Two Stories of Grief and Healing Honoring National Grief Awareness Day
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.