Oh to be a stone! To feel no grief!
The Greek dramatist, Euripides, wrote these words 400 years before the birth of Christ. Grief is the price of love. When we love someone and they die, we feel the pain of grief. However, there are steps we can take that may ease the stress and hasten our recovery.
Here are some tips that can help the bereaved on their journey through grief:
- Go back to work. If you had a job, return as soon as possible. Work is a healthy distraction from the pain of loss. If you were not in the workplace, find a job.
- Stay fit. Exercise can help you both physically and emotionally because activity provides an outlet for stress.
- Enroll in a class. Not only does taking a class provide you with a healthy diversion from grief but it also can supply practical knowledge for improving the quality of your life.
- Be good to yourself. Do not hesitate to treat yourself to something you truly enjoy.
- Take some time to write down a list of things that bring you pleasure such as displaying a vase of fresh flowers, gardening, leisurely reading a newspaper, etc. Then, try to engage in at least one of these activities daily.
- Volunteer your time. Another effective way to get out of the house and provide some grief relief is through volunteering. Local community groups or museums and historic sites always welcome people who can spare some time to support their activities.
- Talk about your grief with a friend. Expressing and exploring your feelings with a trusted friend is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Talking helps relieve the pressure, brings you perspective, and keeps you in touch with others. Cry when you feel like it.
- Read practical articles and books about grief. Reading about bereavement is an excellent way to find your way through this difficult, uncharted experience. (This Web site lists many publications that offer advice on how to cope with grief.)
- Guide your thinking. According to Laurence G. Boldt, author of Zen Soup: "Thoughts,' as Emerson put it, 'rule the world' for the simple reason that thoughts determine feelings and actions. We can think ourselves into happiness or a deep depression. We can think ourselves into health or illness. If we only take care of our thoughts, our feelings and actions will take care of themselves."
- Cultivate hope on a daily basis. When the days seem too long, the nights endless and hope a distant memory, rinse your mind and fortify your spirit by reflecting on words of hope. Though your journey through grief may seem dark, the light of recovery will break through.
Most survivors will find solace in these suggestions. But if you feel that your grief is overwhelming your life, ask your family funeral director for the name of a local bereavement counselor who can guide you through resolving your feelings of sadness and loss.
(Material in this column was excerpted (with permission) from an article authored by Victor M. Parachin, a National Funeral Directors Association grief educator and minister.)