A MONTHLY BLOG FROM MHA DIRECTOR KATHY ROGERS

October Topic:

If We Love, We Grieve



"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and

of unspeakable love." 

Washington Irving 


Over the past several weeks, I have witnessed friends and family experiencing the overwhelming grief that comes with the loss of a loved one, and I have also seen the strength and perseverance that human beings possess to cope with such loss. The writer Earl Grollman said, “The only cure for grief is to grieve.”

 

Finding ways to cope with our grief can be difficult when we are in the eye of the storm. From my own personal experience of losing my husband suddenly in 2010, I know it’s normal to want to shut off the world or to focus on others to ensure those around us are taken care of in their time of loss. But being intentional in our grief and how we take care of ourselves is important to the grieving process.

 

In an article titled All About Grief: What Causes It, How to Cope With It, and When to Get Help, Markham Heid writes, “More so than most other species, we form intensely close bonds with family members and friends, and to a lesser extent also with neighbors, colleagues, and acquaintances. When loss breaks one of those bonds, it’s natural and normal to experience a strong emotional response.”

Often grief can manifest itself in a wide range of symptoms from physical to behavioral. Stomach pain, loss of appetite, loss of sleep or feeling fatigued can all be symptoms that we experience from acute grief. In addition to physical symptoms, profound emotional reactions can occur, that include anxiety or panic attacks, depression and thoughts of suicide.


What can we do when we are dealing with grief and mourning, and all that comes with it? We must give ourselves permission and time to grieve. Here are some ways to cope with the pain that comes from loss:


Seek out caring people. Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.

Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.

Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief.

Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.

Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes, such as moving, remarrying, changing jobs or having another child. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss.

Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.

Seek outside help when necessary. If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It's a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.


(Source:  Mental Health America national website.)

 “...we are left to enter a new and strange land—

a land where one of the persons who has

given meaning to our life is gone. .

Martha W. Hickman

In her book, Healing After Loss, Martha W. Hickman writes, “After the loss of a loved one there is, at first, a great buzz of activity as we make arrangements, as family and friends come together…there is comfort in the close press of friends. But then the services are over, relatives and friends go home, and we are left to enter a new and strange land—a land where one of the persons who has given meaning to our life is gone.”


There is no ‘one size fits all’ as to how we deal with grief, and there is no right or wrong way to cope with grief. Grieving and healing take time and happens gradually. There is no normal where grieving is concerned. No matter how you are feeling, it’s important to be patient and give yourself the grace and time you need.


Hickman, who lost her 16-year-old daughter in a tragic accident, says, “…while there may always be a tinge of sadness, there will come a sense of our own inner strength and our ability to rejoice in the life we have shared, and to look toward a future in which the loved one, though not physically present, continues to bless us.”


For anyone who is feeling the grief from losing a loved one, remember this from Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, “Our grief is an individual as our lives.”

Myths and Facts About Grief


Myth: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it

 

Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.


Myth: It's important to “be strong” in the face of loss.

 

Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn't mean you are weak. You don't need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.


Myth: If you don't cry, it means you aren't sorry about the loss.

 

Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it's not the only one. Those who don't cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.


Myth: Grieving should last about a year.

 

Fact: There is no specific time frame for grieving. How long it takes differs from person to person.


Myth: Moving on with your life means forgetting about your loss.

 

Fact: Moving on means you've accepted your loss—but that's not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you. In fact, as we move through life, these memories can become more and more integral to defining the people we are.


(Source:  Help Guide article by Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.)

Virtual Wellness Break focused on Healing from Grief


On Tuesday, December 6, 2022 from 12:00-12:30 p.m., MHA Storyteller Missy Willis will share a tool that's been valuable to her when it comes to working through grief. Missy has found the act of letter writing can be tremendously healing and a beautiful way to reconnect emotionally with those no longer with us physically. It can help us remember, to forgive and offer time to reflect and possibly see things differently. Missy will share how to get started if you are open to trying this practice. 


Register Now

Take Action:

If you know someone who is grieving, take time to offer an

encouraging word, a note, text...just be there.

#MHACCGrief


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