Thursday, April 25, 2019

Healing After the Death of a Loved One by Christy Monson

My husband of 54 years just passed away 7 weeks ago. As a therapist, I’ve helped many people through the stages of grief and know them well, but when the love of my life died, I still found myself bewildered and in denial.

Stages of grief:
*Denial: This didn't really happen?
*Anger: How could God do this to me?
*Bargaining: If only I had done things differently, this wouldn't have happened.
*Depression: I'm going to feel sad the rest of my life.
*Acceptance: I have my precious memories so my loved one is with me forever.

As I looked at my husband lying on the bed, supposedly taking a nap, I couldn’t believe he had passed away. This isn’t happening to me, I thought. Maybe if I’d just taken better care of him, this wouldn’t have happened.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel each grieving stage as it surfaces for us. Each person will be different.

            Surround yourself with family and friends. Let them comfort you.

Right after he died, I was in a daze, unable to think or act to do the things necessary at the time. Our son came to help me take one step at a time until I was functioning again. I couldn’t have done it alone.

Reduce anxiety and panic:

*Deep breathing techniques: breathe in and out slowly, filling your diaphragm with each breath.
*Daily meditation: study wise teachers or scriptures that bring you comfort.
*Be in the moment: Sit quietly, observe your arms resting on the chair. Be aware of your toes. Notice the rest of your body. Clear your mind and focus on the moment.
*Guided imagery: get comfortable and relax, breathe deeply, count to ten slowly as you picture yourself climbing a set of stairs and coming upon a safe place. Imagine your loved one in this place and talk with him or her about the death and separation. Say how you feel.

My husband’s death took me out of my routine, and I couldn’t focus or function. So, I had to work my program—just like everyone else. I did my deep breathing and meditation daily. Guided imagery brought me comfort. As I relaxed in a chair, I pictured myself walking along the beach. I could see my husband with me, and we discussed what was happening. He gave me his feedback about our problems. It was a comfort to have him with me in my guided imagery. Whenever I am lonely or miss him, I repeat this process.

            Guard against depression:

*Keep a journal: You may write or keep a sketch pad close to record your feelings. Check your mood by recording your feelings in a color collage.
*Keep a gratitude journal
*Plan a memorial service.
*Give service in your loved one’s memory.
*Visit with your religious leaders or friends about your feelings.
*Join a grief group

Decide what the next stage of your life will bring:

*Take some time during your grieving process to plan what the next stage of your life will bring.
*Don’t be in a hurry.
*Listen to other’s advice, but then take time to decide for yourself what direction your life will take.

Christy Monson is a Marriage and Family Therapist, retired from a large practice in Las Vegas, NV. She has authored several self-help books:
            Becoming Free, A Woman’s Guide to Internal Strength
            Love, Hugs, and Hope when Scary Things Happen
            Family Talk

FINDING PEACE IN TIMES OF TRAGEDY will be released Spring of 2019.Disastrous events continue to plague our world, and finding peace in times of trauma can be an overwhelming challenge. Personal shock after a death or tragedy can devastate a family for generations to come. This book discusses how tragedy physically changes the brain and the body, explains the healing techniques of mindfulness, and outlines skills for recovery from trauma.

See the Talk Story Media interview with Christy at www.ShamanicArts.Center.