Showing posts with label how to handle death and grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to handle death and grief. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Healing from Grief

One of the difficult aspects of reaching our 60s, 70s and beyond is the fact that we are likely to lose more friends and family members than we did when we were younger.  Grief is something we are all going to experience.  While we cannot avoid experiencing the loss of someone we love, there are steps we can take to help us heal.

When Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Facebook, unexpectedly lost her husband while they were on a family vacation, she was devastated.  The couple had two young children and, difficult as it was, Sheryl knew she had to move on with her life for their sake.  It has not been easy her, and she admits that while "the fog of acute grief has lifted ... the sadness and longing for Dave remain."  While learning to heal, she wrote a book called "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy." 

AARP Magazine interviewed Sheryl Sandberg about her grief and the book she wrote in their June/July 2017 issue.  Below are a few of the recommendations she has for people who are trying to heal from grief. I highly recommend her book to anyone who is suffering from grief, regardless of their age.

Recognize the Issues Which Hamper Your Recovery

Sheryl Sandberg discusses the three P's in her book.  These are beliefs which make it harder for us to heal.  It is important to acknowledge you are feeling these emotions and recognize these feelings are temporary.

Personalization - Blaming ourselves for someone else's death.  This can cause you to develop deep feelings of guilt for things which are beyond your control.

Pervasiveness - Believing that everything in your life is bleak and refusing to recognize there is anything good or positive going on in your life.  This feeling can cause you to become more fearful and worry more than you did in the past.

Permanence - The belief you will always feel as terrible as you do now.  This can cause you to isolate yourself.

Build Your Resilience

Ms. Sandberg believes that resilience is like a muscle and you can strengthen it.  You need to believe that you will be able to develop deep, close relationships in your life once again.  Your life can have meaning and you can find joy.

While it may seem impossible at first, remind yourself that you will be able to make new friends.  Don't forget to treat yourself with compassion and patience. 

In addition to what Ms. Sandberg has said about resilience, many people have found comfort when they have turned their grief into a cause.  Whether you get involved in raising money to cure the illness which killed your loved one or, like the teenagers who have survived school shootings, turn your tragedy into the energy to fight for political change, these activities can help you recover from your grief and help you become a force for good in the world.

Journaling Can Help

Researchers have discovered that writing about your feelings, both the happy and sad, can make it much easier for you to recover from the trauma of losing someone you love.  Journaling will help you find your own voice.

Give Yourself Permission to Move on With Your Life

You will never forget the people you lost.  Their memories will always be a part of your life.  It is perfectly OK to move on, however, and let yourself experience joy, laughter and have a good time with new friends.  If the person you lost was your spouse, eventually you may want to date again.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Give yourself permission to enjoy another person and remind yourself that if you loved someone deeply before, you will be able to do it again.

At the end of the AARP interview, Sheryl Sandberg said to "acknowledge the capacity of the human spirit to persevere."

If you are experiencing grief in your life, you may also want to join a grief recovery group.  Many churches and other organizations offer them.  They are useful at helping us pull ourselves together and, eventually, move on with our lives.

If you are interested in learning more about common issues as we age, including changing family relationships, common medical issues, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be published by Griffin Publishing in the fall of 2017.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Cope with Death and Grief

As we age, we all face the fact that there is a finish line looming up ahead.  At some point, we will need to not only accept our own impending death, but also the deaths of those we love.  As much as we don't like to think about these events, it can be helpful to have a better understanding of how to cope with death when the situation arises.

Recognize the Five Stages of Grief

In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed hundreds of dying patients, and used the results to write a book called "On Death and Dying." (available from Amazon).  In her landmark book, she listed what she considered the five stages of grief that most people will experience.  She learned that, while everyone will experience at least some of the stages, not everyone will experience all of them.  She also noticed that some people may spend a long time alternating between just two or three of the stages.  It may also take certain people much longer to reach the final stage of acceptance than others.

Whether you are facing your own death, or coping with the death of a loved one, it is important to understand and recognize the different stages of grief that we might be experiencing.  The stages are:

Denial -- refusing to admit that anything is wrong.

Anger -- raging against God, doctors or anything that may have contributed to the health problem.

Bargaining -- begging your Higher Power for more time; promising to change future behavior.

Depression -- feeling helpless, hopeless and despondent. 

Acceptance -- willingness to prepare for the inevitable, including finalizing plans, writing letters to those who will be left behind, talking about your good memories, etc.

Accepting the Inevitability of Death

Death is something we will all have to face at one time or another ... whether it is our own death, or that of a loved one.  Most of us will experience at least some of these stages of grief.  It is helpful to understand what we are going through, and realize that we will eventually pass through these different stages and reach acceptance, no matter how hard that may be to believe.

Once we reach the stage of acceptance, we can begin to take constructive action.  If you are the person who has been told you have a terminal disease, you may want to read my article called:

Redesigning Death - Bringing Joy to Your Final Days

This article offers a number of tips on how you can change the mood surrounding your death, so that you can make things easier for yourself and your loved ones.

If the death is that of a loved one, it can sometimes be even more difficult to reach the stage of acceptance.  The article on Redesigning Death is also a good way to open up the conversation about how to celebrate that person's life, rather than focus on their death ... as hard as that may be to think about.

If someone you care about is experiencing the death of someone they love, be patient with them and recognize that it may take some time to go through the various stages of grief.  There is no way to hurry the process.  The best things you can do for your friend is to be there for them, listen, and let them take their time processing the situation.

If you are interested in more articles of interest to Baby Boomers, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

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