Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Suggestions to get your Child/Adolescent moving through Grief

Practical Steps to Managing Grief
Emily Dickinson wrote, “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; if I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”  For those readers who are experiencing loss, I offer these practical steps. Take time alone and time with others whom you trust and who will listen when you need to talk.  It may take many months to feel and understand the feelings that go along with loss.
You may need extra numbers of hot baths, afternoon naps, trips, or a “cause” to work for to help others – any of these may give you a lift.  Grief is an exhausting process emotionally.  Follow what feels healing to you and what connects you to the people and things you love.  
You may find hope and comfort from those who have experienced a similar loss.  Knowing some things that helped them and realizing that they have recovered, that time does help, may give you hope that sometime in the future your grief will be less raw and painful.  
Try to allow yourself to accept caring from others even though it may be uneasy and awkward.  Helping a friend or relative also suffering the same loss may bring a feeling of closeness with that person.
For awhile, it will seem that much of life is without meaning.  At times like these, small goals are helpful.  Something to look forward to, like playing tennis next week, a movie, or a trip next month may help you get through the time in the immediate future. 
Do not underestimate the healing effects of small pleasures as you are ready.  Sunsets, a walk, a favorite food – all are small steps toward regaining your pleasure in life itself. At first, don’t be surprised if your enjoyment of these things isn’t the same.  This is normal.  As a rule of thumb, living one day at a time helps.  As time passes, you may need to work on some longer range goals to give some structure and direction to your life.  You may need guidance or counseling to help with this.
Sometimes after a period of feeling good, we find ourselves back in the old feelings of extreme sadness, despair, or anger.  This is often the nature of grief and it may happen over and over for a time.  It happens because, as humans, we cannot take in all of the pain and the meaning of life at once.  So, we let it in a little at a time. We cannot prevent or cure grief.  The only way OUT is THROUGH!
Dr Dan Trathen is a minister, psychologist, international co-author, and national speaker. He lives in Colorado with his wife, children and grandchildren.
© Daniel W. Trathen   DMin, PhD

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