eat only those foods
that comfort you. If you have trouble eating alone, ask another person to join
you for a snack or meal. If you do not have an appetite, eat frequent small
meals and snacks. Consider taking a multivitamin daily.
If nothing else, take a walk. Brisk walking and other forms of exercise, such
as yoga or
tai chi and qi gong, can help release some of your pent-up emotions.
- Comfort yourself. Allow yourself the
opportunity to be comforted by familiar surroundings and personal items that
you value. Special items, such as photos or a loved one's favorite shirt, may
also give you comfort. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, such as a
- Keep doing your normal activities. Staying involved in activities that include your
support network, such as work, church, or community activities, may help you as
To help you work through the grieving process, make sure
- Surround yourself with loved ones. You may feel lonely and separate from other people when you are
grieving. You may think that no one else can understand the depth of your
feelings. Surrounding yourself with loved ones and talking about your feelings
and concerns may help you feel more connected with other people and less
- Get involved. Take part in the
activities that occur as a result of the loss. These may include making funeral
arrangements after the death of a loved one, making plans for seeking new work
after losing a job, or going to a good-bye party for a beloved friend
who is moving.
- Avoid quick fixes. Resist the
urge to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or take nonprescription medicines
(such as sleeping aids). When you are under emotional stress, these may only
add to your unpleasant feelings and experiences and may mask your emotions and
prevent you from normal, necessary grieving.
- Ask for help. During times of emotional distress it is important to allow
other people to take over some of your responsibilities. Other people often
feel the need to show you how much they care about you.
- Grief: Coping With Grief
Helping others cope with grief
There are many ways
that family members and other people close to a person who is grieving can give
help and support. The best way to help a grieving person often depends on how
well the person was prepared for the loss, the person's perception of death,
and his or her personality and coping style. The person's age and stage of
emotional development are also important to think about when you are helping a person who
If someone you know is grieving:
- Encourage the person to grieve at his or her
own pace. The grieving process does not happen in a step-by-step or orderly
fashion. There will be good days and bad days. Do not try to "fix" the person's
grief. Provide support and be willing to listen.
- Be sensitive to
the effect of your words.
- Recognize that this person's life has
changed forever. Encourage the person to participate in activities that involve
and build his or her support network.
- Respect the person's personal
beliefs. Listen to his or her feelings without making judgments. Do not try to
change the person's beliefs or feelings.
Helping young children who are
grieving can be challenging for adult caregivers. The best way to help a child
varies according to age and emotional development.
- Grief: Helping Children With Grief
Teens may need special
consideration and care when they are grieving. Many times it is hard to
know how to approach and help a teen in these circumstances.
- Grief: Helping Teens With Grief
Older adults may not express grief
in the same way as other adults. Older adults are more likely to become
physically ill after a major loss. They may already have a chronic physical
illness or other conditions that interfere with their ability to grieve or that
become worse when they are grieving. Also, older adults may be likely to
complications associated with grieving. Older adults
may be more likely than other people to experience several losses in a short
period of time.
- Grief: Helping Older Adults With Grief
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry
October 17, 2011
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