When we lose some-one we love it is often one of the most deeply painful life experiences there is. Here are six tips to help you take care of yourself this summer:
Pain can be physical, emotional or spiritual – whichever aspect it starts with, it will always spread to the others, so the earlier we start dealing with the pain of loss and death, the less likely it is to affect the other aspects.
(Laura Mitchell, International Stress Management Conference, 1987)
We hear about deaths everyday in the news, and we all want to believe that “it’ll never happen to me”. Of course, most of us will experience the death of someone close sooner or later.
When we do lose someone significant, it can be an earth-shattering and life-changing experience. Often, it can feel as if part of our self is missing. Life, as we have known it for so many years, has changed forever, and nothing will ever be the same again.
When it affects us personally, death comes as quite a shock and sends us ‘reeling’ into an array of emotions which can be both alarming and confusing.
There can also be a pressure on us to “move on” before we feel ready to let go, and a rush to pathologise or “label” normal, healthy reactions to our bereavement.
Each loss is a highly individual experience. There is no set timetable and no “right way” to grieve.
Holidays can often trigger grief feelings, and many people experience difficult-to-deal-with feelings. At these times it is easy to forget to take of ourselves and yet it is important that we do this. If we don’t take good care of ourselves, our immune system doesn’t work as well and we can become physically ill ourselves.
Here are six tips to help you take care of yourself this summer if you have suffered a bereavement:
- First of all, don’t let anybody tell you what to think or feel. There is no right or wrong with feelings, they just are! Allow yourself space to experience them.
- Do something different and luxurious, just for you. You could try a facial, a massage, or clear your mind with a relaxing hypnotherapy session.
- Plan ahead for any holidays away. If you’re going away with friends this year, it’s important that you all talk about your expectations and agree in advance on what you need if you feel upset, angry or anxious.
- Find a local support group. Meeting up and sharing with other people who have experienced something similar can be really helpful.
- It’s OK to laugh; laughter is truly therapeutic. Not only does it distract from the pain for a while, it also releases endorphins that give us a natural “high” – much more healthy than blocking pain with alcohol or prescribed/non prescribed drugs!
- Seek out a counsellor.
Many of us store unresolved experiences of loss and emotional wounds from the past. Sometimes our grief can be complicated by:
- Our previous experience of loss
- Not being able to say goodbye
- The traumatic circumstances of our loved one’s death.
Grief that is unresolved, brushed over or unacknowledged can cause long lasting physical and emotional problems. The pain and trauma of loss has to be held somewhere and our bodies are very good at storing these experiences. Unresolved grief can present as physical symptoms such as:
- loss of appetite,
- stomach pains,
- gastrointestinal symptoms such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- or emotional symptoms such as:
- increased anxiety.
- panic attacks
If we work through our thoughts and feelings and talk through our worries or fears about what loss means to us personally, it can help us to deal with our bereavement. Counselling offers many people the opportunity to work through the grieving process in a safe, supportive and healthy way. It is often easier to open up to someone who is not close to us personally.
Kevin from http://www.scig.co.uk/ left this kind comment, “In a short write-up you demonstrated most of the issues around suppressing emotions linked with bereavement and made some great practical suggestions”
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