Dealing with loss of family and friends

    Loss of family and friends will always have some level of impact on each of us with respect to emotional and physical well-being. I've lost track of how many friends and family that I have lost. It is more than all of my fingers and toes put together. Just about 20 years ago we lost my mom and it was pretty rough. I tend not to be outwardly emotional right away when I lose someone. 

Man kneeling at grave.
    Through the years I learned to recover from different situations that caused me depression, anxiety, fear, sorrow, and many of the negative emotions many of us have when we lose someone or even break up from a relationship. I’ve learned some of my patterns of recovering from loss come from Gray (n.d.) who wrote many books on dating, relationships, love, loss, and more. For today’s topic, I drew from his books to cope with the loss of my mom. But the reason I read the first book of his, “Mars and Venus, Starting Over” was to deal with the divorce from my ex-wife. There will be sets of emotions you need to work through and each one may block the other emotion from being realized (Gray, n.d.) The pattern is repeated in many of his books.

    The reason I thought to draw the parallel was due to the similarities of loss. I highly recommend reading any and all of the books written by Gray (n.d.)


    Dealing with the death of a family member is a deeply personal and emotional experience, and everyone's grieving process is unique. However, here is a general summary of how one might approach coping with such a loss:


1. Allow Yourself to Grieve: Understand that it's natural to feel a range of emotions, from sadness and anger to confusion or even numbness. Give yourself permission to feel and express these emotions without judgment. And sometimes you will also be blocked from feeling emotions, I tend to not feel grief until I am alone.


2. Seek Support: Surround yourself with loved ones or consider joining a support group. Talking about your feelings can help in the healing process. If needed, consider seeking professional counseling or therapy. I have heard mixed reviews on Weather talking about your feelings with your partners or significant others helps you more than speaking to a third party such as a counselor. My experience is that counselor-based conversations will be impartial to a degree and bring about clearer insights. 


3. Remember Your Loved One: Celebrate their life by sharing stories, looking at photos, or participating in memorial activities. This can help keep their memory alive and provide comfort. Recently, my step-father passed, and the viewing and funeral were held at the church. This was very peaceful, and the experience was quite different than that of a funeral home. 


4. Establish a Routine: While it's okay to take some time off, getting back to a routine can provide a sense of normalcy and purpose. I often get back to routine after I catch up on sleep. Also, catching up on housework is another item that can fall into disarray while grieving. 


5. Take Care of Yourself: Ensure you're eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity. Avoid using alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. Adequate water intake also helps with sleep, according to Rosinger Ay et al. (2019), in a study writes that water as measured by urine specific gravity was lower in subjects who slept less than 8 hours, suggesting that more water and lower urine specific gravity resulted in longer amounts of sleep. 


6. Accept Your Feelings: Understand that grief doesn't have a set timeline. Some days might be harder than others, and that's okay. One of the better ways I’ve found to accept feelings is to realize that there are things we cannot control in our lives. And that loss is part of our existence. We could tailor how we raise our children and family to understand loss at an earlier age, to the outcome of having a family that can handle the stress of loss more easily.


7. Seek Meaning: Some people find comfort in spiritual or religious beliefs, while others may seek purpose through volunteer work or other meaningful activities. Connecting with God, prayer, family, community, and meditation are indeed the activities I try to engage in when I’ve experienced loss. 


8. Avoid Making Hasty Decisions: Give yourself time before making any significant life changes. I tend to get numb after a loss, and making decisions during this time makes me prone to errors and mistakes. Caution and guidance from others is my saving grace. 


9. Remember It's Okay to Move On: Moving forward doesn't mean forgetting. It's okay to find happiness and enjoy life while still cherishing the memory of your loved one. Celebrating their life is a good way to process emotions from loss. As dwelling on the missing part of your life will only lead to more depression and grief. Spreading the frequency of grief and sadness among the happiness brings about a better outcome emotionally, in my opinion. 


10. Seek Professional Help if Needed: If you find it challenging to cope, or if your grief is affecting your daily life, it may be beneficial to see a therapist or counselor who specializes in grief and loss. I personally talk to a counselor every week, for reasons of depression and resolving issues that bother me. Also to make sure I’m not lapsing into the deeper depression I had after the cancer and heart attack. 


Remember, everyone's journey through grief is different, and it's essential to find what works best for you.


References


Gray, J. (n.d.). Shop relationship, dating, success, and wellness books by John Gray. Marsvenus. Retrieved October 31, 2023 from https://www.marsvenus.com/books


Rosinger Ay, Chang, A., Buxton, O., Li, J., Wu, S., & Gao, X. (2019). Short sleep duration is associated with inadequate hydration: Cross-cultural evidence from US and Chinese adults - PubMed. Sleep. Retrieved November 02, 2023 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30395316/ 

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