Self Care During Grief Recovery
An Interview with Therapist Michael Luongo
Published by Associated Content, Feb. 5, 2011
Many people forget to take care of themselves when they go through the grief process. A lack of self care is not only an unhealthy approach but also causes the grief process to prolong. To help understand what type of impact grief recovery can have on someone's overall life and for self care tip ideas during grief recovery, I have interviewed therapist Michael Luongo.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
"For the last 10 years, I have been providing licensed psychotherapeutic services. This includes, but is not limited to, individual, couples, family, group, and crisis counseling. Since 2007, I have been in private practice in Chaplin, CT. Due to my experience of working with a broad spectrum of clientele, I take all different types of referrals, but I feature Grief Issues & Medical Issues in my practice."
What type of impact can a grief recovery period have on someone's overall life?
"Of course, it depends upon the person. What I will say, though, is that our society does not put enough emphasis on healthfully grieving a loved one. If you look at most companies, they give three days off for grieving time. This is just not enough. Most people haven't even begun to grieve in the first three days. They are busy taking care of funeral arrangements and other matters.
If a person is given time to go though the grief process, they are allowed to feel a host of difficult emotions. These emotions can be painful, but, ultimately, it will get them to a healthier place. It is important to remember that loss comes in many different forms (i.e. divorce, loss of a job, etc.). Also, some forms of loss can be particularly difficult to process (i.e. suicide, death of a child, etc.). These types of losses bring with them their own specific obstacles. Some people, also, get stuck in the grief process. This, I have learned, is known as Complicated Grief. Someone who gets stuck in the process, more than likely, needs professional assistance to work through the different stages of grief.
Ultimately, though, given time, a person grows and gains strength after a loss. They find hope. They begin to see life after the loss. They are able to incorporate the person or the special moments that were important to them into their present life. They can be happy again."
What are some self-care tips you can give to help someone better cope with the grief recovery period?
"It is important that, when a person experiences a loss, they be patient with themselves. Many people think that they shouldn't be in so much emotional pain. They need to accept what they are feeling, so that they can work past it. It is important for them to allow family and friends to help them. It is important to talk to family and friends about what they are going through. A person does not always have to be strong and do it alone. In fact, connecting with others can be extremely therapeutic and not connecting with others can prolong the grief process. They are allowed to be human and being human is about accepting that you aren't going to be perfect and you need others.
During this time, it is important to do things for yourself. While you are hurting, sometimes, the simple pleasures can keep you going. So, find things that make you happy (i.e. reading a favorite book, going out with friends, watching a sporting event, etc.). These things may seem inconsequential, but they can help."
What type of professional help is available for someone who is having a difficult time taking care of himself or herself during the recovery period?
"The good thing is there are many different options for people who are seeking help. If you are struggling, you can talk to your primary care physician. They can be very helpful at making appropriate referrals. You can look into seeing a mental health professional (i.e. a psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.). They may be able to see you individually or connect you with a group that focuses on grief issues. You can contact an organization like Hospice. They either have or know of support groups that you can get involved with. Many times, losses cause a crisis of faith. Talking to clergy can also bring about healing."
Jaleh holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling. She enjoys teaching children, writing, traveling, trying new foods and celebrating life with family and friends.
Reprinted with permission.