Losing a child or someone you love is probably one of the most difficult things anyone can go through. If you have children at home or a spouse who is also grieving, you may find yourself in a position where you need to put on a happy face even when feel miserable. New research has shown that the cause of many illnesses is due to held in emotional grief.
In a recent study, researchers worked with couples who had lost a child. They found that when couples tried to avoid discussing their loss or stay strong for their partner's sake, it actually exacerbated their grief. In fact, it even made their partner's grief worse. The scientists studying this phenomenon stated that self-control is essential for dealing with the world, but when you go to excessive means to hold in emotions and feelings, it’s detrimental. Soon the emotion is acted out in behavior or takes a toll on the body; too much self-control prevents you from coping with loss. You become numb and can no longer connect to yourself or partner.
When couples lose someone they both loved, it presents an opportunity to share grief and develop a closer bond. Below are a few suggestions that can help you help yourself as well as those you love:
Take time to sit down and share your feelings with your partner and, when age appropriate, with your children. Couples who grieve together hold one another up.
Remember men and women grieve differently, as do children. Allowing each family member to open up at their own pace means stepping back; instead of telling them how to grieve, allow them to talk about it at their own pace.
Most couples go through the same stages of grief (shock, denial, anger, depression, detachment and finally acceptance), but they go through them at different times. You may skip ahead and then fall backwards. Offer one another support at every stage. Be open to counseling when you feel as though you need more support working through a specific area.
The more you can do together to symbolize the loved one's life, the better. Couples may plant a tree, be open to speaking for organizations that support what their loved one died from, donate to an organization, or work with their family parish.
Take walks together each day and stay open to mystery, visions, and dreams. Couples often tell me their walks became a time for them to talk about recent dreams or visions they had experienced. Their "walks" became an important way for them to connect and build a stronger unity.
Focus on giving and acts of kindness toward others. It can reduce grief to focus on someone else who is grieving. A parent, sibling, or teacher may need your support with the loss of your loved one. Getting out of yourself will help you feel stronger.
If you or your partner starts becoming more numb, depressed, or disconnected, go with them to their doctor instead of trying to distract them. Working with a medical doctor and a counselor can help you maneuver and work through the darkest days of grief.
From the moment we are born, there is an unstated truth that our time here is limited. Grief is a normal feeling and experience that can help you understand more about life. Mr. Rogers' mother said it best, "In times of intense loss, focus on the helpers." There are always helpers, and they are better able to help when you are open and honest with your feelings of loss.