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Dealing with the Grief Work of Losing One's Health
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2002
What You Should Do
- If you are comfortable in praying, say a prayer for the Lord to comfort your loved ones and you at this time. Ask God for help in making the appropriate choices in medication or other medical choices, so you will have the mental capacity to think clearly enough to make good decisions, also for help in knowing what to say and do for your family. Sometimes the things doctors tell you to do are not really the best thing for you at this time. Only prayer will help you to know this. As God to guide you to the answers you need to make the best decisions for you and the strength to stand up for and get what you need.
- If you are affiliated with a church group, contact the pastor/bishop, or his/her counterpart so s/he can give aid to your family and you.
- It is best to talk out your feelings instead of holding them in. Find people you can trust and talk to. This may be a combination of close friends, counselor, doctor, and/or a religious leader.
- Friends can be a support and comfort. Don't send them away. Your having a long-term health problem does funny things to the people you know. Do not expect that they will always be there for you. Many do not know what to do or say to someone who has continual health problems, so instead of doing the wrong thing they stay away. Don't hold this against them. They just do not know how to help you and listening to the continuous litany of problems sends them running the other direction.
- You need to talk. You need answers from those who know what you are going through. Join your local chapter of the disease you have and attend their group sessions. Talk with them about your feelings and needs. This will enable you to deal with your fears, sorted out your thoughts, and gain an insights as to the direction you should proceed. Getting your grief out enables you to take the fear and sting out of the health-loss.
- Do not dwell on the loss or it will eat you up. Instead of looking at what you cannot do, look at what you can still do. Praise the Lord for all the good still left in your life and ask for His help in coping with what you will have to go through.
The Stages of Grief
You will be experiencing specific behaviors gone through by all those who are experiencing a great loss. Your loved ones may also go through these. Many of these steps may be repeated, skipped, or may happen in any order. They are:
- Denial - Denying that the death has occurred or is going to occur.
- Anger - Angry because it has or is going to happen. Some express anger against God. How could He let this happen. Why me! Why now!
- Bargaining - Many try to bargain with God, saying that if He spares their loved one or themselves from death that they promise to doing certain things to gain release from the impending death.
- Depression - When bargaining hasn't worked, an individual may go into depression. Those who have suffered a loss of a loved one tend to go into a form of depression.
* Forms of depression may be sadness, inactivity, difficulty thinking and concentrating, a significant increase or decrease in appetite, and/or time spent sleeping, feeling of dejection and hopelessness, having suicidal thoughts, and/or suicide.
- Acceptance - Finally when the person has exhausted all avenues to thwart death they come to except it and plan for it. Those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, in this stage, try to get on with their lives. Many find the solace to do this in realizing that there is life after death and that they may see the loved one again. This is a testimony gained through personal prayer with one's God.
- The anguish and emotional upheaval from the death of a loved one takes at approximately one year to get one's public emotions under control.
- It takes an additional two to five years to get internal emotions under control to get through special anniversary dates like birth dates and holidays. It's hard to gain control while being constantly reminded of the deceased through special songs, smells, colors, clothing, places, history, and mutual friends. Don't expect to get over the death easily. Pray often for the Lord to help your loved ones and you get through these times.
- By the same token, if you are constantly depressed and prefer isolation or have suicidal thoughts, you need psychological help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Get help NOW!
Reference: Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth (1969) Death and Dying