Grieving? Don’t overlook potential side effects of your Grief

Stress and grief

Grieving takes a toll on the body in the form of stress. “That affects the whole body and all organ systems, and especially the immune system,” Dr. Malin says. Evidence suggests that immune cell function falls and inflammatory responses rise in people who are grieving. That may be why people often get sick more often and use more health care resources during this period.

But why is stress so hard on us? It’s because the body unleashes a flood of stress hormones that can make many existing conditions worse, such as heart failure or diabetes, or lead to new conditions, such as high blood pressure or heartburn. Stress can also cause insomnia and changes in appetite.

Extreme stress, the kind experienced after the loss of a loved one, is associated with changes in heart muscle cells or coronary blood vessels (or both) that prevent the left ventricle from contracting effectively. It’s a condition called stress-induced cardiomyopathy, or broken-heart syndrome. The symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack: chest pain and …

Grief Help: Couple opens grieving room in honor of stillborn daughter Jane

WINNETKA, Ill. — Bob and Berkley Wellstein were thrilled to be expecting their first child. The baby’s room was ready. They had the crib and the clothes.

And then, one day in the 32nd week of an easy pregnancy, Berkley noticed that her baby hadn’t been moving. She tried lying on her side. She had some sugar. Then she went to the hospital for an innocent-sounding “reassurance check,” only to learn that medical staff could not detect a heartbeat. The Wellsteins’ daughter, Jane, had died in utero in a rare accident in which the umbilical cord becomes wrapped tightly around the baby’s neck.

“It was just complete destruction. It was devastation,” Bob Wellstein said of the loss seven years ago.

But even as the Wellsteins left the hospital with Jane’s footprints and a snip of her bright blond hair, the Winnetka couple knew that their little girl’s story wasn’t over. They wanted to do something to honor her and to help other parents who experience similar losses, including miscarriages and newborn deaths. Within a year of Jane’s death in January 2012, they’d opened the first Jane’s Room — a comfortable, homelike space for grieving parents and family members — at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago. On Thursday, Jan. 17, the newest Chicago-area Jane’s Room was unveiled at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

8 Ways to support a woman after she’s had a miscarriage

Acknowledge they are parents

Even if the miscarried child was their only pregnancy, that couple is still a mother and a father. Schwob says it’s important to “Validate the child as a precious life and acknowledge the mothers and fathers.”

Many mothers who miscarry feel like a failure. They feel guilt, thinking they could have avoided it somehow if only they’d been more aware of what was happening or taken care of their bodies in a different way. Schwob says, “Pregnant women immediately start planning and their nature is to protect that child. It’s a common thought that they have failed to do their job.” The feeling of guilt is common but it doesn’t make it true. Fathers have a hard time, too, because they cannot “fix” the problem. Help families grapple with guilt and understand that they aren’t failures.

Simply because the baby had a shorter life doesn’t mean mom and dad didn’t love their little one with all their heart. The grief process isn’t shorter and there should be no expectations for the couple to get over it, move on, and forget about the miscarriage. We can help by encouraging them to …

Don’t hide your grief from children. Grief can help bring you closer

…but like a great number of mothers (and fathers) after a bereavement, it wasn’t long before I attempted to pull myself together and go back to normal. And although at the heart of this was a desire to protect my daughter from my grief, I ended up distancing myself, creating a strained, unhealthy atmosphere. My understandable worry over the effect on her of what she’d seen made me cautious and reticent. It was as though we were communicating through glass, and the result was that I was no longer present as a mother in the way she needed me to be.

It’s impossible to be the parent you were after someone you love dies, because you aren’t the same person. But how do we explain this to our children? Death is one thing. But revealing your vulnerability too? This can feel irresponsible and unfair…

Dealing with Grief during Christmas & the holidays

Following the loss of someone close leaves a certain trepidation of days to come … birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, will never be the same. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s can be some of the most difficult and challenging times.

Holidays are meant to spend time with those we love the most — sharing love, food, creating memories and laughter. So, how are we “celebrate” when those that we love the most will not be with us? It isn’t easy and for many people, it is the most difficult part of grieving and the time when we miss our loved ones even more.

How do we celebrate being together when there is an empty place at the table? Our sadness seems sadder, our loneliness is unfathomable and you just don’t feel like celebrating. How do we handle it? We face it head on. It is not really the grief we are trying to avoid, it is the pain that comes from it. Remember, grief is our internal feelings and mourning is our external expressions…

AllProDad: 6 Worst Things to Say to Someone Grieving

It’s okay, we all struggle with this. But grief is real and we can do better. We lose parents, we lose wives, and sometimes, we even lose our children. No judgment here, just some encouragement to be there for our brothers, and to swap out fear and distance for some grace and compassion. Take a few moments to think about the following list – along with some positive suggestions – of the six worst things to say to someone who has experienced loss:

1. Nothing

Saying nothing won’t work, because it’s important to acknowledge the loss, and it’s important to be there. If there’s nothing else to say, simply say, “I’m sorry.”   Read the rest