Dealing with a loss of a relative can be painful and difficult. Life may not seem the same for a while but by taking steps towards recovery you will be better able to cope with the loss of your relative. To help understand what type of an impact a loss of a relative can have on someone and for tips on coping with a loss of a relative, I have interviewed therapist Dawn Gilner, MA, LPC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a wife and mother of six children. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and I co-own Willow Creek Counseling Center in Lenexa, Kansas. I am in the process of publishing my first book called ‘I Miss His Everything, a journey through one momma’s heart. I am organizing a race called The Maguire Gilner Angel Day 5K Run (& Walk) in memory of my son. Proceeds from this event will help local families purchase headstones for their children. Our first race is May 14th, 2011.”
What type of impact can a loss of a relative have on someone’s overall life?
“This is a very complicated question and not one that can be easily answered in a few lines. Obviously losing a loved one is devastating and the closer you are to that person – and how much time you spend with that person often tends to increase the grief. It probably isn’t necessary to say, but losing a grandparent who lives 1500 miles away wouldn’t typically be as difficult as unexpectedly losing a man to whom you are happily married.
The other thing that can really complicate a loss is if when you have unresolved issues with this person. For example, say you had a misunderstanding or a rocky relationship with a person and they die before you have the chance to smooth the relationship out. This can easily complicate the grief with guilt or anger. These layers of emotions make the grieving process a bit more challenging.
The grieving process can easily be drawn out if the person is unwilling to talk about their emotions, smooshes them down – numbs out, or does not have a good network of support. Seeking counseling or support groups will help the person process their grief and move on to the next phase in their life. Time does not heal our wounds – as the old saying goes – dealing with and processing through all of those emotions is what helps us to heal.”
What are 5 tips for coping with the loss of a relative?
“The following are my 5 tips for coping with a loss of a relative, which can also be found in my book ‘I Miss His Everything, a journey through one momma’s heart’.
1. Do not bottle up your pain ‘” talk to someone, talk to anyone. Get in with a counselor, call your mother, call a friend — call someone and let them know what you are thinking, feeling and experiencing.
2. Do not expect your old “normal” to return. If you are waiting for this to happen, it may take you longer to do some healing. Your old “normal” is gone. That is a hard truth to write. It is even a harder truth to hear. Your new life now includes a very significant loss. You must create a new “normal” that includes your pain. It is part of who you are now.
3. Keep busy! If you are working already, join a small group. If you live alone, head to a coffee shop or the library ‘” try not to sit alone at home where all those painful memories will wash over you. Volunteer for a charity, visit a nursing home, or make cookies for a neighbor.
4. Recognize your pain! When the fullness of your grief is upon you, do not try to outrun it. Recognize it for what it is and make the following statements “I am missing ______ today. Today I am sad and I know it is going to be a hard day. I will cry and try to move on throughout my day the best that I can.” You will never be able to escape it and trying to avoid the pain is futile effort. Recognize it, respect it, and allow yourself to be human and feel sad.
5. Often times grief will strike at inopportune times – when no support person is around to listen. Another great coping strategy is to write or journal those feelings down. This will act as a release value to the anxiety you are feeling inside. It makes them tangible and concrete instead of a swirling circle of emotions trapped inside.”
What type of professional help is available for someone that is having a difficult time coping with a loss of a relative?
“Grief counseling is a great way to process these emotions. Do a search online to find a therapist in your area who specializes in grief. Support groups are also a great way to connect. This can also help to alleviate any feelings of isolation to discover you are not the only one who is in this dark part of the grief cycle.”
Thank you Dawn for doing the interview on 5 tips for coping with a loss of a relative. For more information about Dawn Gilner or her work you can check out her website on www.DawnGilner.com.
How to Recover from a Loss of a Loved One
Surviving Through the Grief Stages
Recovering from Divorce