Lifestyle

HEALTHY LIVING: Grief is a healing process dealt with personally

We all know that death is inevitable. But facing our own mortality or the death of a loved one brings up emotions that can be difficult to handle.

Grief is the healing process that allows us to adjust to the change or loss in our lives. The emotional stages of grief include:

• Denial: It takes time for the full impact of the situation to sink in and become real. Initial denial can be healthy and our way of delaying the shock.

• Anger: Expressing anger when faced with death is a normal part of the grieving process.

• Bargaining: It is natural for some people to bargain with God. They may make promises to do something in exchange for a longer life or the chance to see another birthday.

• Depression: This comes with deeply feeling the loss and the full understanding of what is happening.

• Acceptance: Peace comes in this stage of the grieving process. Acceptance means coming to terms with death. For example, you may feel that what’s done is done.

When coping with death and dying, it is important to take as much time as you need to grieve. Reminisce with friends and loved ones; look through old photographs; read letters from the past.

Let yourself cry, too. Crying is an excellent release and there is nothing shameful about it. Also, talk about your feelings and grief with friends and relatives who are sympathetic listeners.

Know that some people around you may feel uncomfortable about mentioning your loss. Let them know that it’s OK to talk about it and to talk with you.

Author Rose Shandrow is director of mission and spiritual care for the Franciscan Health System, which includes St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw. E-mail her at roseshandrow@FHShealth.org.

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