Originally posted on 3/25/2015.
It saddens me to say that this post is somewhat personal; unfortunately many of my friends and family are grieving at this time. But this post is for anyone who sympathizes with this topic or is supporting someone who is grieving.
I shared in my About Me section about the sudden loss of my dog last year. The loss of my beloved pup (I still can’t say the “D” word) was my reason for starting this blog in the first place. I have lost close family members within the last 8 years, which rattled me to my core and changed me forever. I learned a lot through this grieving experience, which helps me empathize with my clients in treatment. Regardless of the fact that I am a therapist who has experienced personal losses in my life, each client’s loss is unique.
Grief is the price we pay for love.
Here are a few coping skills I recommend to clients dealing with grief and some that I have used in my own life.
- Write. Write about angry you feel, how sad you are, how lost you are….you get the point. Write a letter to the person or animal you lost. Keep writing to them. Do some faith-based writing to your Higher Power as well, if that will provide comfort. It can help to buy a small journal devoted to them.
- Self-Inventory: Pay attention to your basic needs: food, water, rest. When I encounter someone going through a loss I ask what they need, not how they feel. Basic needs go out the door when you grieve. No one knows what you need unless you tell them. Read that again….
- Memorial Area: Setting up a memorial area in your home can be helpful. If it’s not too painful put up a favorite picture, light a candle, place a poem in this area. When my pup passed away the crematorium was kind enough to make a frame with his paw print, a lock of his hair and a copy of the Rainbow Bridge poem. I place a fresh flower from our garden for my pup when they’re in bloom and even put some of his holiday toys on his shelf during Christmas.
- Reading: Here are a few books devoted to this topic:
5. The website entitled “What’s Your Grief” provides helpful articles on every grief-related topic you could think of (holidays, journaling, coping for kids, overdose, etc). I have found their Facebook posts enlightening and sensitive to this topic. The What’s Your Grief Facebook page also has a book club and support network, which can be helpful.
If you are supporting a loved one going through a loss, be cautious of their use of alcohol or sleeping medications. If you are concerned about a loved one you can contact the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. They are available 24 hours a day and provide information in Spanish and English.
What ways of coping have helped you or a loved one?
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Grief doesn’t end after the services or funeral. Grief changes you forever and loved ones will need support for many months and/or years to come.