The tragedy of a loved one dying leads to often a long process of emotions, grieving and healing. We all work through such loss in our unique ways. As I prepare for the upcoming one-year anniversary of losing the man I called my father, I wanted to share with you some things that myself and others have found healing in their journey of honoring a loved one.
· Celebrate your loved one’s life in your own way! Some may do that through prayer, others by creating a physical and visual area where they can peacefully grieve. For example, we planted a rose bush and each of the family members painted a rock for this tranquil memory garden. Financially donating to, or volunteering for a certain cause that was important to this person is also common. Some like to keep a file of photos on their phone to look through, or a special picture in their backpack or wallet.
· Share your thoughts, feelings, and memories with others who knew this person. Sometimes people are afraid to make others sad, or cry in public. It is OKAY to do so! In fact, an important part of healing is verbally processing with others and accepting your emotions.
· Give yourself permission to heal and recover. Sometimes loved ones are afraid that if they show signs of improvement, maybe not crying for one day, that shows a lack of grieving. Again, we all go through the bereavement process on our own timeline!
· On the days you know are going to be hard, for example anniversaries, have a plan in place. If you are the type of person that feels better when you are around others, then schedule a lunch and/or dinner with your friends or family members on the upcoming day. Perhaps you want to recognize this person by doing something they loved, such as going to a Packers game.
· Do not be afraid to reach out for support. If you notice signs of depression, such as: significant sleep and appetite changes, persistent sad mood, low energy levels and a discontinuation of doing things you once enjoyed, utilize help resources. In Wisconsin, you can call 211, or goto http://www.211.org/. If you have a therapist that you utilize, be sure to connect with her/him, you can also look up the crisis resources in the county that you live in.