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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Rainbow, Weather, Nature, Mood, Natural Phenomenon
Rainbow over green fields

When I wrote my blog Certainty in Uncertain Times in March, little did I know how many things would change over the next 8 months. I didn’t know I would still be working primarily from home, not see my colleagues for a year except on Zoom, all the conferences I attend would be virtual, do teaching mostly via Zoom, and despite it all, my family and I would be doing mostly well. It seems like yesterday I was packing things up from my office that I would need to work from home for a couple weeks.

While the changes have been difficult, I continue to focus on things I can control. My colleague wrote a blog in March about flattening the curve and my family has practiced the recommendations provided by the experts. Thankfully, our efforts have kept us healthy so far. While it has not been easy, we continue to focus on the reasons we choose to make these small sacrifices. We cannot control others, but we can do our part.

As challenging as it has been, there have been opportunities to grow my comfort zone. I have collaborated with colleagues from across the state to provide a variety of webinars, classes, and other projects. I have participated in professional development opportunities virtually, I have learned more about Zoom than I ever imagined I would, and I have embraced things (like Zoom) that I might never have.

As much as I have adapted and grown, it has not been all fun and games. I miss my co-workers, my colleagues, my participants, and my community partners. Not interacting with people face to face is hard for me and it has been the most difficult and stressful part of this entire situation.

OSU’s Chief Wellness Officer Bern Melnyk developed the acrostic COPE with COVID early in the pandemic to help people deal with stress:

Control the things that you can, not the things you can’t

Open up and share your feelings

Practice daily stress reduction tactics, including physical activity

Engage in mindfulness; be here now; worry will not help!

Count your blessings daily

Overturn negative thoughts to positive

Volunteer to help others

Identify helpful supports and resources

Do your part to prevent spread of the virus

Horizon, Sky, Sunset, Ocean, Water, Sea, Beach, Orange
Sun setting over the ocean

There are days when this is easier than others. The Mayo Clinic offers these tips to help increase resilience:

Get connected. Build strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends to provide needed support and acceptance.

Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider skills and strategies that helped.

Remain hopeful. You can’t change the past, but you can always look toward the future.

Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques.

Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. Figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action.

As we continue to deal with challenges and changes, we can look for positive ways to grow and move forward. While it may seem that it has been a long time and that it may never end, this too shall pass, eventually. This quote from Friedrich Nietzche sums up my feelings, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” I hope you can focus on your why to help you get through your how.

Written by: Misty Harmon, OSU Extension Educator, Perry County harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Melissa J. Rupp, OSU Extension Educator, Fulton County  rupp.26@osu.edu

References:

Harmon, M. (2020, January 28). How Comfortable are You? Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/01/30/how-comfortable-are-you/

Lobb, J. (2020, March 13). Flattening the Curve. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/16/flattening-the-curve/

Harmon, M. (2020, March 19). Certainty in Uncertain Times. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/03/19/certainty-in-uncertain-times/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, October 27). How to build resiliency. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311

Melynk, B. (n.d.). COVID-19 Resources. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://wellness.osu.edu/chief-wellness-officer/covid-19-resources

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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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