|Cry and Yell|
Grieving is one of life’s most unpleasant events. Like falling in love, experiencing grief can make you feel as though you are going a little crazy—except grief is not enjoyable. Almost all societies recognize that grief is a long-term process that includes anger, fear, sadness and a sense of unfairness and loneliness. Moods can change in a moment, and those pangs of grief can grip the stomach worse than a roller coaster. Sometimes, even in people who were previously strong and stable before the loss, the sadness can turn into depression.
Bereavement takes time, but here are a few tips that might help lessen the intensity, frequency and duration of grief reactions.
Charitable deeds have long helped people deal with grief. Former First Lady Barbara Bush, for example, said that becoming a volunteer was instrumental in aiding her recovery from the loss of her daughter.
Make a list of causes, social issues or organizations that are personally important. Read your local paper for stories of people, animals, charities or the arts that spark interest and need help from community members.
Many times, people channel their grief into social activism. For example John Walsh, of the television show AMERICA’S MOST WANTED, found an excellent way to deal with personal grief by giving back to nation after his little boy was murdered.
However, a person doesn’t have to be famous or make grand gestures to benefit from helping. Some wives, for example, of downed American soldiers of the Iraq War, have formed local support groups for other families.
Charitable acts and activism can limit the tendency of mourners to incorporate their grief into their
identity. Instead of seeing themselves as “someone who’s had a tragedy,” they see themselves as a “good person, and family and community member who can still think of others.” The act of giving back keeps the person’s major identity as positive rather than negative and impaired.
Often, grief can feel like a powerful magnet that keeps people in bed, isolated or in their pajamas all day. Resist that pull. Call friends and family and schedule on-going lunch or dinner dates with them. Ask them to stay in touch and check in on a regular basis.
If friends and family are not cooperative, contact the local hospital or hospice organization to see if they offer discussion or education events. Research has repeatedly shown that social support is an essential part of managing grief.
Crying is not a sign of weakness. In fact, crying is the body’s way of getting rid of chemical toxins. Studies have shown that the composition of tears of joy differs from tears of sadness. Get it out. Or, find a private spot such as the bedroom, basement or bathroom and scream out feelings of anger and unfairness.
Read uplifting biographies, the Bible or any of the classic and bestselling inspirational books on happiness. After reading these books, develop personalized statements to use daily. For example, try repeating out loud several times a day sentences such as: I will be okay; It is not my fault; I can make it.
Finally, if depression or anxiety worsen or impede daily functioning, go to the doctor. Family practitioners and internal medicine specialists can help. There is no shame in needing medication. Grief affects people’s chemical balance in different ways.
Most importantly, remember people can survive grief and triumph over it.