Breast Cancer Awareness Month| Learning to Live with Grief
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month suddenly upon us, many therapists are reminded of the extreme challenges clients may face when coping with an unexpected diagnosis, dealing with caregiver’s responsibilities or managing the loss of a loved one. Living with grief and loss is a pain that many of our clients battle. Here are a few tips to assist patients and caregivers:
- Give yourself time to mourn/grieve:
It’s never a good decision to 'stuff' any emotion, especially one as tender and fragile as grief. Take time to yourself. Assess the situation and acknowledge how grieving may be vicariously presenting itself through you and how it also might be affecting the way you interact with others. More often then not, we, as emotional beings, allow our emotions to dictate our actions and while we are consciously aware of the connection to our emotions, we are not bound by them.
- Don't Grieve Alone
Whether its the support of a loved one or not, certain battles require back-up and that's okay! Grieving with someone who's also in a state of mourning, allows both the opportunity to support one another through the hardships, because let's face it sometimes we really just want to be understood. In the end, both parties agree to let go of all that's weighing them down and to focus on the moments to come.
- Realize you're no longer responsible for the event that occurred and take responsibility for what happens to you.
No matter how much you'd like to control the weather on your day off or the traffic on your way to work, certain things are out of your control and the quicker you acknowledge this reality, the easier your road to Letting Go will be. Come to terms with the fact that what occurred, no matter how severe, occurred and to live in the past would be counterproductive to your goals in life. It's been said that 'the only way to the top [Mt. Everest] is one step at a time'.
- Eliminate negative thinking/ "stinky thinking"
Clogging up your head with stinky thinking will lead to a stinky lifestyle, at least, that's what my Cognitive Psychology professor used to say. Believe it or not, how you perceive life (yourself, those around you, the environment you're in) plays a huge role in just how satisfied you are living it. Studies show, that those with a more pessimistic outlook on life are generally less happy than those with a more optimistic view. In other words, stop thinking about what could go wrong and focus on what can go right! It's time to take the reigns and steer yourself out of the darkness and into a new brighter day!
- Learn a Skill (Find a hobby)
Channel your energy to something positive, something healthy and something productive. Always wanted to learn an instrument? Pick one up and sign up for lessons! Old canvas looking oddly tempting? Grab some brushes and some paint and have at it! Whatever your interest, take some time to focus on it and allow it to serve as an outlet to your worrying brain. After flooding your limbic system with anxiety and stress, you owe it to your brain to indulge itself in the elevated levels of a neurotransmitter known as, dopamine. Not only that, but you owe it to yourself as well and you'll see that not only did all that hard work pay off in a newly acquired skill, but a refreshed and uncluttered mind, as well.
- Setting new goals reforms your mind to focus on a token in the relatively near future
Set your sails to the northstar and don’t stop until you hit land! Talk about your long-term goal. Although you've come to terms with the preceding events and how they've affected you, you might need some help as to what to do next. Setting achievable goals for yourself, whether short or long-term, redirects your brain to focusing on tomorrow and the next day and every day after that until the completion of your goal(s). Not only will this serve as reinforcement to your state of mind, it provides a productive and realistic alternative to the grieving process.
"It isn't what happens to us that causes us to suffer its what we say to ourselves about what happens." - Pema Chodron
Emotional Mojo Talk Show QUICK Recap: TIPS for Living with Grief
Understand the following:
1) Grief is PERSONAL (no one grieves the same way)
2) Stages of Grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance)
3) Honor your EMOTIONS (do not judge yourself)
4) Memorialize your relationship with your loved one
5) Take your time to heal
Tips for Dating Again
1) Make sure you’re dating for the right reason
2) Feeling guilty is normal, let it go gradually
3) Share your story, but be careful not to overdo it
4) Do not use your new partner as a therapist
5) Take it slow
One thing to do today: Make an intentional choice to enjoy life and date when you are ready.
Jada Jackson, M.S., M.A., LMHC, NCC
Talk Show Host of Emotional Mojo
Author of Be-You-Tiful: The Threefold Process to Becoming You
Blogger and Author of Jada Jackson: My Story, My Life
Authors: Jada Jackson and Ricardo Mogo, Intern