How To Get Through Unexpected Grief

Grief Continues at Unexpected Times

I was traveling for work when the call came in — my dad wasn’t going to make it through the night. The world fell away, like everything was loud and silent at the same time. Nothing would ever be the same.

I didn’t have time to get to the airport. I didn’t have time to see him one last time.

I didn’t have time.

My mind floated back to the conversation I had with my dad six weeks prior. He called to tell me he’d been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. It felt like my body had been invaded with a mix of anger, anxiety, fear, and call to service that I didn’t even know was possible. All I could do at that moment was cling to his every word.

But now, at this moment, there were no words left.

This is the unexpected moment I was prepared for, even though I would never be ready for it. I knew grief would strike me when my dad passed. I knew that there would be a period of my life that I wanted to shut the world out to process my emotions. But there was so much to the grieving process I didn’t expect…

How do I deal with the death of a spouse?

This question was posed to Cathy Novaky, Ph.D., an outpatient clinician for Behavioral Health Services at Altantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center.

Q: My husband died last year, and my family seems to have dealt with it and moved on. But I’m still missing him every day. Is that wrong?

A: First, let me say that I’m sorry for your loss. It’s only one year since you lost your husband. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re grieving. How we experience grief is as individual as we ourselves are. Personal factors like coping style, life experiences, faith and the depth of the loss all contribute to how grief affects you. Common symptoms of grief include shock, disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, loneliness and fear. Some people lose motivation or try to isolate themselves. Physical symptoms like fatigue, weight change, aches and pains and insomnia may occur as well. Keep in mind, any of these could be considered a reasonable response to loss.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, no timetable, no specific steps you need to go through. Most people are familiar with the Kubler-Ross “Five Stages of Grief:” denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, you do not have to go through each stage to heal, and some people don’t go through any of them.

The most important message for healing from grief is to recognize what’s happening, be patient with yourself, and reach out for support. Don’t try to escape the pain with self-medication like drinking or diving into work or TV; try to acknowledge that you’re suffering from loss and accept that it’s natural, even though it doesn’t feel comfortable. I usually tell my patients that our pain in loss represents the respect and caring we feel toward the lost one, and it honors them and what they brought to our lives. Missing your husband shows how important he was, and still is, to you.

Take care of yourself. Be patient with the roller coaster of emotions. Treat yourself to healthy food and …

Read the rest of how do I deal with the death of a spouse below:

A Neuroscientist used his Research to Heal from Grief using This

Our brain on gratitude

Neuroscientist Glenn Fox has dedicated his life to studying gratitude — how it improves our resilience, lowers stress, and boosts overall health. He’s an expert on the ability of gratitude to help us through tough times.

But on Thanksgiving in 2013, Fox was feeling anything but grateful. That’s because, just a few days before, he’d lost his mother to ovarian cancer.

Your brain on gratitude: How a neuroscientist used his research to heal from griefThe day after, going down to Starbucks for coffee and some pastries, “it was like the most intense experience ever. And I just thought, how am I even going to get through this? How am I even going to order?”

Fox was just months away from completing his Ph.D. on the neural bases of gratitude. He knew from his research how therapeutic gratitude can be — and how it could help him in his long journey recovering from grief. What he didn’t know was how to make that happen on a practical level.

“I thought, you know, I really need to put this into action,” he said. “I don’t want to be flattened by this forever. I don’t want this to define me.”

Jealous of the Angels – read this beautiful poem

Fox’s personal journey into the power of gratitude began after his mother’s diagnosis with stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was interested in his work, but also interested in how it could help her…

“Gratitude fits into a category of what we would call pro-social emotions, and these are emotions that orient us towards the welfare of others,” Simon-Thomas said. “It creates this kind of bond, this enduring sense of connection, with another person or another organism who we’re poised to cooperate with.”

That cooperation, Simon-Thomas said, has been key to our survival as a species.

Learn more about healing with gratitude:

Jealous of the Angels

I didn’t know today would be our last
Or that I’d have to say goodbye to you so fast
I’m so numb, I can’t feel anymore
Prayin’ you’d just walk back through that door
And tell me that I was only dreamin’
You’re not really gone as long as I believe
There will be another angel
Around the throne tonight
Your love lives on inside of me,
And I will hold on tight
It’s not my place to question,
Only God knows why
I’m just jealous of the angels
Around the throne tonight
You always made my troubles feel so small
And you were always there to catch me when I’d fall
In a world where heroes come and go
Well God just took the only one I know
So I’ll hold you as close as I can
Longing for the day, when I see your face again
But until…

Source: LyricFind

Michigan Mom starts podcast for grieving parents

A Grand Rapids [Michigan] mother couldn’t find a podcast focused on losing a child, so she started her own.

Dr. Marcy Larson’s 14-year-old son, Andy, died in a car crash on Aug. 15, 2018. The family was on US-131 near the West River Drive exit when their van was rear-ended.

As she wrote on her website titled Always Andy’s Mom, Larson found it nearly impossible to get through a book about grief.

Larson is a pediatrician and her husband is an anesthesiologist. He has a podcast focused on health care, so Larson hoped there would be one that could help her grapple with the debilitating grief.

“Because I really couldn’t find one, I just decided it’s up to me to start one….

More:

Grief Help: Using Writing to Help Us Process Our Sorrow

Using Writing to Help Us Process Our GriefEight months after John died, Neustadter started sending emails to his old Yahoo address, because “communicating with John was truly the only thing I wanted to do at that time,” she said. It gave her a way to keep the conversation alive.

“And it felt symbolic and ritualistic to send an actual letter out somewhere into the unknown,” Neustadter said.

Neustadter also used writing to make sense of John’s suicide—why did he turn to suicide? what signs did she miss? She wrote down everything about John that she could remember.

Writing gave Neustadter “some sense of purpose.” She wanted to write the book she wished she’d had: “a book about a young woman, effectively widowed at 29, struggling to make sense of the loss of her soul mate and why he took his life. There were a lot of parts to this, and I had a lot of questions. None of the books on grief that I found helped me with understanding how to navigate my loss.”

“If I could offer other women (or men) like myself a book that made them feel less alone and helped them navigate through traumatic grief, then maybe, just maybe, it would make my experience of John’s death worthwhile in some way.”

More on this Grief Help….

Grieving? How to Heal Yourself

One of life’s most difficult challenges is dealing with grief, the feeling of sadness over the loss of someone or something significant. Although grief is normal, the pain can be overwhelming, and the sorrow so profound that it defies description. You wonder if you can ever heal yourself.

The most common causes of grief are the death of a loved one, divorce or breakup, diagnosis of a grave illness, and loss of a job. You’ll experience a plethora of emotions, such as anger, despondency, guilt, anguish, and despair. The intensity and duration of grief differ in each situation. The death of a child can bring on excruciating pain that may diminish over time but never go away while an aging parent’s demise is expected, making the loss more acceptable…

Take your time and put major life decisions on hold.

The grieving process is fraught with emotions that can interfere with your rational decision-making mind. You might regret impulsive actions, such as moving to another place, getting married again too soon, or suing the boss who sacked you.

Learn about “The Road to Recovery” here

Grieving? A Twist on Social Media and Using It to Your Benefit

Social media taught me how to grieve on Mother’s Day

My mother was killed in a car accident when I was in middle school. For those of us who have lost our mother figures or have strained relationships with them, social media on Mother’s Day is a punch to the gut. Here’s how I now use the internet to […]

Pre-Instagram-era, Mother’s Day was just a day in May in which I would shut my door to the world, indulge in my saddest music and memories, and give myself a break for eating cookie dough directly from the roll. The next day was business as usual. But thanks to Instagram and Facebook, I’m now highly aware of how friends, colleagues—even influencers I’ve never met—are embracing the day.

Never one to be left out, I’ve devised a strategy of sorts over the years…

I was left a 30-year-old widower – here is how I survived

Dealing with Death of a Spouse at a Young Age

THERE WERE ONLY three weeks from cancer diagnosis to death.

When you’re 30, you never think something like this will happen to you. This isn’t how it’s meant to be. We had so many plans – things we wanted to do and places we wanted to see.

The thing is that you’re not just grieving the person you’ve lost, but also the future you thought you were going to have with them.

Honestly, it’s hard not to feel like I’ve been robbed. That Kathy was robbed. That our families were robbed.

There is no greater plan here. Giving a 29-year-old woman an aggressive form of cancer that she never had a chance to beat, never even had a chance to fight against, is just so cruel.

Initial bereavement

When I returned to our apartment for the first time, there was a weird sense of comfort, but it also felt utterly surreal. Everything as it was, but at the same time, never will be again.

I also wasn’t sure how I was ‘meant’ to feel. Although society seems to have this narrative around grieving and what to expect, I quickly learned there is no right or wrong way. Everyone handles grief differently…

Read the “Road to Recovery” by Rich Nilsen

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.