Living with Grief and Loss

This week’s video covers grief and loss, another topic suggestion someone asked me to highlight.  I discuss the variety of feelings you may be feeling, how you might be coping, stages of grief, as well as tips for healing. I hope you’ll subscribe, comment, and send more topic ideas.

Coping with Epilepsy

This video discusses the effects of epilepsy both on the individual and their family members.  It can be helpful to find ways to express emotions through art as well as talking.  kunmidrawing

I was contacted by Healthline which has published an educational article about more of the medical aspects of epilepsy, particularly the effects it has on different systems in the body. I hope you might find this article helpful as you seek out more information about this illness.

Coping with Grief & Loss Over the Holidays

flowergrave

Photo Credit: Gabriel Schouten de Jel

While the holidays are a time of celebration and excitement, they can also bring about feelings of sadness as we feel the absence of those we have lost.  Here are some things to consider as you cope with grief and loss this holiday season:

  1. Keep things simple; eliminate unnecessary stress; don’t expect yourself to do all you might have done from past holidays.  Allow yourself some time and self-care and communicate with your loved ones your intentions.
  2. Find a way to honor the life of your loved one.
  3. Spend time sharing stories of your loved one; take time to process your feelings around this loss.
  4. Create new traditions. This could be as simple as lighting a candle or donating a gift in that person’s memory or a more involved project like a memory box, preparing that person’s favorite meal, or a quilt.
  5. Nurture those relationships that are most meaningful to you.
  6. Find ways to share your time, talents, and skills.
  7. Allow yourself all the feelings of the holidays. Expect joy, sadness, love, laughter, and be generous with yourself.

There are resources to support those who might want professional support from individual counseling to bereavement support groups.  I found one online community that has articles, forums, community groups, and ways to create an online memorial for your loved one at www.hellogrief.org.  Please feel free to contact me if you would like referrals.  It is important to remember we all grieve in our own ways and there is no right or wrong way. Most important is to remember to take care of you during this time.

Letting go of Anger; Finding Hope Again

I have had the privilege of following a young man at the hospital whom I met when he first arrived.  With a history of suicide attempts — with two just in the past month — he came to us after a really life-changing experience.  While I cannot disclose the details of these events I can say that he’s had to learn how to walk again, and his life will never be the same.

One great honor was to be able to see him at discharge almost a month after his arrival at the hospital!  He came to my office with a sparkle in his eyes, a great new plan for a new home, and an optimism that did not exist when I first met him.  He told me he’s let go of his anger and let his father back into his life, and somehow this event has changed his outlook.  Two days later his mom told me, teary eyed, that this guy was sad and nervous to go home and also sad to say goodbye to such nice people.

I feel so blessed to be part of his healing journey, to get to see the other side of a recovery path and watch his strides towards being a healthier and happier being.  I share this story because I hope it illustrates the benefits of letting go of anger, which can darken and dominate a person’s life.  And by letting go of anger, healing can begin.

Grief and Loss

I’ve been thinking about grief and loss lately as I’ve support a friend whose had three deaths in her life this year, as I’ve learned a patient in her 20s is facing hospice, and listened to a patient’s family member tell me her husband was more upset about missing his son’s birthday than the brain bleed he endured.

Recently I’ve talked with daughters whose mother’s depression over her husband’s death and her own terminal cancer has left her feeling she has no control.  Instead she chooses to eat little and talk less to find that sense of control.  Grieving is painful, sad, hopeful, comforting, numbing, angering…it washes over us as we listen to the lyrics of a song, glance at our photos or reach for our keepsakes.  We hang on to memories, remembering their voice, wanting to call them about something only they would understand – and we must find a way to keep on living without.

At times we may live days in a row without thinking of them.  Other days we remember all too well and are hit again by the fact that I’ll never see him again, never laugh with her again.  Perhaps our grief is linked to the loss of physical ability after a head injury, having to depend on family as caregivers and learn how to walk again.  Or face the guilt we feel for missing out on family milestones and we now feel a burden during what should be a joyous time.

There is no easy fix when facing grief.  Often it is important to find support in our friends and family or even a support group as grief can be isolating.  It is important to remember while our own experience is unique, others experience very similar feelings as well.  It can be important to find ways to express our grief creatively whether through art, pottery, or some other creative outlet or verbally through story telling and sharing.  There can be something empowering about finding a cause that our loved one believed in that we can support, or joining a cause for an illness that we too are living with.

No matter what we choose as an outlet it is important to face our grief, otherwise grief can manifest in other ways such as headaches or compromised immune systems.  Finding a counselor who specializes in grief and loss can be helpful, as someone who provides this type of support I will work with clients to share stories, work through the pain, and find a new path to walk as one learns to live without.