August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day. Two women shared their journey of healing with us in the hopes of helping others who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
My husband died of a stroke three years ago. I cared for him for seven years as his health declined. I would like to share some thoughts with you that helped me cope with what I call, “living with the quiet.” It was painful and lonely after my husband died after 34 years of marriage. I needed to give grief a voice so I started seeing a grief support counselor and transitioned into a support group. These are things that helped me and perhaps will help you or someone you know that is grieving the loss of someone close.
- Seek help outside of family and friends. I needed to speak to others who could relate to my situation. The grief support counselors and bereaved in the grief support group provide insight and comfort.
- Participate in social groups. For seven years my caregiver’s job was 24/7 so my social life dwindled as a caregiver. Over time I decided to get more involved in new activities. Right now I volunteer as a reading tutor for second graders.
- Start a support network. Some of the individuals in the support group share phone numbers and call each other if they are feeling lonely. We also have lunch together occasionally.
- Drive yourself to social events. If you feel like leaving early, you don’t have to give a reason or inconvenience others.
- Establish new social circles. As a single person, you may not be invited to certain social events like you were when you were married. Reach out and meet new people.
- Organize memorabilia a little at a time. Three years later, I am still organizing my husband’s memorabilia bit by bit. It’s too emotional to do all at once. I have asked for help from family and friends, but some of it I just need to go through by myself.
- It’s helpful to write down my thoughts and feelings.
- Say your loved one’s name in public. I have learned that friends may be afraid to say your loved one’s name when speaking with you. They don’t want you to be sad. However, I feel people need to know that I am lonely at times. They need to know that I miss Roy, but I’m putting the building blocks of my life together one at a time.
- Find a support group that meets your needs. As new people came into the support group, which I had been attending for over 2 years, it became difficult to hear their raw emotions. I wasn’t in that stage of grief. The issues that challenged me were not the same as the people who had experienced a recent loss. Find others that can meet your needs.
I lost my husband, Jim, ten months ago after eight years of caring for him as he struggled with Parkinson’s. A few months later I reached out to others who had lost someone close to them. I joined a grief support group. No one can imagine the pain of losing the love of your life. As the one-year anniversary approaches, I am starting to relive his death.
I have found a few things that have helped me cope along the way.
- Let yourself cry. It’s important to let yourself grieve and feel the pain.
- Volunteer and participate in community activities. It’s important to keep busy and meet new people.
- Take up some new hobbies such as Tai Chi or line dancing.
- Go out to dinner with other widows and widowers. They will provide support when you need it the most.
My motto is: take it one day at a time. If you can’t do that, take it an hour at a time. If that doesn’t work, take it a minute at a time.
National Grief awareness Day is an opportunity to support those who are grieving by breaking the isolation. Grief should not be a taboo subject. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who has lost a loved one. They are aching for you to tell them it’s OK to grieve and share in their journey.
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