Coping with Grief and Loss
Dr. Angela Christman was a remarkable woman who touched many lives in profound ways. Whether you knew her through the Theology Department, through the Honors Program, as a mentor, advisor, colleague, or friend, or even if you are just learning about Dr. Christman now, this type of loss can impact us in many ways, especially during this time of uncertainty and fear.
Even though we are at a physical distance from each other, it is important to remind yourself that you are not alone. Please reach out to one another to talk about and acknowledge your loss, to share your feelings. Also, rely on your friends, family, and other supports at home and remember that common reactions to loss include:
- Sadness, yearning, depressed mood
- Feelings of helplessness and loss of control
- Fear of death
- Remorse or regret
- Changes in sleep and/or eating patterns
- Anxiety/autonomic nervous system arousal
- Exaggerated startle response
- Increased somatic complaints or physical illnesses, such as headaches, colds, stomach aches, and back pain
Changes in Behavior
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Avoiding stimuli that are reminders of the deceased
- Increased use of alcohol or substances
- Changes in activity level
Changes in Thinking
- Poor concentration
- Confusion, forgetfulness
- Feelings of unreality
- Preoccupation with the deceased
HOW CAN YOU COPE?
It is important to take care of yourself following a sudden loss.
- Talk to family or friends or pastoral support.
- Write in a journal.
- Read poetry or books.
- Pray and seek spiritual support.
- Listen to music.
- Remember other difficult times and how you have survived them. Draw upon your inner strength.
- Be patient with yourself.
- Maintain a normal routine. Even if it is difficult to do regular activities, try to anyway. Putting more structure into a daily routine will help one to feel more in control.
- Get enough sleep, at least plenty of rest.
- Try to get regular exercise. This can help relieve stress and tension.
- Keep a balanced diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Limit alcohol or drug use. Such substances should not be used as a way of masking the pain.
- Do what comforts, sustains, and recharges.
- Seek counseling.
Each one of us has an individual style of coping with painful times. The list above may help you generate ideas about how to manage your feelings of grief. Talking to friends who have dealt with loss in the past can help you generate new ways of coping. Only you know what coping skills will be best for you. Healthy coping skills are important in resolving a loss. They cannot take away your feelings of loss. They can, however, help you move forward in the healing process.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND SUPPORT?
It is often helpful to talk about the loss. The Loyola Counseling Center offers free and confidential counseling. Call 410-617-CARE (2273) for information and to make an appointment. Campus Ministry is also here to support you. Please call 410-617-2222 to talk with a campus minister.