The events that took place in Orlando this week have left me heart broken. Orlando was my home for a number of years throughout my twenties, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. As I watch the news and hear the stories from that horrific night, I am deeply saddened. I cannot wrap my head around what the friends and families of the victims must be experiencing. They will go through a grieving process that most of us will never fully understand. The Orlando events and another sudden loss I learned of yesterday have me thinking about how important it is to deal with grief and how mental health is a huge component of our overall well-being.
When I write these Wellness Wednesday articles, I often focus on physical health with exercise and nutrition related articles. Wellness, however, is defined as the state or condition of being in good physical AND mental health. Today I’d like to look at mental health, in particular the topic of grief. Whether or not you are personally connected to the Orlando shootings, everyone will go through grief at some point in their life. This is especially true as you age. Loss of a spouse, friends, pets, and even children can make growing older emotionally challenging. Loneliness and depression affect many older adults after the loss of a loved one; so, today, let’s look at some ways to deal with grief.
Dealing with Grief
Coping with death is vital to your mental health. It’s only natural to experience grief when a loved one dies. The best thing you can do is allow yourself time to grieve. According to Mental Health America, there are many ways to cope effectively with your pain.
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.
Helping Others Grieve
If someone you care about has lost a loved one, you might become his or her confidant and rock during this time. You can use these tips to help them through the grieving process.
Share the sorrow. Allow them — even encourage them — to talk about their feelings of loss and share memories of the deceased.
Don’t offer false comfort. It doesn’t help the grieving person when you say “it was for the best” or “you’ll get over it in time.” Instead, offer a simple expression of sorrow and take time to listen.
Be patient. Remember that it can take a long time to recover from a major loss. Make yourself available to talk.
Offer practical help. Baby-sitting, cooking and running errands are all ways to help someone who is in the midst of grieving.
Encourage professional help when necessary. Don’t hesitate to recommend professional help when you feel someone is experiencing too much pain to cope alone.
Remember, with support, patience, and effort, you will survive grief. Some day the pain will lessen, leaving you with cherished memories of your loved one.
For More Help
If you feel that the pain is more than you can handle or you would like more information on how to deal with grief, please refer to one of the organizations listed below. You are not alone and help is available!
Hospice programs in nearly every community throughout the United Sates offers bereavement counseling and support groups. To find the location of a hospice near you, contact…
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
For Parents Enduring the Loss of a Child:
National Suicide Hotline USA
Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!