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

Practical Steps to Managing Grief

By Daniel W. Trathen, D. Min. Ph. D.

TIME: Time alone and time with others whom you trust and who will listen when you need to talk. Months and years of time to feel and understand the feelings that go along with loss.

REST – RELAXATION – EXERCISE – NOURISHMENT – DIVERSION: You may need extra amounts of things you needed before. Hot baths, afternoon naps, a trip, 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.

SECURITY: Try to reduce or find help for financial or other stresses in your life. Getting back into a routine can help. Allow yourself to be close to those you trust. You may need to allow yourself to do things at your own pace.

HOPE: 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. Focus on the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes. Meditate on God’s promise of comfort, hope and peace.

CARING: Try to allow yourself to accept the expression of caring from others even though they may be uneasy and awkward. Helping a friend or relative also suffering the same loss may bring a feeling of closeness with that person.

GOALS: 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 helps you get through the time in the immediate future. Living one day at a time helps, as a rule of thumb. At first, don’t be surprised if your enjoyment of these things isn’t the same. This is normal. 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.

SMALL PLEASURES: 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.

PERMISSION TO FEEL: 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, up and down, 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.

MEDICATION MAY BE HELPFUL: Medication can be used to help people get through periods of shock under a physician’s guidance. This may prolong and delay the necessary process of grieving, however, it may be needed for those suffering from extreme symptoms. We cannot prevent or cure grief. The only way OUT is THROUGH.

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