Working Through Grief: It’s Different for Everyone
Posted Dec 29 2009 12:00am
Grief can’t be shared. Everyone carries it alone, his
own burden, his own way.
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh
A death of a loved one, a job loss, the end of a marriage, an illness or disability. Everyone faces losses and grief, but the toll that grief can take on the mind and body can catch many people by surprise.
The December issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Source provides an overview of grief — a normal reaction to loss. In years past, grief often was described as following a certain pattern or orderly progression from one feeling to another.
But there is no one way to grieve. People who are grieving experience many different emotions in any number of combinations. They may include denial, sadness, anger, confusion, despair and even guilt. Physical reactions can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, a drop in energy level, body aches and pain or the development or worsening of an illness.
Time spent grieving varies, too. Some people take months to fully accept or adapt to a loss. For others, the process may take years. To help cope with grief:
– Express feelings: Suppressing thoughts and emotions may prevent working through grief. Friends, family or members of the religious community often can be a source of support and comfort. Other options are support groups or grief counselors.
– Delay any major decisions or changes: Decisions that affect life and lifestyle, such as housing changes or new ways of handling finances, should wait a while. Advice from a trusted family member or friend, financial adviser or attorney may be helpful.
– Take care of personal health: Eating right, getting adequate sleep and limiting alcohol are important. Regular exercise can relieve stress and anxiety.
– Be patient: Expecting to simply “get over” grief is unrealistic. Ups and downs may last for weeks or months following a loss. Though some feelings of loss may never fully go away, the most intense signs and symptoms of grief typically diminish over time, within six months or so. Grief that is prolonged and debilitating may be a sign of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. A doctor should be consulted for treatment options. Source:Mayo Clinic Image credit: Getty Images
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