Grief, A Natural Response to Loss

by Annell Decker, LPC

Annell Decker, LPC

Grief applies to the loss of a loved one to death, certainly. It is also a natural and normal human response to any big change in life. Even if we initiate the change (new job or house) and there are advantages. Moving is one of the biggest, requiring changes in: friends, medical care, resources, finances, many everyday securities that give us a sense of “home.” Those who are, or have been, in the military or clergy work experience regular moves. Other changes include changing jobs, losing a job, divorce, changes in the family, chronic medical conditions, trauma such as physical or sexual assault, medical or physical handicaps. You can probably think of many more.

What can you do about the feelings of sadness, anger, fear, resentment or confusion? First of all, accept that your feelings are real and valid. Feelings are not bad, they just are. What you do about them can have negative or positive results. Talk to people you trust & who care about you. Write in a journal or make a chart of advantages, disadvantages, or whatever works for you. Putting your thoughts down on paper is very therapeutic. Other ideas are to pray, draw, or paint.

Give yourself some extra time to process feelings, needs & tasks. Ask for or allow others to help. Those who care about you want/need to do something, let them! If you are feeling rushed or pushed into making a decision, take a break to think, talk, pray, write, or meditate until you are more confident.

Getting support from others who have been through the same thing is very valuable. For those who are dealing with specific medical problems, search the internet for support groups & information. If physical or sexual assault is involved, seek the help of professionals. Every county in Texas is served by a crisis center. You can check the phone book for numbers, ask a counselor or clergy. If the change you are grieving is the addiction of someone, look to AL-Anon meetings and literature. Using the Serenity Prayer as a coping skill to sort out a problem can be helpful.

One way to work on resolving childhood trauma is to write a letter, pouring out all the feelings, needs not met, anger & a plan for self-care. Burn the letter as a way to let go, maybe invite a trusted person as a witness to the event. Take extra special care of yourself: take a break, mild physical exercise, pedicure, massage, extra sleep, enjoy nature, learn to meditate, learn how to relax, do activities you enjoy, interact with a pet, bubble bath, or reading.

Helpful books are plentiful. To explore your core beliefs, try The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Spencer Johnson’s The Precious Present and Who Moved My Cheese are good reminders. Techniques in Coping with the Stressed-Out People in Your Life by Ronald Nathan & Marian Stuart also apply to self-help. Check your local library. Any nonfiction book can be obtained through interlibrary loan. If you want your own copy, look for used books on Amazon, or Abe’s Books (out of print books).

Copyright Annell Decker

About the Author: Annell grew up in West Texas and attended five different colleges/universities while raising a family. After her divorce, she returned to college in her 40’s and got a Bachelor’s Degree in History. She intended to teach at a junior college, but took an introduction to counseling class and was hooked. She earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and became a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has been with La Hacienda Treatment Center in Texas since 2003. Her specialty is mature women, mostly dual diagnosis. Annell also teaches the Survivor’s focus group for women due to her training in domestic violence and sexual assault. She volunteers with the local hospital’s No One Dies Alone program.


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