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Practical suggestions for dealing with loss

Published: March 1, 2015

 
 
Rely on friends: Do not hesitate to let others help if they offer to do so and you can really use some assistance. Understand that it may be their way of showing you how they feel; perhaps they cannot find the right words..
 
Take care of your health: Grieving can wear you out, especially in the beginning. Your body needs sufficient rest, healthful exercise, and proper nourishment more than ever. A periodic checkup by your family doctor might be in order.
 
Postpone major decisions: If possible, wait for at least some time until you are thinking more clearly before you decide such things as whether to sell your house or to change your job.  One widow recalled that several days after her husband died, she gave away many of his personal possessions. Later, she realized that she had given away mementos she treasured.
 
Be patient with yourself: Grief often lasts longer than people in general realize. Yearly reminders of the lost loved one may renew the pangs. Special pictures, songs, or even smells can trigger the tears. One scientific study of bereavement explained the grief process as follows: “The bereaved may swing dramatically and swiftly from one feeling state to another, and avoidance of reminders of the deceased may alternate with deliberate cultivation of memories for some period of time.”
 
Make allowances for others: Try to be patient with others. Realize that it is awkward for them. Not knowing what to say, they may clumsily say the wrong thing.
 
Beware of using medication or alcohol to cope with your grief: Any relief offered by drugs or alcohol is temporary at best. Medication should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision. But be careful; many substances are addictive. In addition, these may delay the grieving process. A pathologist warns: “The tragedy has to be endured, suffered and eventually rationalized and to retard this unduly by knocking out the [person] with drugs may prolong or distort the process.”
 
Get back into a regular routine: You may have to push yourself at first to go to work, to go shopping, or to take care of other responsibilities. But you may find that the structure of your normal routine will do you a lot of good. Keep busy in Christian works.
 
Do not be afraid to let go of acute grief: Strange as it may seem, some bereaved ones are afraid to let go of the intense grief, believing that it may indicate their love for the deceased one is diminishing. That simply is not the case. Letting go of the pain makes way for treasured memories that will no doubt always remain with you.
 
Do not be unduly anxious: You may find yourself worrying, ‘What will become of me now?’ The Bible counsels to take one day at a time. “Living more on a day-to-day basis really helps me,” explains one widow. Jesus said to his disciples: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.”
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