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Diet & Nutrition

Ten ways to deal with grief

Ruth Ostrow is a journalist and has compiled these tips after interviews and personal experiences with counsellors. They are not intended as a substitute for seeking proper grief counselling, professional help, or medical advice.

Ruth Ostrow is a journalist and has compiled these tips after interviews and personal experiences with counsellors. They are not intended as a substitute for seeking proper grief counselling, professional help, or medical advice. 1. Seek grief counselling or professional help Your heart is sore and needs to heal. An experienced practitioner can offer you guidance and support. 2. Time Give yourself permission to grieve as long and as powerfully as you need. 3. Understand your reactions Understand and accept that grief includes all sorts of reactions not normally associated with grief. According to prominent grief counsellors Mal and Dianne McKissock, these reactions may include escapist behaviour, excessive partying, shopping, or sexual activity, as well as being shut down, unemotional, over-emotional, angry, relieved, or confused. 4. Accept your reactions Whatever your reaction is may be typical of how you react when under great stress. According to the McKissocks, these defence mechanisms are formed when we are children. If you responded to pain or fear as a child by running off on your bicycle, becoming loud and rebellious, or by hiding, that is likely to be how you will handle grief. Accept these reactions as normal. 5. Try not to be judgemental of self or others Counsellors advise people to accept that grief will be personal to their particular situation. A person who was close to a late spouse will grieve differently to one who was not. Grief for a parent is different from grief for a child. There are no rules, all feelings are okay. 6. There is no time limit on grief 7. Grief will change over time Just as it is advised to allow feelings to be intense without feeling guilty, counsellors also suggest people allow feelings to slowly subside without feeling guilty. 8. Reflect When you are over the shock of the death, it is often meaningful to do a ritual to help you say what you need to say for closure. Write a letter or do a piece of art, go into the garden or a sacred place, light a candle, speak your words or feelings out loud, speak your truth to the spirit of the beloved, and then bury your token letter or object in a special place. 9. Honour the relationship Personally, I give myself permission to talk to those I love who have passed on, asking for guidance in times of need and sharing special moments. This helps me to honour the relationship we shared and eases my grief. 10. Don’t be afraid to move on Grief counsellors advise not be frightened to let go and move on. One day, you will want to. It isn’t abandoning your loved one or their memory. It is a sacred pledge to continue living, and it is what the departed would want of you. Ruth Ostrow is the author of Sacred & Naked (Hardie Grant Publishers, $29.95), available from all major bookstores. www.ruthostrow.com

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