People die. This is a fact of life, a sad fact, but nonetheless a fact of life. Yet, as certain as we are that death will be part of our life sometime in the future, we never seem to be prepared for this loss. There is no easy answer for coping with the loss of a loved one. According to the USAA Educational Foundation, your ability to cope with the loss of a loved is based on several factors, including:
• Your personality and coping skills.
• Your cultural and religious background.
• The individual you have lost.
• How the loss affects you.
• How much support you have.
The primary thing to remember is that recovering from a loss of a loved one is a process that takes time. Some may find it easier to move on with their lives, while others may find it more difficult.
For most of us, the loss of a loved one results in two forms of grief: anticipatory or complicated. Anticipatory grief results when you are waiting for someone to die after a long illness, whereas complicated grief results when the loss is sudden, as in a suicide or auto accident.
Grief can manifest itself in many forms, such as anger, fear, loneliness, mood swings, insomnia, loss of memory and even physical issues (such as hair loss). Many people seek the assistance of trained counselors, clergy or support groups to help cope with their loss.
Each of us deals differently with loss, but rest assured, we all must deal with it. We need to give it the appropriate amount of time to recover and keep our expectations for recovery reasonable.
The article “When a Loved One Dies: Coping with Grief,” by the USAA Foundation, points out the following four steps of recovery:
1. Maintain healthy routines. Get plenty of sleep, don’t attempt to reduce the pain of your loss by using drugs or alcohol, exercise regularly (every day if possible) and eat well.
2. Maintain Recognize emotional needs. Talk about your feelings with someone and write a journal about your emotions. Do things you enjoy. Begin to plan your life, not just react to it.
3. Accept Accept help. Let folks know you would enjoy a homemade meal occasionally. Accept offers for car pooling or child care. Allow others to take you to doctor’s appointments and sit with you while you talk about your feelings. Accept the fact that others want to help you, just as you would want to help others in need.
4. Move Move forward. Find the way back to “normal.” Allow yourself to help others in need and realize that you will get past this initial grief and move forward with your life.
Once you understand what to expect when a loss occurs in your life, you will be better equipped to handle the grief that follows. It may not reduce the time it takes you to work your way through your grief, but it will allow you to make more sense of the entire process.
On Sept. 20 the Eagle County Paramedic Service, Eagle County Human Health and Colorado Mountain College will be holding the ninth annual Senior Health Fair at the Colorado Mountain College location in Edwards. This year, there will be a panel of specialists speaking. Topics include:
• Conservative low back pain management and prevention.
• Chronic pain management with spine stimulators and DBS treatments for Parkinson’s and essential tremor.
• Balance and subjects related to podiatry.
• Physical therapy and techniques that lend to greater strength and stability.
This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn, ask questions, and find resources.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.