When you enter into a new year, often times it’s with the ones you love surrounding you. This year, things are a bit different. With everything going on in the world, you probably won’t have the same kind of New Years you typically had in the past. Get-togethers are definitely not the same, often times with only your immediate family participating. Your loved ones in long term care facilities are unable to receive visitors, friends are unable to join in festivities, and the elderly and the “not quite-so-healthy” ones are being left out of all events and happenings in an effort to protect them. This can be quite lonely and unusual to those who are social and love gatherings and events.
If you’re like most of us, this year can’t end soon enough. It has been trying for everyone, with a lot of our neighbors struggling and small businesses closing. Whether it is the loss of a loved one or the loss of something important to you – such as losing the business you worked your entire life to build, it still hurts. Here are some ways we can cope with these strange times, and how to move forward when you’ve lost loved ones during this pandemic.
Remember the good times.
When a new year begins, some people have a hard time coming to terms with a new beginning because they feel like they are leaving their losses in the past. That is not necessarily the truth, though. While the clocks tick onward and the pages are ripped off the calendar as time passes, you may begin to heal, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ever forget. Instead, try and remember the positives. Maybe you have some good memories of the person or thing that you have lost – try and focus on those rather the how it ended.
Let yourself be sad.
It is important not to hold it inside and sometimes you just need a good cry. (Side note – crying is actually really good for you. Did you know crying releases hormones and provides emotional relief, which can actually help you heal?)
Equally important, let yourself be happy.
You shouldn’t feel guilt when you have happy moments, and it’s a pretty safe bet the one you’ve lost wouldn’t want you sad all the time. Just because you are having a good time or laughing doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten your loved one – it just means you are human. Everyone grieves differently and it’s important to understand that.
Acknowledge your losses.
To begin the healing process, you must acknowledge that the loss actually occurred and that it is real. This can be difficult to do as a lot of people face denial as one of their stages of healing. As I talked about in the last blog, there is something known as “ambiguous loss”. Ambiguous loss is when you lose something without closure or a clear understanding of why or how. When you face an ambiguous loss, sometimes you never actually acknowledge your loss because there is no proof it actually occurred. In my opinion it is one of the most difficult issues to overcome.
Take care of yourself.
Michael E. Hirsch, MD offers these tips on how to take care of yourself while grieving:
- Eat well. Try to eat healthy foods. Avoid foods that supply mostly empty calories, like candy, chips, cookies and pastries. Drink plenty of fluids, and limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks. If you’ve lost your appetite, try simple comfort foods, such as soups, mashed potatoes with chicken or meatloaf, fruit and yogurt smoothies, puddings, pasta, or foods from your childhood or cultural background. Eating small portions frequently may help, too. Take a multivitamin to cover any nutrients your diet isn’t currently supplying.
- Take necessary medications. Grief makes you more vulnerable to illness. Keep taking your regular medicines. Not everyone needs to take an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, but these drugs can be lifesaving for some people. Talk with your doctor about this, if necessary.
- Get the sleep you need. Grief is exhausting. Nap if you need to. Go to bed early if you can. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try exercising more (but not too close to bedtime). Avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine after 2 p.m., and abstain from alcohol for at least two hours before bedtime. If this isn’t sufficiently helpful, talk with your doctor. Sometimes, taking medication for a limited amount of time to help you sleep can help you cope better during the day.
- Try to exercise every day. A simple walk, a bike ride, yoga, or a harder workout can ease agitation, anger, and depression. Exercise can serve as a distraction when you need a break from grief, or offer you time to meditate on your loss. Make a date with a friend to walk a few days a week. At home or in the office, take a break to do some stretching or stair walking.
- Stop risky behavior. Dangerous coping strategies—such as drinking too much alcohol (more than one drink a day for women and two for men), abusing drugs, or engaging in impulsive or risky behavior—may blot out or numb pain temporarily. But they derail healthy grieving and can have other unwanted consequences. Substituting safer behaviors when these impulses arise—such as seeking solace with other caring people, praying, exercising, writing in a journal, or trying stress-relief techniques—will serve you better. If you are finding yourself drawn to risky behaviors, you may want to contact a grief counselor or mental health professional who can help you make healthier choices as you grieve.
Be aware that grief is never the same for any two people. There is no set amount of time that passes that someone needs to heal. Grief is not something you move on from, it is something you move on with. As time passes, it will never fully go away, but it will get easier as you learn how to live with the loss.
Please remember, if you ever need us, we are here to help 24/7 and can be reached at (928)768-5959. We have staff on hand to help out no matter the time or day. Our goal is to help you – from planning memorials or funeral services to just being an ear to listen to you when you have a bad day.
Have yourself a safe and Happy New Years from your family at Desert Lawn Funeral Home! We hope 2021 brings you and yours health and prosperity.