HOW LONG DOES GRIEF LAST?

Asking how long grief will last is the most common question asked. Whether it is you who has suffered the loss that is asking the question or others wondering when you will return to “normal.” There is no “normal” timetable for grieving a loss. We live in a society that encourages us to “get over it.” But grief is a lifelong process. It is not something you get over like the flu or the common cold. Your response to grief is individual and depends on your coping skills.

With time the intensity of the pain diminishes but it is never completely gone. It can be described as having an open wound that gradually heals, eventually leaving a scar. Initially the pain may be excruciating but as it heals the pain lessens, leaving you with the scar as a reminder of the loss.

EVERYONE GRIEVES DIFFERENTLY

Grief is very personal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. And there is no timetable. Some people may feel better in weeks or months; others may heal over a period of years. Some people cry, some don’t.  

A couple I saw many years ago were at odds because of the individual way of expressing their grief after the sudden loss their 50 year old son. Mrs. M could barely talk without crying. She also made daily visits to the cemetery.  Mr. M shed tears the day of the funeral but has since remained very controlled when expressing his feelings. They judged each other’s grief responses as being “wrong.” He was annoyed with her continuous crying. She felt he didn’t grieve for their son because he didn’t cry. With time they were able to understand and accept each other’s grief responses, acknowledging that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

Also, grief is not linear. It can almost feel as if you are going up and down on a rollercoaster. There are many “triggers” that impact on your grief over time. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays can reawaken feelings of grief. These reactions are completely normal. It is best to plan ahead to address grief “triggers.”  Make sure you are not alone. Create a way to honor your loved one.

In 1969, psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” While this was based on the study of her patients with terminal illness, it was later used to define other losses including the death of a loved.

THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF

v  Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”

v  Anger: “Why is this happening to me?”

v  Bargaining: “Make this go away and I will do……..”

v  Depression: “I can’t do anything because I am too sad.”

v  Acceptance: “I’m now able to accept what happened.”

Following a loss you may experience these five stages. It may help you understand your reactions. However, not everyone experiences all the stages and you do not necessarily go through each stage in order.  Some people may heal without going through any of the stages, others may go through some of the stages. Remember, there are no “shoulds” when it comes to grieving.

I continue to see Ms. A. in my practice who witnessed the sudden death of her long time boyfriend. After two years of addressing this sudden loss, she has come to terms with her feelings of grief. She moved in and out of the different stages, some lasting briefly, others longer until there was an acceptance. She now feels stronger and is able to move on with her life.

THE MYTHS OF GRIEF

MYTH: if you ignore it, the pain will go away.

REALITY: Ignoring or suppressing the pain will make it worse. At some point your feelings of grief will  surface and be more difficult to handle. To heal it is necessary to face the loss.

 

MYTH: You must be “strong.”

REALITY: Any feelings are normal. Crying does not mean you are weak. Feeling you must be strong for other members of the family can have negative impact on your own recovery as well as their ability to heal.

 

MYTH: Grief only lasts a year

REALITY: There is no right or wrong length of time. How long it takes depends on the individual person, their personality and their individual coping skills .

While this article focused on loss through the death of a loved one, there are many other types of losses that one can grieve.

v  Loss of health

v  Loss of independence

v  Selling the family home

v  Loss of friendships

v  Moving to a health care facility

v  Retirement

Some of the symptoms of grief may include, shock, sadness, guilt, anger, fear as well as physical symptoms. All are normal reactions.  A most important factor in healing from a loss may be to seek the support of others. You might join a support group. If you find you are not able to handle your grief,  that may be the time to talk with a therapist to work through your overwhelming emotions. As a therapist, working with an elderly population I have dealt with with grief and loss issues, covering all types of grief. You can be helped. 

Please don't hesitate to call. Judith Glick, LCSW - 201-657-5682 for a free phone consultation. 

5 REASONS TO MOVE YOUR LOVED ONE TO AN ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY!

Do you feel that your mother or father needs more help than you can provide?  As an adult child, do you see what you want to see in relation to your parents' abilities and not wanting to let go of how it used to be?  Do you feel you are aware of any decline or changes? It is sometimes difficult to accept change; that your mother or father is more physically or emotionally limited or is unable to appropriately care for themselves. There are so many red flags that your family member may be at risk, needing more help and it may be time to move to an assisted living facility. While some changes are obvious, others may subtle and not be noticed.

SIGNS IT IS TIME FOR YOUR LOVED ONE TO MOVE TO AN ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY.

1.      SOME OF THE MORE OBVIOUS WARNINGS

a.      Chronic health conditions which are progressive     (COPD, dementia, congestive heart failure) may occur gradually or within a short period of time.

b.      Increased difficulties with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) such as dressing, cooking, bathing, doing laundry, may indicate increased difficulty to live independently.

c.       Your loved one may be showing a slow recovery from recent illnesses. i.e. flu, bad cold. Did it develop into pneumonia, bronchitis? Maybe mom or dad delayed seeing their physician or didn’t take their medications.

2.      CHANGES IN SOCIALIZATION

a.      Are they cutting back on activities? Are they making excuses and telling friends they are too busy to meet them for lunch? Often loved pastimes are given up. Your mother no longer knits; your father stops playing cards with friends.

b.      Days are often spent in isolation, not leaving the house because they can no longer drive or there is a lack of public transportation. Self isolation can lead to depression. There is also the risk that a person with dementia may get lost if they go out on their own.

3.      CHANGES AROUND THE HOUSE

a.      Is there is more clutter? Is this because of physical deficits or a change in mental status? This change in behavior may be of greater concern if your parent was extremely neat and orderly.

b.      Taking care of housekeeping may have taken a dramatic change. Physical limitations may indicate difficulty in accomplishing tasks. It may be impossible to run the vacuum cleaner. Due to decreased vision a spill may not be seen creating a slip and fall hazard. Dementia may also indicate a lack of awareness and the need to clean a spill.

4.      PHYSICAL CHANGES WITH NEGATIVE IMPACT

a.      You parent seems increasingly frail. Have you noticed problems with balance? Does your loved one have difficulty getting up from a chair? The risk of falling is greatly increased.

b.      Noticeable weight loss or weight gain. You might notice that clothes are getting loose and mom is having more difficulty cooking. Or constant snacking contributes to a weight gain.

c.       Hygiene and appearance problems. Lack of proper hygiene may be impacted by depression or dementia. Or simply by ambivalence. Does your mother take pride in her appearance? Putting on makeup, combing her hair. Is your father shaving?

5.      MONEY PROBLEMS, A BIG RED FLAG

a.      Unopened bills and personal mail are piling up. Are there unopened letters and birthday cards? Because of unopened bills are there past due notices and warnings?

b.      The older adult often feels that they must contribute to charity requests. Look for thank-you messages from charities indicating excessive contributions. Seniors are vulnerable to scams.

c.       Piles of mail and magazines indicate the inability to manage finances and may also become a potential physical hazard.

As a family you are having difficulty providing the necessary care for your loved one. You’ve tried to help maintain your parent’s home. Mowing the lawn. Shopping for groceries. Driving your loved one to doctor’s appointments. Helping to pay the bills. You are constantly worried about safety issues and realize that your parent is using poor judgment in their decision making. These are all good reasons to consider the necessity of moving to an assisted living facility.

As a psychotherapist working with the older adult and their family I understand the difficulty in making a life changing decision. I am there to support and guide both you and your loved one. 

 Please don't hesitate to call. Judith Glick, LCSW - 201-657-5682 for a free phone consultation. 

YOU'RE NEVER ALONE. HELP FOR THE ANGRY CAREGIVER!

You're Never Alone - Solutions for Elder Care

As a caregiver do you ever find yourself getting angry at your elderly parents? Do you lose patience? Feel frustrated? You are not alone! You have a lot of company! The stress and frustration of caregiving can make it difficult to cope with daily challenges or to view any situation objectively.

As children we are all taught to honor and respect our parents. No one wants to admit to feeling angry at a parent for seemingly petty issues. It is impossible for you  to understand why you react with negative emotions. These are feelings that you find difficult to share with anyone. You judge yourself, viewing these as unacceptable feelings. 

This is a time that you have to do things for your parents. Therefore, many of your hopes and dreams may have to be postponed to provide necessary care. 

SOME OF THE MANY INTERESTS YOU WANTED TO PURSUE MAY INCLUDE:

  • Taking long awaited trips
  • Enrolling in a course: photography, art, etc.                                                                                         
  • Visiting grandchildren who live at a distance                                                                                    
  • Learning to play golf, bridge, etc.
  • Catching up on reading

These are just a few wishes that had to be postponed. Then one evening just when you are about to meet friends for dinner you get an emergency phone call. You have to get in your car and drive two hours to take care of your mother who just had an anxiety attack.

You have theater tickets to celebrate your anniversary and because your father just "fired" his new health aide you have to go to his apartment to make sure he is safe. 

Your mother appears to be very needy and she may no longer be able to perform daily tasks. You go for your weekly visit for lunch and each time you arrive you are expected to do the cooking. Mom no longer seems able to prepare lunch. You react with feelings of anger.

It seems that everything in your life including conversations is focused around caring for your elderly parent. It is not difficult to understand that these issues would make you feel angry and resentful.

THINGS ARE NO LONGER AS THEY ONCE WERE. PARENTS CAN'T DO OR GIVE AS THEY USED TO.

  • Mother can no longer manage to have the family come for holidays or celebrations.
  • Dad is forgetting to pay bills and is not able to balance his checkbook
  • You are not able to count on your parent for support or to be there in emergencies
  • Your mother no  longer asks about the grandchildren
  • Your father, who always took pride in his appearance has stains on his clothes
  • Mom and dad can no longer drive. Errands and appointments need to be scheduled and not always at your convenience

Your parents can no longer do or be the parents you knew and loved. They are no longer behaving as your parents. And just when you have time to enjoy your life, they are taking up every spare minute.

HERE ARE JUST A FEW WAYS TO BEGIN TO ALLEVIATE SOME OF THE ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONS

  • Acceptance - it is difficult when things have changed and seem out of control. It is easier to accept the changes rather than to fight them. Your parent is now dependent on you. Both the roles and rules have changed. Embracing the change will decrease your anger..
  • Take care of yourself - if you don't it will not benefit either of you. Take a walk. Meet with friends. Read a book. Schedule "me" time as if you are making a necessary doctor's appointment. 
  • Expect their anger - it is very difficult for a parent to give up the role that defined them. Now they feel they are not in control of their lives. It is not any easier for them to accept the change.
  • Empowerment - give them options. Help them to feel that they are still running their lives.
  • Ask their advice - while they may need you for support, ask them for their advice about things in both your lives. .
  • Depend on others - ask your spouse or your siblings for support. Don't go on this journey alone.
  • Slow things down - this is new territory. You are both learning new ways to do things. Let things evolve gradually. Count to 10 when you  feel you are going to lose your temper and say something you will regret. 

If you are so overwhelmed that you can't cope and your anger takes over, this may be the time to seek help. Again, you don't have to be alone in this journey. As a therapist, working with the older population I have been able to successfully guide adult children through this unchartered territory. Please call for a free phone consultation to further discuss your concerns. Or email me through the link on my contact page.

 

solutionsforeldercare.com

 

ADVICE ON SURVIVING CAREGIVER BURNOUT

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT HAVING CAREGIVER BURNOUT?


As a caregiver are you worried about what the future holds? Are you at odds with your elderly relative about life's decisions? 

Caregiving for older relatives has always been a concern of families  Care is given with love, kindness, and commitment. But when care is provided for many years the burden can be unrelenting and burdensome.  

Baby Boomers (49-65 y/o), currently a large portion of our population, are shouldering the burden of caregiving. Adult children are often part of the Sandwich Generation. They might have children who have moved back home after college and/or divorce. They might be babysitting for grandchildren.  And all the while caring for a senior member of their family.  The young-old (65-74) often with their own health issues might be caring for a parent in the following age groups, 75-84 (middle old) or 85+ (old-old). 

As a caregiver your feelings are many.  Frustration, anger, worry, stress, exhaustion are just a few of the possible reactions.  Caregiving includes many stressors, a change in family dynamics, financial burdens and increased volume of work. All of this can result in constant stress and frustration and a quick burnout. 

Medical advances and increased life expectancy impact on caregiving outcomes.  It is most likely that one will participate in taking care of a loved one, themselves be the recipient of the caregiving process or both. You may be fortunate enough to have a strong support system or you may be carrying the burden alone, resulting in caregiver burnout. Burnout can be a real danger but can be prevented with some guidelines.

SIGNS OF CAREGIVER BURNOUT

  • Frustration
  • Impatience
  • Exhaustion/fatigue
  • Worry
  • Neglect of own needs
  • Life revolves around your loved one
  • Stress
  • Frequent illnesses/colds
  • Financial burdens

SUGGESTIONS TO PREVENT BURNOUT

1. Take a break – not just as hour. Do something with a friend for the afternoon/day. Indulge yourself. Take a walk, go to a movie, take a nap.
2. Accept help when offered. Don’ t feel you have to be responsible for everything.
3. Remember there is a difference between caring and doing. Encourage independence in your loved one.
4. Confide in others. Call a trusted friend, family member, just tell them you need them to listen. Join a support group
5. Remember caregiving is a job and with any job you get a vacation. Look into respite care.
6. Watch for depression and seek help.
7. Grieve the losses, dream new dreams.

You can survive caregiver burnout. First and foremost, in order to continue to provide the best care possible to your loved one you MUST take care of yourself. Caregivers I have seen in the past few years have made progress in addressing their needs with the additional support of a therapist and making small, steady changes. They understand that making any positive change can help and they are not alone in this uncharted journey.

 Please don't hesitate to call. Judith Glick, LCSW - 201-657-5682 for a free phone consultation. I can help you alleviate your worries and decrease your anxiety about caregiver burnout. 

Judith Glick, LCSW

www.solutionsforeldercare.com

I FEEL GUILTY ABOUT MAKING DECISIONS FOR MY AGING PARENTS!

Guilt is the conflict between reality and your perception of the "ideal you." The list of things you might feel guilty about are endless, but this article will focus on caregiver's guilt relating to decision making for their aging parents. You can feel guilty about making a decision or you can feel guilty about not making a decision. Do you ask for help or refuse to ask for any support. Remember, we don't always make the right decision, we just do the best we can. 

In the past week I have spoken to several adult children upset about their need to make decisions for their aging parents. The one statement that came up repeatedly is "I feel so guilty."  One daughter, even though her mother asked to be moved to an assisted living facility, was upset about the decision. She felt she should have been able to have her mother live with her. That is ideal if the aging parent's needs can be met with home health agencies, day care, other family members. Hopefully, you have not promised your parent, when things were good, that you would never put them in a nursing home

It is often difficult for caregivers to cope with the needed role reversal asking, "When did I become the parent?" While this is a natural evolution, especially with increased life span, most often you are not prepared for the change. Until now the parent has been the strong, all-knowing caregiver. Struggling with the loss of normalcy, feeling overly responsible and feeling inadequate in providing the level of care needed, gives rise to feelings of guilt.

Guilt is the psychological mechanism that provides feedback. It is neither logical or virtuous to dwell on the pain. These feelings can surface when one feels that they have violated family values. Values that may not be realistic. These can be standards that are unwarranted, carried over from childhood, when we didn't do something we were supposed to do.

A few ideas to help keep you balanced during these challenging times.

  1. Like any body pain, pay attention to this pain.
  2. Revisit and reinvent the "Ideal You."
  3. Change your behavior to fit your values
  4. Ask for help, call a friend, seek professional helpl

When these emotions come up and you feel guilty about decisions you have made, remind yourself that just as your parent spent your younger years making the best possible decision for you based on the information they had and the options available, you have made the best possible senior care decision for your parent. Remember decisions are made in their best interest, you didn't cause the need, now may be the time for professional caregivers and to take time to grieve the losses. 

Judith Glick, LCSW

Click here to contact Judith Glick, LCSW

www.solutionsforeldercare.com

NORMAL ANXIETY vs GAD (GENERAL ANXIETY DISORDER)

Do you worry all the time about non-specific things? Do you get butterflies in your stomach the night before going on vacation or taking a big exam? Does your heart pound before asking your boss of a raise? Are you worried about family problems? These feelings of anxiety are a normal reaction to stress, a natural reaction to every day events. Anxiety can be positive. It helps you cope with some situations while keeping you focused.

But, living with the stresses in today's world you may feel overwhelmed by these worries which may impact and interfere with your daily life. If you spend most of the day worrying about things that may never happen or can't identify the reason for the tension you are feeling, you  may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. When your worries interfere with your ability to function during the day or constantly keep you up at night you may be suffering from GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). This can drain you energy, interfere with sleep and generally wear you out. Fortunately, there are many ways to resolve this issue and regain control of your life. GAD involves chronic worrying and feelings of nervousness and tension. The anxiety is nonspecific, a general feeling of unease that encompasses your whole life. With GAD it is very difficult to turn off your thoughts. The difference between normal worrying and GAD is that the worrying in GAD is excessive, persistent, debilitating.  You may worry about the same things that other people do but take it to a higher level of intensity.

Ex. Joe had a meeting with his supervisor at work to discuss the annual review. Although Joe and his boss developed a plan to help improve his performance in one specific area, Joe assumed that meant he would eventually be fired if he didn't show progress immediately. He was not able to focus on the identified task and or use his anxiety in a positive way to move forward. His worry became excessive, affecting areas of his performance that were not a problem.

Ex. Mary has always been a worrier but it had never interfered with her life. She experienced normal anxiety. Recently she is having difficulty sleeping, she has feelings of dread, is unable to concentrate at work or relax at home. Mary began to have difficulty sleeping and could not even stop these intrusive thoughts during the day. Since the intensity of the change was gradual Mary was unable to pinpoint a specific cause.

Not everyone suffers from the same symptoms but a combination of emotional, behavioral or physical symptoms. A few emotional reactions may include constant worrying, with nothing you can do to stop the worrying. There may be intrusive thoughts of feelings of dread. Physical reactions could include muscle tension, body aches, sleep disturbances, or stomach problems. Behavioral symptoms often include the inability to relax, difficulty concentrating, procrastinating or avoiding situations that make you anxious.

A few techniques to help reduce feelings of GAD

  • Remember anxiety is just a feeling from a perceived threat. Our body goes into a protective mode. Breathing exercises can help relax you. Our bodies can't be anxious and relaxed at the same time.
  • Accept your anxiety. Don't fight it. When you resist it you prolong the feelings. Take back the control, don't let the anxiety control you.
  • Remember what you fear the most rarely happens. On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the worst fear, most fears are in the lower part of the scale, rarely the worst case scenario.
  • One of the best ways to relieve anxiety is exercise which relieves stress, boosts energy. If you've tried self help and you are unable to get rid of your worries and fears it may be time to seek professional help. Therapy is effective in the treatment of GAD. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) often shows the best results. CBT examines the distortions in the way we think and behaviors that will bring positive change.

Call Judith Glick,'LCSW, 201-657-5682 for a free phone consultation

MOVING MOM TO AN ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY!

Have you recently moved an older relative to an assisted living facility? Are you still in the process of making that decision? Decision time, while not easy, is just the first step. It may be a yes or no answer, to move or not to move. But the next step is how everyone adjusts to the move if "yes" is the answer.

It can be a very emotional time when a family member leaves the home where they lived with their spouse, where they raised their children, and where neighbors were their friends. Most people want to stay in their own home as long as possible.  They often have the unrealistic feeling that "I can take care of myself for the rest of my life." To decrease the emotional impact of a move it is important to start these conversations early, well before the decision to move has to be made. Unfortunately, the majority of families make these decisions while in the middle of the crisis. 

Is your family member a willing participant to the move? Sometimes the older person has no trouble accepting this needed change and they are able to focus on a positive view of the future. Moving to an assisted living facility may bring a sense of relief as daily chores are handled by staff, i.e. cooking, cleaning, laundry, making their bed. There is no more yard work to do or the need to maintain a home.

Others are not so willing to accept the need to leave their home. When the older adult is resistant it is suggested that the adult child when discussing the need to move, make it their problem. "Mom/dad we are so worried about your safety that...........................". It is best not to say , "You need to do this.............." which could result in increased resistance. 

Adjustment difficulties are many and varied. Dealing with the loss of independence has a major impact on the older adult.

  • Not being able to get in your car to go to the store, movies, or out to dinner, making an impromptu visit to family or friends, can affect adjustment.
  • The need to downsize their home, giving away, selling or throwing out possessions may prevent an easy transition.
  • When the person can't see family or neighbors on a regular basis there may be feelings of abandonment. "No one cares."
  • You family member may have hosted all or many of the holidays and is having difficulty turning over this responsibility to others.
  • the new assisted living resident is often overheard verbalizing their feelings that they don't want to live with old people while acknowledging that they are probably in the same age group.

The decision to move a family member to a safer environment may be necessary due to physical deficits or frailty. Planning the move should involve a discussion with all family members. While there may not be any resistance to the move it does not mean there are no feelings of sadness or sense of loss. Just let your parent know you are empathetic with their feelings. You, too, wish it could be different.

If the move is permanent either planned or sudden, adjustment can be made smoother with a few small,  simple steps in place.Encourage the older adult to participate in the decisions about downsizing. What items to take. What to throw away. What special things to give to family and friends. Being part of the decision making process is essential. It provides the individual with some sense of control over their lives. It offers a new sense of independence.

Rituals can also be a very important part of the transition process. Saying good-bye is sad. Creating a farewell event along with a special welcome at the facility can help with positive feelings. One possibility would be to invite neighbors for coffee and........ before the move. Provide family and friends with the new address and ask them to send a note or card. It's nice to start getting mail in a new place.

Finally, as the caregiver when discussing a proposed move you may have feelings of guilt, feel trapped in this no-win situation or feel as if you are walking on eggs. First and foremost focus on the benefits to your loved one's health and well-being. Safety is always the primary concern. Are they now in a safer environment? If the answer is yes, holding on to those feelings may have negative impact on everyone's adjustment. After helping with the move while it is necessary to keep in touch, it is best to limit the length of a visit and frequency. Hand holding or spending too much time with your family member can possibly inhibit adjustment to the necessary move. 

Please don't hesitate to call Judith Glick, LCSW, 201-657-5682 for a free phone consultation. I can help you alleviate your worries and decrease your anxiety.

THE TRUTH ABOUT AGING SUCCESSFULLY

IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AGING SUCCESSFULLY

Aging Successfully - Solutions for Elder Care - Bergen County, NJ

We are all aging, whether we like it or not. We think about aging. We talk about aging. We worry about getting older. Society often puts a negative spin on getting older. Changing our view and thinking positive can put us on the road to successful aging. 

What used to be extremely rare is now becoming more common as the number of people living to be 100 continues to grow. Centenarians are remarkably happy and healthy, with the real possibility of aging successfully. 

Every day in the United States more than 200 people reach 100 years old. That was rare in the 1900s. Four out of five of those living to 100 are women. People are living longer because they are taking better care of themselves and due to advancements in science and medicine. 

Some positive aspects of successful aging can include:

1. Having good health with low risk of disease and disability.

2. Enjoying good mental health and physicial functioning.

3. Being activiely engaged with life, open to new ideas.

There is a tendency to group all older people into one box. There are many myths that perpetuate this belief. The view that all older people are sick, frail, weak, or alone. That they are unable to learn new things. Older people are often viewed as being unproductive and a burden on society. Many public figures accomplished great things later in life. But remember not all accomplishments have to equal the magnitude of the individuals listed below. Success can be met with achievements both large and small.

1. Grandma Moses took up painting in her late 70s.

2. Ruth Rothfarb ran her first marathon at 80.

3. Pablo Casals gave cello concerts into his 90s.

4. Picasso painted in his 90s.

5. Angela Lansbury took a role on Broadway at 83.

6. Betty White is in her 90s and still does TV and commercials.

When asked, older adults felt that successful aging included resilience, (the ability to adapt and persevere in the face of hardships), optimism (being able to recognize both the good and bad in a situation) and the absence of depression. 

Some tips to successful aging include:

1. STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE. Exercising should be based on your age. You should consult with your physician and/or professional trainer before starting any exercise program.

2. EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN. Read, do puzzles, learn something new.

3. KEEP A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE including eating well, getting enough sleep.

4. FOCUS ON POSITIVE FEELINGS. Good feelings help your mental health and body health.

5. DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. Worry creates negative feelings. Focus on what really matters.

Successful aging can be learned. Look to those that you know, have heard or read about to use as a role model. One of the most important aspects is to acknowledge and accept aging as a new stage of growth.

Judith Glick, LCSW

Click Here to contact Judith Glick, LCSW. 

www.solutionsforeldercare.com

HOW DO I COPE WITH GRIEF AND LOSS?

Coping with Grief and Loss - Solutions For Elder Care - Bergen County, NJ

Are you wondering if you are coping with grief and loss? Are you having an of the following feelings?  Confusion? A sense of despair? Sleep disturbances? Frequent periods of crying? Physical responses? Any normalcy of grief relating to various losses and their appropriate responses can be very confusing. Loss is an inevitable part of life. Grief is a normal response to a loss and the natural part of the healing process. The intensity of an individual's grief will depend on the significance of the loss. While most people associate grief with the loss of a loved one causing the most intense feeling of grief-you may experience grief from other losses.

  • Divorce/breakup of a relationship - a sense of loss may occur even if you made the decision to end a relationship.
  • Loss of a job - it is often difficult to see anything positive with hope for the future, when one door closes, another opens.
  • Changing jobs - even choosing to make a change can create turmoil, most people feel safe in what they know.
  • Death of a pet - the loss of this family member, the unconditional love.
  • Loss of dreams - your hopes and what you planned for the future.
  • Retirement - most people have not planned for this stage in their life.
  • Loss of health/independence - with longevity, it is most likely to have health issues and the need for assistance/care. 
  • Selling the family home - saying good-bye to memories, downsizing to live in a facility. 
  • Financial losses - with longevity, people's nest egg may not last to cover future expenses
  • Graduating from college/wedding - changes the balance in the family structure. 

Sudden losses may be due to events such as crimes, accidents or suicide and are often more traumatic. These losses might trigger feelings of insecurity that life is not predictable.  Predictable losses such as terminal illness allow more time to prepare for the loss, with grief based on the anticipation of the loss as well as grief relating to the loss itself.

EVERYONE GRIEVES DIFFERENTLY

No two people grieve the same way, it is a highly individual experience. It may depend on your personality, how you've coped in the past, and the nature of the loss. There is no timetable for grief, it can take weeks, months or years. Healing happens gradually., you can't force it or rush it.  

You may be told to "be strong." Just because you cry, feel lonely or frightened doesn't mean you are weak. You may feel that you have to be strong in order to protect other loved ones. Sharing your feelings with family and friends can actually help everyone heal.

Crying is a normal response to the pain of the loss. For one person crying may be a healthy release. Just because someone doesn't cry does not mean they don't feel the pain as intensely. Grief responses are individual.

Ex. An older couple I saw many years ago for therapy had lost their adult son. The mother cried all the time and went to the cemetery daily. The father, retired military, only shed a few tears at the funeral but was feeling the loss with the same intensity. At times they were both intolerant of the other's response to the loss, feeling their individual response was the only appropriate one.

Some people feel that if you ignore the pain it will go away. Suppressing your feelings doesn't mean they go away. You may have a stronger reaction in the future and have more difficulty coping if you deny your feelings. To heal it is necessary to face your pain and deal with it. 

Grief over the loss of a loved one never disappears completely. While the daily pain may not be as intense, there may be frequent reminders which can bring back the pain even years later. Reminders may include the anniversary of the death, holidays, and birthdays. Emotions may be impacted when you hear a special song, pass a place of shared memories.

Ex. Someone I knew had lost her grandmother when she was 15 years old. Years later, when listening to music in her car she heard a song which brought back strong memories of her grandmother. She started sobbing without any warning. 

Some of the emotions relating to your grief may include: disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, fear. Grief impacts both emotional  and physical problems. If you are having difficulty coping with your grief don't hesitate to get support.

  • Disbelief: There may be the feeling that this didn't really happen. You may have a feeling of numbness and believe that your loved one will walk in the room.
  • Sadness: You may have an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and periods of crying. 
  • Guilt: Do you worry that you didn't do something or say something. There may be a sense of relief when someone dies after a long illness.
  • Anger: You may feel angry that the person died and blame yourself, the doctor, even the person who died
  • Fear: This can include concern about the future and being alone.

This is the time to turn to family members and friends. Don't avoid people. Ask for assistance. Draw comfort from you faith. Religion and mourning rituals can be meaningful and comforting. If the intensity of your grief doesn't lessen and you aren't moving forward it may be time to talk to a therapist. If your grief is overwhelming and too much of a burden, if you are blaming yourself for the loss, you feel like life isn't worth living and feel disconnected from the world it is not too soon to make that phone call.

Call Judith Glick, LCSW, 201-657-5682 for a free phone consultation. 

www.solutionsforeldercare.com