Tips for grieving to better cope with the nation’s tragedy

By on September 20, 2001

Tuesday’s tragedy left the whole world in shock and horror. Below are some tips on healthy grieving.
1. Stay “connected” with someone. Find a trusted friend, pastor or counselor with whom you can be real. Speak what’s on your mind and in your heart. If this feels one-sided, let that be okay for this period of your life. Chances are the other person will find meaning in what they’re doing. And the time will come when you’ll have the chance to be a good listener for someone else. You’ll be a better listener if you’re a good talker now.
2. Don’t be afraid to tell people what helps you and what doesn’t. People around you may not understand what you need – so tell them. If you need more time alone, or assistance with chores you’re unable to complete, or an occasional hug, be honest. People can’t read your mind, so you’ll have to speak it.
3. Invite someone to be your telephone buddy. If your grief and sadness hit you especially hard at times and you have no one nearby to turn to, ask someone you trust to be your telephone buddy. Ask their permission for you to call them whenever you feel you’re in trouble, day or night. Then put their number beside your phone and call them if you need them.
4. Begin a journal. Write out your thoughts, feelings and prayers. Be as honest as you can. In time, go back through your writings and notice how you’re changing and growing. Write about that, too.
5. Write a letter to the person who died. Write your thoughts you wish you could express if they were present. This can be a key step in coming to terms with your feelings and bringing a degree of healing closure.
6. Consider a church or community grief support group. You were not created to be alone all the time. Gathering with others who’ve experienced similar loss can remove the isolation so often associated with grief
7. Plant a flower, a bush or a tree in memory of the one who died. Or plant several things. Do this ceremonially if you wish, perhaps with others present. If you do this planting where you live, you can watch it grow and change day by day, season by season. You can even make it a part of special times of remembrance in the future.
8. Give yourself permission to change some things. As soon as it seems right, alter some things in your home to make clear this significant change that has occurred. Rearrange a room or replace a piece of furniture or give away certain items that will never again be used. This doesn’t mean to remove all signs of the one who died. But, preserving a “shrine” to your lost loved one can be harmful, in that it may not allow for the closure process to begin.
9. Allow yourself to laugh and cry. Sometimes something funny will happen to you, just like it used to. When that happens, go ahead and laugh if it feels funny to you. You won’t be desecrating your loved one’s memory. Crying goes naturally with grief. Tears well up and fall even when you least expect them. It may feel awkward to you, but this is not unusual for a person in your situation. A good rule of thumb is this: if you feel like crying, then cry.
10. Do something to help someone else. Step out of your own problems from time to time and devote your attention to someone else. Offer a gift or your service. Placing your focus on someone else will help you avoid the traps of self pity and anger.


About Stacey McGahan