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Posts Tagged ‘grief’

When my March 19th blog Certainty in Uncertain Times posted, I was unsure what was going to happen with my work, my community, our state, or our nation. With so many unknowns, I could not allow myself to go down the road of “what if’s”, so I chose to focus on things I knew were steadfast. Even as I wrote that blog, I realized I have many privileges. I have realized even more over the past several weeks just how fortunate I am.

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While we have learned a lot about Coronavirus and flattening the curve, there are still many unknowns. When will a vaccine be developed? How long will we have to maintain social distancing? Am I or my family going to contract the virus? How will the economy rebound? All these unknowns and more can cause anxiety and other emotions. It is important to recognize and try to manage these thoughts and feelings if we are to move through these challenges.

My husband and I are fortunate to work for organizations that are supportive of their employees and our overall health and well-being. My supervisor checks in with me regularly. We are encouraged to do things to take care of ourselves and our families. Rearranging our work hours if needed, taking time off, engaging in professional development opportunities (virtually of course), adjusting our workloads, and other reasonable accommodations are all possibilities.

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My children are older and can take care of themselves, do their own homework, and even help around the house, so I have been able work from home with little to no interruptions. Some colleagues and many of you have young children who need more time and attention. My kids understand the reasons for all the changes, though they are not happy about them. We have conversations about the different ramifications of our current situation and what the future might look like.

It was no surprise when our governor announced that schools will not resume this year. My high school sophomore daughter is not happy, but she is a high-performing student, so completing school on-line is not really an issue. This is not the case for many. The adjustment for her and my college sophomore son has been the hardest part for me. Neither of them expected to end the year this way, but at least they have two more. For the seniors and their parents, it’s a different story. They have not had the celebrations and the closure that comes from all the “lasts”.

As restrictions are starting to lift in several areas, many people may be anxious about transitioning back to work and back to the usual routines of daily life. I am co-chair of the Work/Life/HR sub-committee of the COVID-19 Transition Team for our college. The concerns of faculty, staff, and students about returning to work or school is critical to our planning. NAMI Ohio gives these tips to help with the transition back to work:

  1. IT’S OKAY TO BE ANXIOUS
  2. GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
  3. EMBRACE THE RETURN TO STRUCTURE
  4. GET SOME SLEEP, PET YOUR DOG

As our team and thousands of similar groups across the state and the nation begin to plan for a return to work, the health and safety of employees is at the forefront. Many organizations are considering the physical safety of their buildings, as well as the cultural and social aspects of returning to “business as usual.” These are just a few of the things our team will be considering as we provide recommendations to our Dean. While I must consider many unknowns as part of this team, I remain focused on the present and on the things I can do right now to help myself, my family, my colleagues, and my community to continue to be resilient in the face of the challenges we still face.

What have you found effective in coping with the COVID-19 changes?

Writer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Reviewer: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). How to Improve Mental Health https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=april_22_2020

Grabmeier, J. (2020). Survey shows how Ohioans’ views on COVID-19 have evolved. Ohio State News. https://news.osu.edu/survey-shows-how-ohioans-views-on-covid-19-have-evolved/

Harmon, M. (2020). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Johnson, A. (2020). Tips to Manage Anxiety When Returning to Work. NAMI Ohio. https://mailchi.mp/namiohio/helpathome-1389521?e=93084d4f8d

O’Neill, S. (2020). Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It’s OK To Grieve. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/26/820304899/coronavirus-has-upended-our-world-its-ok-to-grieve

Allen, J. & Macomber, J. (2020). What Makes an Office Building “Healthy.” Harvard Business Review.  https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-makes-an-office-building-healthy

Scammahorn, R. (2020). A Time to Build Resilience. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/04/27/a-time-to-build-resilience/

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A toddler sitting in the grass with plastic Easter eggs

Yesterday was Easter. Under normal circumstances, my family would gather at my grandparents house in observance of the holiday for an after-church lunch, and then an egg hunt for the little ones. This year was noticeably different. My husband and I watched a live-streaming church service from home and then ate lunch in our kitchen with our 1 year-old son. We did, however, take our son out for his first egg hunt! My grandparents watched from their porch while my husband and I helped our son find eggs they “hid” in their yard.

Reflecting on Easter 2020, I found the activity of naming gratitude and loss to be a helpful way to identify and process the various emotions I have experienced this season. We all have experienced loss this season, with some losses being bigger than others. Many have felt the impact of canceled vacations, sports seasons, concerts and other events. Some have lost loved ones. Family traditions and celebrations for holidays, birthdays, weddings and other events have been modified. It is normal and natural to experience grief associated with these losses. Naming your losses is a way to identify and validate the emotions you feel as you grieve.

Don’t stop with naming losses, however; take time to make a list of things for which you are grateful as well! Pairing a list of gratitude with your list of losses does not minimize the impact of your loss, and it can help you remain hopeful and optimistic during difficult times. Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact of gratitude practice on overall health, ability to cope with stress and outlook in general.

In my reflection regarding this holiday weekend, I took time to appreciate the opportunity I had to visit with my grandparents, even though it was a non-traditional visit. My son is happy and healthy, which is a true blessing.

What are you grateful for this season?

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

Sources:

Griffin, B.R. (2020). Naming loss and gratitude with young people in these uncertain days. Fuller Youth Institute. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/naming-loss-and-gratitude-with-young-people

Miller, K.D. (2020). 14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude According to Science. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

 

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Child in Santa hat looking out the window on a rainy day
Child in Santa hat looking out the window on a rainy day

It’s December and the holiday season is in full swing. For many, the holidays are a time of joy and excitement, but for others, the holidays are filled with sorrow and grief. While many of us look forward to get-togethers and celebrations with family and friends, others may dread these occasions because they are reminded of the losses they have experienced.

When we talk about loss and grief, most people think of the loss of a loved one, which is certainly a common reason for grief. However, there are many reasons people may feel loss or grief. I teach Successful Co-Parenting and we explain how going through a divorce may cause similar feelings due to the loss of all the things/ideas/plans/people the couple had together that are not going to happen now. When someone retires, they may have mixed emotions of happiness that they have more time to do the things they want and/or sorrow about feeling that they have no purpose or meaning anymore. With all the weather issues of the past couple years and with fluctuating commodity prices, many farmers/farm families have been forced to give up their way of life. Some have had to sell their farms and/or animals in order to survive the uncertainty that mother nature and the future brings. Loss of a job or unemployment can also trigger feelings of grief.

flooded farm field
Flooded farm field

According to the HelpGuide article, Coping with Grief and Loss, grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.

So, as we go through the holiday season and beyond, it’s important that we recognize and understand that grief and the grieving process looks different for everyone. Here are some tips from AARP for dealing with grief during the holidays:

  1. Only do what feels right– decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle.
  2. Accept your feelings, whatever they might be– however you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs.
  3. Call on your family and friends– be honest about how you’d like to do things this year — if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it’s OK.
  4. Focus on the kids– many holidays place special attention on children, and it often helps to focus on their needs.
  5. Plan ahead– create comforting activities in the weeks approaching a holiday so that you have something to look forward to rather than building up a dread of the pain the holiday could bring.
  6. Scale back– if the thought of many holiday activities feels painful, overwhelming or inappropriate this year, cutting back may help.
  7. Give– it’s amazing how in times of grief, sometimes the biggest comfort is to give to others.
  8. Acknowledge those who have passed on– when we are grieving a loss of someone very close to us, it can be helpful to participate in a related holiday ritual in his or her memory.
  9. Do something different– acknowledge that things have changed; indeed, the holiday will not be the same as it was ever again.
  10. Skip it– if you feel that it will be too much for you and you’d like to simply opt out of participation in a holiday, let family and friends know.

By using some of these tips, hopefully the holidays don’t have to be a time of sorrow and grief. If you or someone you love exhibits any of the following symptoms, seeking professional help is advised:

  1. Feel like life isn’t worth living.
  2. Wish you had died with your loved one.
  3. Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it.
  4. Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks.
  5. Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss.
  6. Are unable to perform your normal daily activities.

Here’s hoping that you can find some joy and comfort over the holidays and in to the new year!

Writer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Sources:

Curiel, Ashley. (2016). The Least Wonderful Time of the Year? Good Therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/holidays-least-wonderful-time-of-year-1216164

Goyer, Amy. (2012). Dealing With Grief During the Holiday Season. AARP. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-12-2012/death-loss-christmas-holidays-goyer.html

Pappas, Stephanie. (2019). Unique pressures put America’s farmers under stress. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/farmers-under-stress

Smith, M., Segal, J., and Robinson, L. (2019). Job Loss and Unemployment Stress. HelpGuide. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/job-loss-and-unemployment-stress.htm

Smith, M., Segal, J., and Robinson, L. (2019). Coping with Grief and Loss. HelpGuide. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

Photos:

https://pixabay.com/photos/rainy-christmas-grief-child-kid-83136/

https://pixabay.com/photos/arable-field-flood-wet-ground-406153/

https://pixabay.com/photos/pants-bag-list-wrench-job-search-1255851/

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Holidays seem like they should be a joyful time, but when you’ve experienced a loss, the grief can make you painfully aware of the sharp contrast between how you feel and what the holidays ‘should’ bring. These tips may help you get through a difficult time.

  1. Only do what is doable. Holiday time tends to be busier than usual and it’s easy to overload your calendar. This can leave you feeling tired and burned out. It’s up to you to decide which activities you will participate in. It’s okay to say no.
  2. Accept your feelings. The way we experience and express grief is different for everyone. There is no timeline or ‘normal’ path through grief. Holidays can intensify grief because we tend to make a lot of memories with our loved ones at celebrations. Some people feel guilty when they have period of joy. Whatever your feelings, accept them as they come with each up and down.
  3. Ask for help. Reach out to family or close friends who can lighten your load. Maybe they could run an errand for you, or maybe you just need someone to listen to you.
  4. Plan ahead. A little planning can save you time, money and hassle. Combine some errands. Save some time for yourself in all the planning. Create some comforting rituals that help you take care of yourself.
  5. Scale back. Simplify your giving. Cut your Christmas card list in half. Don’t bake quite as much. Put up fewer decorations. There are many ways to simplify at holiday time.
  6. Give. Consider giving to a charity in memory of your loved one. Volunteer to serve others for a cause that honors your loved one. Making a positive difference in someone else’s life can be brighten our spirits as well.memory
  7. Acknowledge those who have passed on. It can help with healing to honor the memory of loved ones in a special way during the holidays. Perhaps you can light a candle in their honor or share stories about them.
  8. Do something different. Sometimes traditions and rituals help us remember special times with loved ones. Other times it may be more painful to experience the tradition without a loved one. This might be just the year to start a new tradition. You could go to a different location to celebrate, maybe even a good time to get away for a bit. Do what seems right for you this year.

References:

Goyer, A. “Dealing with Grief During the Holiday Season: 10 things to help get you through this difficult time. AARP. Dec. 2012.

Alvord, M., Fu, M. & Palmiter, D. “Making the most of the holiday season.” American Psychological Association. Nov. 2016.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

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