coping with grief.
by Gabrielle England
Grief is such a personal journey, and the landscape is
different for each of us. Yet we all know once touched by grief, the weather
changes moment by moment. The time in this land might be a short stay or it
might take years. The terrain often consists of denial, anger, fear,
loneliness, depression and regret. You might be dealing with one level of
grief, or multiple levels at a time, which can be very overwhelming.
My journey through and in grief has had multiple levels in a
very short span of time. Starting with saying goodbye to my beloved horse 3 years
ago, who had untreatable health complications at a young age, losing 10 family
and close friends, and ending toxic relationships. It has been rough seas to
say the least. Sometimes it is when you are at your most vulnerable, most
depleted that you start searching for ways to cope and change your current
state of mind. The following suggestions are things I have done and are doing
to help nurture my path through grief, my backpack of essentials, and I share
them with you.
permission to grieve.
Allowing yourself to have the space to grieve is so
important. Be gental with yourself and try not to judge, or let others judge
you. This is a personal journey, it takes time, courage and plenty of
compassion. It is easy to stuff emotions and pretend everything is alright by
keeping busy. Yet avoiding our grief tends to make it last longer. Greif needs room
to come and go like waves sometimes. Not letting grief happen can lead to
health issues such as depression, anxiety and even substance abuse. Give
yourself permission to grieve.
When you are grieving it is easy to feel overwhelmed with
emotion, and it is unnerving. Doing the simple act of breathing, by focusing on
your breath can help. The idea is to allow yourself to feel your energy, breathe
it in. On the out breath, think about opening your heart to compassion,
forgiveness and serenity. Breath in your discomfort, even have courage to fully
feel what you are avoiding. On the out breath give yourself love, compassion
and forgiveness; or any supportive opening and nurturing words that will help
you. All of us have the healing power of breath. Even if you can just pause for
3 breaths, in a time of grief that can be a big step.
Journaling allows you write down all your feelings, and get
your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. During a very dark time for me
with grief, journaling helped so much. Getting a notebook and each morning, the
first thing you do is write 3 pages of none stop longhand writing. No matter
what comes to mind, write it down. It might feel silly, stupid, relieving,
relaxing yet write it down. These pages are only for you, no one else is to
read them. After a couple months of writing, you can go back and see where you were,
and where you are now. There is no right or wrong way to write, just unload
your brain on to the page. Then move on until the next morning, and do it
again. I have been journaling for over 5 years, and at first it was a task, trying
to remember to do them. If you forget,
there is not shame, no guilt about it, just pick up where you left off. When
the habit started to feel normal, something shifted, and I started to look
forward to the pages.
Do something active.
During the grieving process, there might be times of feeling
completely lethargic, not wanting to get up, curling up into a ball, and not
having any motivation. Allowing this to linger can lead to depression. By
moving your body, even going for a walk can help. The rhythm of walking helps
us to relax, it allows us to think, to get some fresh air and release endorphins.
Physical exercise can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Walking in the
outdoors, looking at the trees, listen to the birds, look at the views, helps
give your brain a rest and can draw your focus outward. Going for a walk is an
act of self-nurturing, even if you can manage 5 minutes, that is a start. You
might also check to see if there are walking groups in your area, some are
created by people who are also going through grief. If there isn't one, maybe start
a new group on Meetup.
During my time with grief, I decided I would try meditation.
I downloaded and app on my phone, "Headspace", thought I would try it. I
appreciated how they simplified the whole process and explained it cleverly. 10
minutes a day, and I have to say, it helped. I was in a place of darkness and knew
I needed to do something to get out. Pausing for just 10 minutes was enough to
get to point my brain could rest without all the chatter. It created a space
within me, to be able to breathe again.
Another helpful teaching, was and is listening to Pema
Chodron on youtube. Pema has a very compassionate and real way of talking about
fear, anxiety, anger, regret. The video that I have gone back to repeatedly, is "Going to places that scare you", It has a wonderful way of making you feel like
you are not alone, and has a beautiful meditation, which resonates on
forgiveness, compassion and openness. I highly encourage you to listen to this
and other videos posted. Pema is a Buddhist monk, when looking for help and
understanding with grief, grief is a universal emotion.
"Someone needs to encourage us not to brush
aside what we feel. Not to be ashamed of the love and grief that it arouses in
us. Not to be afraid of pain. Someone needs to encourage us: that this soft
spot in us, could be awakened and that to do this would change our lives." -
If you have done something that helped you cope with grief, please share it with us. We would love to hear from you. Coping with Grief Reply
HOTLINES AND RESOURCES
UC Davis Pet Loss Support
Cornell University pet loss support hotline
University of Illinois pet loss helpline
Michigan State University pet loss support hotline
Tufts University pet loss support hotline
Washington State University pet loss hotline
Pet Partners--counselors, groups, websites, memorials, articles
Pet Loss and Bereavement Directory
American Veterinary Medical Association - Making the decision
Also, search "pet loss" in Search AVMA box
Argus Institute, Colorado State University--Grief Resources
California Veterinary Medical Association
HealthyPets.com (American Animal Hospital Assn.)--dealing with the loss of a pet
Animal Hospice care--American Assn. of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians
Purdue University Center for the Human-Animal Bond--pet loss and grief
Association for Pet Loss and BereavementMORE ONLINE SUPPORT:
Rainbow Bridge, Pet Loss Grief Support, Monday Candle Ceremony
Grief Support offers personal support resources, Monday Candle
Ceremony, Chat Room, ...
Lightning Strike Pet
Loss Support | Death of Pet, Sick Pet, Pet Loss ... One
of the oldest pet loss support
websites on the Internet, online since 1996. Provides help for pet lovers with
a pet loss message board, pet loss book store, ...
Pet Loss Support Coping
with grief on the death of a pet; tips on pet loss bereavement. ?Euthanasia
- ?The Final Farewell
- ?The Emotions of Pet Loss
- ?When to Get a New Pet
Washington Pet Loss Resources - Pet Loss Support Seattle: Pet Loss Support Group Seattle Animal
Shelter - 2061 15th Avenue West, Seattle WA, 98119, 206-386-PETS,
Pet Loss Support -
The College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell ... Staffed
by trained volunteer students from the College of Veterinary Medicine. Offers
hotline hours, FAQ, and links to a variety of grief resources.
Pet Loss | ASPCA It is as natural and necessary to
grieve for the loss of a pet as it is for any loved one who
dies. And it is important to have compassion and support in one's time of ...
Pet Loss Support - DoveLewis | Emergency Animal Hospital Pet Loss Support. This program
is designed to help people whose pets have passed away. It is in no way a part
of our Lost & Found Pet Database. Click here if ...
Pet Loss Support Group - City of Seattle The
loss of a pet can be very difficult. The Seattle Animal Shelter offers a Pet Loss Support Group that provides
volunteers that are here to help.
Pet Loss Support Group | Humane Society Facilitated by trained volunteers,
The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County's Pet Loss Support Group provides a safe, supportive environment
Pet Loss Grief Support
Community Resources at Rainbow Bridge Resources for emotional healing from
the death of beloved pet. Visit the Petloss chat and forum. Read
inspirational thoughts on coping with your loss.
Regardless how old our pets are, they work their way into our hearts, becoming our companions and friends. When your pet needs to be put down or passes away, it leaves an empty place in a family's setting. It isn't easy to say goodbye.
Grieving is a healthy experience that touches a person physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Don't be afraid of your grief symptoms. You have experienced a major loss. Grievers often experience anger, extreme sadness, depression, despair and jealousy of others who haven't experienced a loss. Be gentle with yourself as you go through your grief. Grief is the process of healing the wound of your loss.
Researchers have found that grieving has distinct phases:
1. The first phase is numbness, shock, denial, or a sense of unreality. Slowly, your mind will adjust to the new reality that you have lost a loved one. This is a difficult time during which thinking about or experiencing your grief may be too painful. The gift you can give to yourself during this phase is patience. You will need time to come to terms with the loss, perhaps as long as several weeks.
2. The next phase is disorganization, personal chaos, trying to adjust to the world without the company of your lost loved-one. During this phase, you become intensely aware of the reality of your loss, but would do almost anything to escape it. Strong emotion and exhaustion occurs during this stage and you may find it difficult to participate in your normal activities. The turning point in this phase comes as you gradually begin to understand the implications of your loss and figure out how return back to life without your loved one.
3. The final phase is reorganization, reconciliation, recovery, and acceptance. Although the pain of the loss remains, the unbearably quality of it lifts. Hope returns.
We know how difficult it is to lose an animal friend, because of our own loss.