Complicated Grief Coping and Support
Back to Life! A Personal Grief Guidebook.
From the Mayo Clinic.
"Although it's important to get professional treatment for complicated grief, you can take steps on your own to cope, including:
Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed and attend therapy appointments as scheduled.
Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve depression, stress and anxiety and can redirect your mind to the activity at hand.
Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat a balanced diet and take time to relax. Don't turn to alcohol or unprescribed drugs for relief.
Reach out to your faith community. If you follow religious practices or traditions, you may gain comfort from rituals or guidance from a spiritual leader.
Practice stress management. Learn how to better manage stress. Unmanaged stress can lead to depression, overeating, or other unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.
Socialize. Stay connected with people you enjoy being around. They can offer support, a shoulder to cry on or a joke to give you a little boost.
Plan ahead for special dates or anniversaries. Holidays, anniversaries and special occasions can trigger painful reminders of your loved one. Find new ways to celebrate or acknowledge your loved one that provide you comfort and hope.
Learn new skills. If you were highly dependent on your loved one, perhaps to handle the cooking or finances, for example, try to master these tasks yourself. Ask family, friends or professionals for guidance, if necessary. Seek out community classes and resources, too.
Join a support group. You may not be ready to join a support group immediately after your loss, but over time you may find shared experiences comforting and you may form meaningful new relationships."
Awareness Offers Choice
I was struck by the steps listed above for coping with traumatic grief. While those steps include working with your mental health professional, a number of the steps are right out of a normal routine for well-being including physical exercise and stress management.
Implicit in the above steps is the idea that we have a large degree of choice in how we think and feel and behave, even when dealing with an issue like grief.
Over the years, in dealing with my own losses, from war and addictions and disease, and being 60 years old, I am working regularly on physical exercise and stress management and building a schedule into my life that allows me to feel flow.
I did not know I was doing that until I read Steve Pavlina's blog, but I do schedule myself to be involved in many activities I enjoy, and can stay busy at for hours.
I learned early on in AA that it was important to maintain an "Attitude of Gratitude."
But I did not know that because of the way that my brain interacts with sensory data, that I need to remind myself of this kind of thought very frequently. When I am attending to business problems related to small cash flow, for example, I will create a stressful physiology in about 1/18th second.
I need to remind myself of something I am greatful for frequently (have the thought) to resolve the internal chemistry, to move from cortisol and adrenalin to DHEA, a much different and more healthy hormonal bath.
So when I am grieving I need to remind myself of the love I had for the individual who is gone now, in the midst of the pain of missing them, and if I am grieving the loss of a dream, I need to remember that other doors will open.
Change the thought to change the feeling, and the body will follow along, and grief can be done in manageable pieces.
Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
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