TOOLS FOR COPING
From: San Diego Hospice When you experience a major loss, illness, death, separation or any life change, here are some tools for coping with everyday thoughts, feelings and realities of living.
- Be gentle with your own feeling and thought process. Avoid self-judgment. Do not put “I should have” on yourself.
- Find a supportive person or persons you can trust. Share your honest feelings and ideas.
- Give yourself time for healing. The timing of grief cannot be rushed.
When you experience fear, anger, helplessness, sorrow, pain, emptiness, isolation, depression, relief, it can be very confusing. Questions to focus on are:
- How do I feel right now? (Check body sensations as well as thoughts and emotions.)
- What do I need right now? (Focus on immediate, attainable needs.)
- How can I meet, or get a supportive friend to help me meet, these needs right now?
- Try to maintain as “regular” a schedule as possible. Avoid unrealistic expectations or goals of yourself.
Listening to your body is critical during this period. And listening is different than “doing something for” your body. Listening means to honor the message your body is sending you. Words or tears that are unexpressed can cause a lump in our throats. Anger that is held inside can give us upset stomach, headache, or tight neck and shoulders. Fear can be expressed by wringing hands, shakiness or queasy stomach. Guilt or resentment can feel like physical burdens we are carrying. Sorrow or depression can feel like pressure orbreaking in our hearts or chest area. Breathing may be labored. We may heave great sighs. Our energy is depleted – grieving is hard work, and it takes a lot out of us physically as well as emotionally. Recognizing that putting one foot in front of the other is a challenge is important. Often a combination of these feelings are experienced. It is important to ask the part of the body that is feeling these sensations the following:
- If you could talk, what would you say?
- What would you need?
- What picture of symbol best expresses you right now?
- What do you look like?
- What is happening to you right now?
From: San Diego Hospice Bereavement Department Author: Zig Zigler (from an article in “Grief Magazine” 2001)
Give out your grief. Look for opportunities to help someone else, even while you are hurting. “When you yourself are hurting, give what little joy you have and it will return to you.” Share your grief. “Shared grief builds and deepens a relationship. And, over time, a deep relationship gives freedom to share grief. The process is cyclical.” Keep Talking. “Continue to think about and to talk to the person who has died as if he is still with you.” This, Zigler says, keeps the memories alive. Talk about her. “I believe that conversation is a priceless healer. We know that a broken bone needs attention. So does a broken heart. Talking is great broken- heart therapy.” Buckle Up. The grief journey is like a roller coaster that you can ride but cannot steer. “There have been moments of deep grief that I was unable to anticipate. There have been moments in which I expected to experience grief, and those moments passed without strong emotion. Grief emerges at random.” Choose. “I can lament the fact that I do not hear Suzan’s laughter, or I can rejoice at the number of times I did hear it. Many things related to grief are choices.” Pick Three. Zigler suggests that you isolate the top three memories you have of the person who dies, and focus on those.