What is the Stress of Grief Doing to Me?

We know that grief is a stressor for those struggling after the death of a significant person in their lives.  Dealing with the stresses of loss and grief can wear us down-physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially.  But what is stress and how serious can it be for the mourner?

Stress is a person’s physical and emotional response to change. Stress allows us to respond and adapt to our environment.  The time taken to adapt to the change determines whether the stress is:

  • Acute stress – calls for an immediate reaction to change that is judge to be threatening (stressor). Adjusting to the change takes only a short time.
  • Chronic stress – results from changes that are not addressed.       This lack of action leaves the body in a state of heightened awareness or tension.

If all stressors were acute, then stress would not be such a critical issue in modern society. People would simply respond and adjust to immediate threats, and then they would return to normal.

Unfortunately, most stressors in modern society do not allow people to respond and adjust quickly. Grief is an on-going stressor because grief is process which takes time.  You can’t rush grief and you can’t escape the stressors of loss.

Grieving the death of a person, dealing with daily job stress, ongoing financial pressures, and dysfunctional long-term relationships at home or at work usually cause chronic stress for the people experiencing them.   Living in chronic stress, the person’s body lives in a heightened state of awareness and tension, which can lead to:

  • Cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke
  • A suppressed immune system
  • Slow wound-healing
  • Herpes outbreak
  • Irritable bowel syndrome attacks
  • Decreased sex drive and impotency
  • Asthma attacks
  • Ulcers
  • Blood pressure elevations
  • Increased chronic pain
  • Psychosomatic complaints

What causes stress?

  • Life events such as divorce, loss of a loved one, birth of a child, moving, getting a new job, financial setbacks or windfalls.
  • Daily events such as traffic congestion, long commute, working overtime, deadlines, personal conflicts, car trouble, job stress, household chores, childcare.
  • Environmental stressors such as excessive noise, weather extremes.
  • Physical stressors such as physical injury, chronic pain, hunger, thirst, lack of sleep.
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Inability to adapt; lack of coping skills
  • Age – both young and old experience more stress.
  • Personality and perspective
  • IsolationWhat are the symptoms of stress?
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping too little or too much)
  • Change in eating (overeating or not eating enough)
  • Nightmares
  • Decreased interest in sex; impotency
  • Teeth grinding
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Crying over minor incidents
  • Dreading going to work
  • Headaches or stomach aches
  • Increased muscular tension in such places as the jaw, neck, back or shoulders
  • Digestive problems
  • Shallow breathing or sighing
  • Cold or sweaty palms

Remember grief and on-going stress can take it’s toll on you causing you to have a weakened immune system.  This opens mourners, especially during the first year of grief, to being susceptible to all sorts of illnesses and physical disorders.  That’s why it is a good idea to have a full physical check-up within the first six months of grief and to have regularly scheduled medical check-ups after that. Be aware of how grief and stress are affecting you and your daily performance at home, work or school.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

 

 

 

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Healthy Grief Tips for the Whole Family

After a loss, each member of a family has his or her own unique grief process.   But just as important and unique is the grief experience of the entire family unit.  Here are some of the reasons that it is important to acknowledge the needs of the family as a whole:

  • Each person in a family has functions and roles not filled by anyone else. The death of any member results in the reorganization of all relationships in the system. Roles must be shifted and the family must reorganize. This shifting takes time and strongly influences the family’s growth and character.
  • A family has its own identity. For example, the family may identify themselves as “community leaders”, “a group of practical jokers”, or “centered around the children”. When a member dies, family members often struggle to retain or redefine that identity in a way that is meaningful to them.
  • Due to different developmental levels, life circumstances, lifestyles and relationships with the deceased, grief needs differ among family members. How family members communicate about their needs can contribute either to family harmony or family conflict. An open family system acknowledges feelings openly and involves each member in decisions and events. A closed family system denies feelings and excludes some members from decisions and events. Time and effort may be needed to apply a healthy style of interacting after the impact of loss.
  • Grief and ways of expressing grief can be handed down from generation to generation. If parents have unresolved grief issues from their own childhoods, it will ripple into the lives of their own children. The family rules that a parent learned while growing up are likely to be the rules he/she models to the next generation. Family members may now practice these rules unconsciously, even if the rules are unhealthy. For example, a family who has dealt with emotions by keeping them secret and unexpressed will likely have negative results if they suppress all discussion of grief.
  • New phases of family development often result in a resurgence of family grief. Suppose, for example, that a mother of two children dies. As those children grow up and reach life milestones, such as the first piano recital or a high school graduation, the family will grieve their loss anew from their current perspective. New grief needs arise whenever we face life changes without the deceased loved one, including moves, marriages, job/career changes, births, and even later deaths.
    Here are some suggestions to help families grieve together:

  • Hold a family meeting for all interested members. Allow for open discussion of thoughts, feelings, and needs that have emerged for each person since the death. Set a ground rule that each person will listen to others without interrupting or passing judgment. Brainstorm ideas for how to memorialize, express feelings, and meet needs as a family unit.
  • Memorialize together. Collaborate on a photo album, video montage, or collection of stories in honor of the deceased. Make a copy for each family member or each branch of the family tree.
  • Create something that symbolizes the family unit’s identity, such as a “Coat of Arms”, Family Mission Statement, or Family Motto. Have plaques or some form of reproductions made so each member or subsection of the family can have one to display in their home.
  • Hold a family ritual where all family members can unite in memory of the deceased and in honor of the family’s values and history. Some examples include: a candle-lighting ceremony; an ash-scattering gathering; participating together in a walkathon to find a cure for the disease the loved one died from; making an annual donation to or volunteering as a group for a cause important to the entire family; planting a tree together in honor of the deceased and the family’s ongoing growth, even after loss.
  • Consider engaging the services of a family counselor to facilitate communication and problem-solving among family members. Remember that all families need an objective perspective sometimes. Invite members of all ages to share their perspectives and ideas.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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What Does Grief Look Like in Children and Teens?

How Young Children Grieve: Infancy through Elementary School

Often parents and adult family members believe that because their young children cannot understand death and grief on an adult level that young ones do not mourn the deaths of significant people in their lives. The truth is that if anyone is old to love, they are old enough to mourn. And with grief and the need to mourn in children of any age comes the need for security, reassurances that they are loved and will be taken care of, and freedom to express the grief emotions they are experiencing.

Talk with your children about the death and what they may be feeling in terms that are on their level of understanding. Use this information about grief in childhood and adolescence to provide a safe environment in which children feel supported and free to express their feelings without fear of judgment.

Infants and Toddlers (Birth to 2 year old)

  • Recognize absence of person despite inability to comprehend concept of death
  • Often experience insecurity, separation anxiety as result of loss and change
  • May protest by crying more than usual, becoming more irritable or demanding
  • May have changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Need more physical comforting, holding, rocking, nurturing
  • May show apathy, detachment, or withdrawal
  • May experience bladder or bowel disturbances
  • May experience temporary slowing of development or regression2 to 5 year olds
  • May initially seem unaffected by news of death (“Oh, can I go play now?”)
  • Perceive death as temporary and reversible
  • Use “magical thinking”; often create and believe magical explanations for death and fantasies about return of the deceased loved one
  • Need concrete explanations of death and its meaning (e.g. “the body stopped working”, “dead means never breathing, eating, talking, or moving again”)
  • Express confusion and emotion through art and play
  • May experience eating, sleeping, bladder, or bowel disturbances
  • May express somatic complaints (stomach aches, headaches, etc.)
  • Demonstrate “protest” in acting out behaviors (e.g. tantrums) or regression (return to bed-wetting, clinging, thumb-sucking, etc.)
  • Frequently have fears and separation anxiety following death
  • Take comfort in usual routines (meal time, play time, bedtime)
  • Deal with feelings in “approach-avoid” manner, demonstrating fleeting bouts of sadness, crying, anger, agitation
  • May openly talk about death, even to strangers
  • May talk about wanting to die to go visit deceased loved one6 to 9 year old
  • May use denial of death to cope
  • Still employ “magical thinking”, so may have difficulty understanding permanence of death at first
  • Often deal with feelings in “approach-avoid” manner, demonstrating fleeting bouts of sadness, crying, anger, agitation
  • Protest and anger shown in acting out behaviors and/or regression
  • May have difficulty expressing feelings or questions
  • Express emotion and confusion through art and play
  • Strongly attuned to grief/emotional responses of key adults in their lives; may reflect adult moods in their own moods
  • May experience intense fear of other attachment figures dying
  • School phobias and separation anxiety are not uncommon

How Older Children Grieve: Middle School through Adolescence

10 to 12 year olds

  • Better understanding of death intensifies shock and sadness responses
  • May experience school phobias and separation anxiety
  • May express somatic complaints (headaches, stomach aches)
  • May stop expressing grief to “protect” parents or siblings or to appear strong and “in control”
  • Need encouragement and opportunities to express feelings and memorialize
  • Tend to identify strongly with deceased loved one, adopting his/her habits, mannerisms, interests
  • Vulnerable to “parentification”, i.e. taking on adult roles to help grieving adult family members
  • Grief process complicated by early changes of puberty and associated developmental challenges

Adolescents

  • Grief complicated by intense challenges of adolescence (increased independence and responsibilities, physical changes, sexuality, identity development, etc.)
  • Abstract thinking skills allow more sophisticated understanding of death and spiritual issues
  • May experience fears about own mortality, or be in denial of this and try to prove immortality through reckless or risky behavior
  • May employ maladaptive behaviors to self-soothe and provide comfort (substance abuse, skipping school)
  • Commonly experience temporary decreases in school performance
  • May experience depression, guilt, and concerns about things said or left unsaid
  • Anger may manifest in tantrums, defiance, or withdrawal
  • Vulnerable to “parentification”, i.e. taking on adult roles to help grieving adult family members

    Signs of Complicated Grief in Children and Adolescents

The following signs may indicate that the grieving child or adolescent needs professional help:

  • Chronic or severe somatic symptoms (headaches, stomach aches, etc.)
  • Pronounced self-blame or guilt
  • Chronic or severe school problems, including skipping school
  • Ongoing Nightmares/sleep disturbances
  • Extreme regression (return to bedwetting, clinging, thumb-sucking, etc.)
  • Poor self-care
  • Excessive hopelessness
  • Extreme anger/hostility/violence or other extreme acting out/defiance
  • Social isolation/extreme withdrawal
  • Sudden change in friends/peer group
  • Intense separation anxieties or phobias
  • Apparent absence of grief or unwillingness to discuss the loss
  • Intense involvement in dating relationship to the exclusion of other friends or activities
  • Extreme negativity/gloom
  • Intense attraction to the topic of death, or fixation on the subject of death
  • Illegal activity/violating the rights of others
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or plans

If your child or teen continues to be having difficulties in their grief, it may be time to seek help from  bereavement professionals in individual counseling or children’s support groups.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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When Grieving Children Become Depressed

Depression can be a common occurrence during grief. In grieving adults the symptoms of this depression can be very obvious sometimes.  But with grieving children or teens, the depression is not always as obvious.  Because of their limited life experience,  life coping skills and understanding of grief and loss, grieving children experiencing depression will display that emotional state differently than adults.

Children in depression sometimes show the following symptoms

  • prolonged withdrawal
  • apathy,
  • sustained acting out (usually in anger),
  • sustained denial the death has happened,
  • crying spells,
  • rejection of surviving family members,
  • guilt and shame.

Others symptoms in depressed children and teens struggling in grief may be:

  1. Depressed mood – The child’s moods may fluctuate. They may display irritation, anxiety and/or not paying attention to adults. Things that normally held their interest are no longer of interest to them. They may avoid or escape grief by watching TV, playing video games, reading books, etc.
  2. Weight changes – If the child is overeating or has no appetite, take note.
  3. Insomnia or hypersomnia – Changes in sleeping behavior may indicate a problem especially if it goes on for more than a few nights.
  4. Psychomotor or changes in physical movements – Caregivers of children know the normal activity level of their children. If the normal activity changes—either the child is wound up all the time or unmotivated more than usual—can be an indication of depression.
  5. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and low self esteem – Listen to how the grieving child talks about him/herself, their interactions with others, and life in general. Watch for words that convey the message that “I feel guilty,” “I am horrible,” “No one likes me,” “So what?” or “What does it matter?”.
  6. Trouble focusing – The child does not appear to be thinking as clearly as before the loss. Warning signs can be: a drop in school performance, coordination difficulties in physical activities, or inability to memorize or remember.
  7. Self-destructive, hostile or risk-taking behavior – Anger for children comes out in behavior harmful to themselves and others. Hitting, throwing, screaming, pinching or extreme behavior.
  8. Being sick – Depressed children many times are sick children. Frequent stomach aches, headaches and unexplainable ailments are common in depressed children. A physician should rule out any physical causes for the problems in a thorough physical exam.
  1. Emotional overreactions – The slightest rejection or failure may send a depressed child over the edge. Enforce limitations and boundaries on the child’s behavior, but do so in a loving, comforting way.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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12 Steps to Helping Your Child in Grief

Grieving children need help, support and encouragement from all the adults around them.  Here are twelve tips to help ease the stress of grief for the child in your life:

  • Accept and respect the feelings of your children. Stress and grief often bring a wide variety of feelings including sadness, anger, loneliness, and confusion. Some feelings may be difficult to understand, such as relief, ambivalence, jealousy, and guilt, but these feelings are usually a normal part of the process
  • Remember that children think and grieve differently than adults.      Try to have expectations that take your child’s developmental level, life experience, and maturity into account, and expect the behaviors of a child not an adult.
  • Express your own feelings openly and appropriately. When you model healthy behaviors, children will follow your example. It is healthy to express yourself appropriately.
  • Communicate openly and honestly. Never lie. Children will believe what they are told, and lies can cause a lot more damage in the long run than the truth, told simply and with sensitivity to a child’s ability to understand. When details and facts are omitted, children will make assumptions based on their limited understanding of the world. These assumptions are often far from the truth and can have long lasting unhealthy consequences.
  • Answer all of your children’s questions and concerns with honest, simple answers. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know” when it is the truth.       Children will ask what they need to know when they need to know it. Providing honest facts will instill trust and security that may help children cope with an otherwise insecure or unpredictable situation.
  • Allow your children to express feelings in their own ways and at their own pace. Encourage, but don’t pressure, children to share on an ongoing basis, for as long as it takes. Allow for many kinds of expressions, including verbal, written, art, and play.
  • Maintain routines and consistency as much as possible. This will help children to feel more secure in a situation in which many changes have taken place or may continue to take place
  • Keep discipline fair, reasonable, and age-appropriate. Be watchful of how stress increases reactivity, and don’t take emotions out on children.
  • Do not change the rules. Set limits and keep them as much as realistically possible so that children know what is expected of them. Help children manage their behaviors under stress by enforcing clear and reasonable boundaries.
  • Balance discussion of the past with awareness of the present.       Allow children to talk as much as necessary about how things used to be, but also recognize that life is continuing in the present. Allow a forum for discussion about the ways things are now and how they may be in the future.
  • Show your children how important they are. Set aside time to have one-to-one, uninterrupted interactions with each child. Don’t create additional losses for the children by becoming unavailable yourself.
  • Be patient!  Grieving children may act out because of feelings of insecurity or abandonment, to provoke limit–setting, to externalize their grief feelings, or to try to protect themselves from future losses.  Patience, understanding, and caring boundary-setting will help children work through feelings and return to appropriate behaviors more quickly.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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Tips for Your First Year in Grief

The first year of grief can be extremely difficult for the mourner because there are so many “firsts” without the loved one present.  Each special day can become a painful reminder of the loss.  Here are some practical tips for the mourner trying to navigate through that first year of birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and family gatherings without a loved one physically present.

  • You are not alone, and you should not try to do your grief on your own and by yourself.  You can ask for help & support without feeling guilty.
  • Neither love for the missing person nor grief take a vacation or the day off. Don’t try to put your grief on hold even for special observances.  Your need to grieve in healthy ways continues.
  • Talk about your grief. Be with those who will listen, support & not judge you. You have an ongoing need to remember your loved one in meaningful and healing ways.
  • Be patient with yourself. Realize your limitations.  Don’t overdo.
  • Eliminate unnecessary stress.  Grief is stressful enough without adding new stresses or obligations for yourself.
  • Do what is right for you during the special day(s).  Explain to others what your plans are for the special observances & holidays.
  • Plan ahead for the day.  And if the plan doesn’t appear to be working, go directly into Plan B.
  • Embrace the memories of your loved one.
  • Remember the dread of the special day is usually worse than experiencing the day itself.
  • Honor your loved one in a meaningful way.
  • Communicate with others.  Don’t suffer in silence.  Occasional time in solitude can be helpful, but withdrawing from others in your grief only adds to your stress and pain.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you don’t ask for what you need, you will probably not get it.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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5 Resolutions That Will Help Mourners Around You

You can be a better comforter to your grieving friends and family members this year by:

  • Being more aware of the person’s situation and needs.  This resolution obligates you to be more deeply involved in the lives of your friends and family members.  Otherwise how would you know their life or loss situation and address their deepest needs for support, comfort and encouragement?
  •  Being more present in the person’s life.  This resolution takes a concerted or “intentional”  effort to be there for the person–physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Don’t hover or try to orchestrate their grief.  Just be there and available for the person.
  • Being more active in the person’s life.  This resolution means going beyond just offering to be there if they need anything. (If you ever need anything, just call me.  Heard or said that one before?)  Put yourself in their shoes and do for them what would be helpful to you under the same circumstances.  Your helpful action can be something as simple as doing their lawn, cleaning their home, helping them with shopping or babysitting their children to give them a break.
  • Being their advocate.  This resolution means doing all you can to encourage, support and comfort the mourner….and recruiting others to do the same.
  • Being their prayer warrior.  Go to God often on behalf of your grieving friend and family member, their loved ones and yourself. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16b)

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

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Children, Grief & the Holidays

Following the death of a loved one, there are many firsts. One of the most difficult firsts can be the holidays or special days for the family.  The following are some thoughts on how to help your family cope through the holiday season.

Caring for Grieving Children

  1. Prepare children for changes in routine. It is perfectly acceptable to make changes in holiday routines, perhaps even preferable, but remember to prepare children well in advance for changes to holiday traditions.
  2. Include children and teens in planning. A family meeting to decide what changes will be appropriate for celebrating the holidays can alleviate a child’s feeling of being left out.
  3. If a child appears to need extra reassurance during the holidays, remember they may have feelings of sadness, guilt, etc. that they are struggling with.
  4. Children may “regress” (find comfort in earlier behaviors) during the stress of the holidays.
  5. Children need opportunities to express their feelings and fears. Plan a ritual for remembering your loved one around the holiday season.
  6. Plan some extra time to spend one to one with your children during the holidays.
  7. Don’t let the world dictate your schedule

Caring for Yourself

  1. You are the best one to know what you need for caring for yourself. Be kinder to yourself than you have ever been during the holiday season.
  2. There is no right or wrong way to grieve OR to spend the holidays. Choose activities or solitude based on your needs.
  3. Watch out for over commitment during the holidays. Say “no.”
  4. Treat yourself.
  5. Give yourself credit for accomplishing the “firsts” as they come along.
  6. Be with people you want to spend time with. Say “no” to those you feel would need more energy than you have to give.

Remember Your Loved One

  1. Buy a gift for your loved one. Give it to someone who needs it. You will receive twice the pleasure. (This may be too difficult for someone whose loss is recent.)
  2. Donate money to a special cause in your loved one’s name or volunteer your time and/or talents.
  3. Contribute a poinsettia to your church sanctuary (or to a local nursing home or school) in your loved one’s name.
  4. Talk about the deceased with those you are comfortable sharing.
  5. Plan a time for remembering. Set a place for them at the table, hang a stocking, retell stories of them.

Anniversary Dates

  1. An anniversary of the death of a loved one can cause anxiety and stress, which are normal grief reactions.
  2. Give yourself permission to feel your own feelings about the day and plan how you want to spend your time.
  3. Remember that anticipation is sometimes worse than going through the actual day.
  4. Don’t allow others to dictate the extent to which you observe the day.

 

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

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7 Essential Principles About Relationships

When life ends for someone we love, our priorities can change.  Suddenly once was important is trivial now.  Also things we once took for granted become very important to us.  One of those important things in life is relationship.  We hopefully come to realize that the important things in life are not things.  The important “things” are people and our relationships with them.

Here are seven principles to remember about relationships that can be life-changing:

  1. Relationships are God-given because God knows it’s not good for us to be alone.
  2. God gives us the possibility of relationship with everyone who comes into our lives. Some relationships last a short time, some last a long time, and the most important relationships are eternal.
  3. Every person who comes into your life can teach you something if you are open to learning.
  4. No relationship with another person will meet all your needs. People will disappoint and hurt you.
  5. There are no mind readers in your earthly relationships. You have to talk openly with others to make relationships function successfully.
  6. When people change, relationships can change.
  7. You’re here for other people, not the other way around.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

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5 Signs of Getting Better in Grief

Here are five indications that we mourners may be healing in our grief:

Our sense of humor returns
Suddenly we are smiling, laughing & experiencing joy in life. Our old mood swings don’t go as low as they used to. We can feel the time lengthen between our highs and lows.

The way we talk about our loved one changes
We begin to focus on our memories of loved ones with joy & laughter rather than sadness & crying. We focus more on the life of the loved one rather than their death & our loss.

Our social activities change
We “return to life” by renewing relationships and/or beginning new ones. We build a support system that assists us in reconciling ourselves to life without our loved one.

We display confidence & hope for the future
We learn we have the choice of how we respond to grief & how we live our lives. We begin to heal, grow & hope for the future. We realize that there are things to look forward to each day of our life.

We maintain our relationship with the loved one in a new way
We understand that our relationship cannot exist as it used to. But we also realize our relationship with the loved one has not ended with death. We maintain our spiritual & emotional ties to the person.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

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