Rebuilding Your Life After Loss

Story by Gladeen Allred, Aging Advocates

Grief is one of the heaviest emotions the heart can be asked to bear.  Many losses in our life can invoke grief reactions. Feelings of loss can be created by small things, such as losing an important item or larger things, such as moving to a new place, loss of a dear friend, a beloved pet, or a family member.  Although people do not “get over” the loss of a beloved spouse of many years or the death of a child, they can learn to reassemble the broken pieces of their life and grow and heal because of their loss, not in spite of it. Grief and mourning impact us in all four realms of experience: emotional, physical, social, and spiritual.

Emotional.  Immediately after a loss, a person may feel a numbing calm, followed by feelings of denial.  Other emotional reactions include anger, disorganization, confusion, anxiety, and fear. It is a paradox that the only way to lessen pain is to move toward it, not away from it. It is important to take time for the grieving process by talking about the loss with a supportive person or group. Several grief groups are offered in the Stillwater community.  GriefShare recovery support groups meet weekly at several locations in Stillwater, including First Baptist Church, 701 South Duncan on Sundays at 6:00 p.m. and Crosspoint Church, 1807 N. Jardot, on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Karman Legacy Hospice will offer grief groups in the spring. For more information, call 405-377-8012.

Physical.  In addition to emotional reactions, there can be a physical side of grief.  Many areas of our body react under stress. Exercise can be therapeutic for a grieving person’s mind and emotions and may relieve physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and weakness, while improving sleep. Always check with your physician first.  An exercise class at Total Health or YMCA can help provide focus, a sense of purpose and a sense of control. Many studies indicate exercise can change the level of serotonin in the brain, the endorphins which improve mood. Walking also has many health benefits.

Social. Another tool to use in rebuilding life after loss is the development of new activities and new friendships. Helping others can nurture a sense of purpose, and improve mood and self-esteem. Stillwater offers many volunteer opportunities.  Volunteers are needed at Our Daily Bread, Elite Repeat or Karman Korner resale shops, the Humane Society, or Stillwater Medical Center Auxiliary, and other agencies. Being a part of a group can create a feeling of belonging. You can find more volunteer opportunities at the United Way of Payne County Volunteer Center. More than forty agencies and nonprofits are registered with the Volunteer Center located at 109 E. Ninth Ave.

Spiritual.  Forgiveness, prayer and meditation can create spiritual healing by allowing the person to let go of the hurt, resentment, and bitterness that can be a part of loss. When they are able to fully enjoy life and living again, they will have achieved reconciliation of their grief.

For more information and resources related to aging and caring for the aged, make plans to attend the next Aging Advocates next workshop. “Replenishing the Vessel: Self-care is not Selfish” will be on Wednesday, February 20, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Lytton Lounge of First Christian Church. Materials and light refreshments will be provided.

About Aging Advocates

Aging Advocates, a group of area businesses and agencies in the Payne County area meet monthly to advocate for older adults. From their experiences, they innovate ideas and raise awareness of older adult issues. It is important to look at the developing needs of the aging population and support, educate, and identify services valuable to a life fully lived.