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Gift of Life Donor Program Tips for Coping With Grief

Grief is a universal response to loss.  Most of us think of grief in terms of responding to the death of someone we love, but we can also experience grief in response to non-death losses such as the end of a relationship, the loss of a job or deterioration of health.  Whether the loss is due to a death or non-death loss, grief is multi-faceted response and there can be a wide range of reactions.

Examples of grief responses:

  • Emotional: anxiety, anger and sadness
  • Physical: change in sleep patterns, muscle tension and headaches 
  • Cognitive: problems concentrating and remembering things 
  • Spiritual: questioning our faith or moving closer to it 

Grief is not a choice. It is a natural response to the kind of losses all of us will experience at one point in our lives.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing grief, below are some tips to help you begin to process and cope: 

  • Acknowledge all of the various emotions you are experiencing.

Although challenging, it is important to sit with and embrace these feelings. These uncertain times are filled with many associated losses and grief. Know that your reactions are NORMAL and OKAY! Some of these emotions may feel contradictory but that is expected.  You can feel grateful for the time you had with that person AND feel cheated that you will not get more years with them.

  • Delineate what you CAN control from what you CANNOT.

In order to distinguish and visualize the two categories, it may be helpful to make a list. If you find yourself veering into “CANNOT CONTROL” territory, this is normal! Pause, take a deep breath, and center on the present moment.  It is common to have unrealistic expectations on how we “should” be coping.  Don’t burden yourself with pressures to cope in a certain way or style.

  • Cultivate and welcome kindness into your day.

Give yourself the permission to take up whatever emotional space you need at this time. If you have the capacity, share the gift of compassion with others. Find ways to meaningfully connect with others. And be open to expressions of kindness and support from others as well.  

  • Engage in healthy habits.

It is important to commit to a routine to establish a sense of normalcy. Set an alarm, shower, and change out of your pajamas. Try your best to eat nutritious food. Give your body the sleep it requires to stay energized and strong. Get outside! Sun provides us with plenty of Vitamin D and fresh air and movement has many benefits for the mind and body.

Please know that Gift of Life Donor Program and Gift of Life Howie’s House are committed to your care. Do not hesitate to contact us for support. Donor families can contact our Family Support Services counselors via email at family2@donors1.org or 1-800-366-6771. Recipients and caregivers are encouraged to connect with Gift of Life Howie’s House social workers at caregiverlifeline@giftoflifehowieshouse.org or 267-421-6975.

Consider saying YES to saving lives. Register to be an organ donor today.

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