Loss can come in many forms: the loss of a loved one, one’s own health, a home, a job or a cherished dream. Grief is a natural response to any kind of loss.

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five stages to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Grief experts have since added shock or disbelief, and we know now that a myriad of feelings can be experienced simultaneously in a great wave of emotion, especially with the loss of a loved one.

A caring season brings grief at different levels as well as anticipatory grief.  Anticipatory grief can be even more complicated because we might feel guilt from the feelings we are experiencing. We often experience the need to maintain hope at the same time begin to let go of our parent or loved on, the relationship we once had or even the dreams of what we thought would be in the future.

While it is natural to experience some or all of these emotions, there are ways to facilitate the process.

Respond True or False to the following statements to discover how well you are coping with grief and loss.

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Journaling and other creative outlets help me explore and express what I’m feeling.

I cry often and am afraid I won’t ever be able to stop.

In order to better handle my grief, I try to get enough sleep, eat well and avoid numbing my pain with alcohol or other substances and behaviors.

I have trouble falling asleep and, when I do, my sleep is restless and I wake up feeling tired.

Although I am still deeply grieving, I worry that I should be over it by now, or that others think I should have moved on already.

I have a support group, coach or counselor, along with the support of my friends and family, to help me work through my intense emotions and overcome obstacles to my grieving.

I draw comfort from meditation, prayer and spending time in nature. These activities help me take a more spiritual view of my situation.

I don’t feel much interest in activities that I used to really enjoy.

I know that trying to avoid my pain will only prolong my grieving; therefore, I make time to really face all my feelings.

I don’t want to burden my friends and loved ones with my grief so I put on a smile and hide what I’m really feeling.

I feel empty inside and am not sure anymore what point there is in going on.

Although my feelings are all over the place and sometimes I feel as if I am “going crazy,” I know that this is a normal response to loss.

I feel as if I have to be strong for others, so I focus on taking care of them instead of myself.

How Are You Coping?
You still have a real smile!

The smile is forced!

There are no smiles to be found!

Just tell us who you are to view your results!

Disclaimer: this is an informal activity meant for leisure only, and not for formal guidance on being a caretaker.

Rayna Neises: A Season of Caring

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