Grieving or stressed? Plenty of help available
My son, Adam, just turned 6 years old. His sweet nature is to freely display his loving heart. Adam reflects the close bonds of our family, and in some ways he does so more authentically than anyone else in our clan.
He fondly, tenderly and sincerely speaks of missing family members who are not living in Grand Junction, and even more poignantly describes how much he misses those who have passed on. Shortly after turning 5, my son lost one of the most powerful and loving forces in his life, his Papa.
One evening last week, coming up on one year since my dad’s passing, I was driving home from work and reflecting upon how our family seems to be doing a bit better after losing our patriarch.
However, later that evening, while I sat at my computer writing this column, I was humbly reminded how much the grief is still as strong as ever. Adam called me back into his room for what I thought would be another tuck-in before drifting off to sleep.
Instead, he had made a shrine honoring Papa by covering one of his treasure boxes with a flag (given to Adam to honor my husband’s late father) with Papa’s police badge carefully placed at the corner of the flag. He then fell into a puddle on his bed, sobbing again about how much he misses Papa. We cried together — again.
Experiencing grief extends beyond the loss of a loved one. In fact, any loss can cause grief, including (but not limited to) a broken relationship, loss of health, abuse, losing a job or financial stability, a miscarriage, changing careers, moving from a family home or retirement.
Often, grief may be temporarily hidden by feelings of shock and disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger and fear.
Psychologist Paula King notes that folks in emotional turmoil from grief (or experiencing other significant stress) can respond to that grief in a variety of ways. They can become numb, perhaps through addiction of one form or another, thereby choosing to not fully engage in life. Or they can use the challenges (often unexplainable by reason as to why the challenges exist) to learn, grow and feel a natural range of emotions. Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.
My son and I are so blessed. We have each other, our other family members, and some pretty amazing friends to lean on in this time of deep mourning.
Thankfully, each of us has chosen to live fully in life, trying to find a new way through life with our grief-stricken hearts weighing heavily. Not everyone has such terrific support.
However, no matter how strong a support system we have from family or friends, multiple resources are available to those who are suffering. It is sometimes simply a matter of finding them. Knowing they exist can help.
Mental health counselor Leslie Kittle offers some tips to use when feeling grief or significant stress:
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having support from others. Even if you are not comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it is important to express them when you are grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden easier to carry and connecting to others will help you heal. Ideas for finding support after a loss include turning to friends and family members, drawing comfort from your faith, joining a support group and talking with a therapist or grief counselor. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
When you are grieving, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Honoring your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.
Give yourself time to grieve, to acknowledge what has happened and to heal. Be kind to yourself, get enough sleep, eat well and accept support with everyday tasks if you think it will help. It is also helpful to set smaller and more realistic goals rather than taking on a bigger project or challenge.
■ Homeopathy — One of the most powerful tools to help those stuck in the grief process is homeopathy. There is no one homeopathic remedy that is universal for grief. Classical homeopath Joseph Ellerin states that “homeopathy treats grief by selecting the remedy that best matches the experience of the patient.”
■ Counseling/life coaching — It is common to hear patients say they “should” and do have what it takes to sort through such challenging times without professional help.
However, no matter how enlightened we are, learning coping mechanisms and talking through challenges energetically shifts the body and the emotional state.
Furthermore, the process can most certainly strengthen our natural inner strength and increase the efficiency of the healing process. Getting help to sift through the range of emotions associated with grief is not a weakness; it’s more a sign of resilience and strength. Psychological therapy can support people to safely explore feelings of grief and connect with painful feelings and memories, paving the way for resolution.
■ Acupuncture — Severe grief can cause stagnation of our body’s energy. Acupuncture can help move the qi in such a way that provides relief. While we tend to think of grief as a strictly emotional process, grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, and insomnia. Acupuncture can significantly help those conditions and more.
Understanding and educating each other about support resources seems timelier than ever as tragedy and resulting grief and confusion from suicide continues to strike our wonderful community. The sense of profound loss and concern can be sensed in nearly every corner. This disturbing trend has our community asking how to help those suffering. When a person takes his or her own life, it only perpetuates the pain and suffering for survivors.
Dr. April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine and a licensed acupuncturist. She has been practicing in Grand Junction since 2004 and is an expert and leader in integrative and collaborative medicine. Learn more at hhacumed.com, or call Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions at 256-8449.