Pet therapy has become very popular in hospitals and universities across the globe. Indeed, interactions with these trained animals can be extremely comforting and calming, especially during stressful and challenging times.
Usually pet therapy includes dogs and cats that have been trained and are assisted by a handler. They are calm, friendly, and approachable, and should be comfortable interacting with humans, even strangers and those who are not used to having pets around.
It appears pet therapy, especially dogs, has yet another use. Many funeral homes provide grief therapy dogs as part of their service, and this is of great help to many who are grieving and mourning the recent loss of a loved one.
What do grief therapy dogs do at funerals?
When a funeral home offers the services of a grief therapy dog, it is usually for funerals and memorial services. They can even be helpful during the funeral planning process. For instance, if a child has lost a loved one, chances are they may not be comfortable talking about their feelings, or they may be unable to express their grief. At such times, a grief therapy dog can help in providing comfort and a sense of peace and companionship.
It is not just children who can benefit from the services of grief therapy dogs. Even adults and seniors can experience the same feelings of comfort from therapy dogs while they are mourning.
With their unique skill sets, grief therapy dogs can sense the stress, emotions, and anxiety of the solemn atmosphere at funerals and during the funeral planning process. This enables them to contribute positive interactions with those who are grieving.
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Due to their immense value, many funeral homes are now including grief therapy dogs as part of their staff. The success of therapy dogs shows that words are not always required. Sometimes all it takes is a loving, positive, and calming presence.
It’s that time of the year again when the holiday season is starting to kick in and Halloween is just around the corner. For most people, it’s a time to dress up in costumes and go trick or treating and party with friends and family, but if you have recently lost a loved one, this may be a difficult time for you.
There may be different reasons why you may not be all that excited for Halloween. Maybe you have lost someone you love during this time of the year, or maybe you have lost someone recently. Perhaps, the person you lost used to love Halloween and now it’s not just the same without them. Maybe all you have now are bittersweet memories that only make it more difficult for you to cope with your grief. It could also be that you simply don’t enjoy Halloween because of what the festival represents.
If you find it difficult to cope with your grief during Halloween, here are a few tips that may be able to help you.
When you have loved ones by your side, it’s much easier to handle anything at all. So, if you are feeling lonely or if your bittersweet memories are too much to handle, surround yourself with friends and family during this time.
Writing down your feelings is a great way to understand your emotions better. It gives you a sense of clarity that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Perhaps you can even gain a better understanding of why this time of the year is so difficult for you and what you can do about it.
If you just don’t want to deal with the festivities, take a trip somewhere alone or with close friends. Enjoying yourself in a new place may even help you gain a new perspective.
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Grieving the loss of a loved one is a difficult time in your life. Even when you have lost someone you love before, it does not make it any less painful. The truth is no one can prepare for death and the grief that comes along with it, which is why having the right support during these times is critical. You may find these books helpful.
If you want a detailed book that may be able to help you through your grieving process step by step, this book is perfect. Written by a grief therapist who has counselled thousands of people who lost their loved ones, Linda writes with empathy and practicality.
This is a famous book that started a national discussion on the five stages of grief. Elisabeth Kubler Ross was a renowned psychiatrist who, along with David Kessler, wrote this book from their professional knowledge, personal experiences, and case studies.
This book by famous writer Joan Didion provides readers with front-row seats to her life after the sudden death of her husband in 2003, when she had to take care of an unconscious daughter lying in a hospital bed while also dealing with the loss of her husband for 40 years.
This book gives a different and unique view of grieving and mourning, claiming that it could be transformative and even liberating. Author Jerusha Hull McCormack wrote it after she lost her husband, and she didn't know any other widow to help her get through the pain. So, she decided to write this book for others who are mourning.
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Losing a loved one can be a devastating experience, one for which you can never prepare yourself. It takes a massive toll on your mental health, as you find yourself dealing with all kinds of turbulent emotions. This is precisely why it is so crucial for you to take extra care of your mental health during this time. Here are a few tips to help you with the distress.
Acknowledge and accept your emotions
It is important that you do not try to ignore what you are feeling. You may think that if you don’t want to experience the pain, you simply ignore it, and it will go away on its own. That’s not the way emotions or grieving works.
Understand that you must not run away from your emotions and instead learn to acknowledge them. Whether you are feeling hurt, angry, sad, lonely, or confused, know that it’s reasonable to go through these emotions.
Understand that grief has different stages
In psychology, grief has five different stages – denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance. Understand that during your grieving process, you will go through each of these stages like any other person but in your own time.
There is no set timeline for the stages, and you may even find yourself falling back on previous steps at times. Being aware of the process may therefore be able to help you cope better.
Have the right balance of spending time by yourself and having good company
Last but not least, it’s essential that you spend quality time with yourself as well as others while you grieve. You may want to be alone at times, which is entirely okay, but remember not to isolate yourself completely. Surround yourself with people who make you feel comfortable and who understand what you are going through.
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We are all aware of the mental and emotional symptoms of grief. But when you lose a loved one, it’s not just your mind that is affected. Your body and physical health can be affected too.
Below, we discuss the common physical symptoms of grief that are often overlooked.
While you are grieving, you may find that you have body pains such as back pain, stiffness and soreness, joint pain, headaches, etc. These are results of the increase in the amount of stress hormones released.
While you are grieving, you are under large amounts of stress. This can affect your immune system, making you more susceptible to fever, common flu, headaches, and other types of ailments. The surge in stress hormones affects the production of certain white blood cells, weakening your immune system and leaving you prone to illnesses.
Respiratory issues are another common physical symptom of grief. You may find that you have difficulty breathing, or you have a heavy feeling in your chest. Some people even have panic attacks where they are unable to breathe during the episode.
You are under a lot of mental, emotional and physical stress when you grieve, so it’s completely normal to feel like you don’t have any energy to do the things you normally do. Fatigue is one of the most common physical symptoms of grief.
You may find that your appetite has suddenly decreased or increased. Some people change their eating habits drastically. While some find it difficult to even eat, some resort to comfort food, using food as a means of coping with their loss.
Heart problems are also quite common among those who are grieving. Studies have found that a person’s chance of having a heart attack increases with the death of a loved one.
Be sure to consult a health professional to determine the need for assistance when the symptoms become bothersome or life-threatening.
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The grief experienced once you lose someone can be a lot to handle, and it is imperative that you deal with it constructively. Out of all the ways you can cope, grief journaling is among the best and also suitable for many. Here are the reasons why:
Helps you gain a better understanding of your feelings
When you write, you are likely to gain a much better understanding of your feelings. Even if you feel like your emotions are all jumbled up, chances are you’ll have a more unobstructed view of your feelings when you put down your thoughts on paper. Writing allows you to take a step back and self-reflect, thus revealing things you may have kept hidden in your subconscious.
Allows you to remember your loved one
Grief journaling will enable you to relive the fond memories of your loved one. By writing what you love about them, what they mean to you and why they mean so much to you, you let yourself remember them in a positive light. You can even write letters to them, saying everything you’ve wanted to tell them. This can be very therapeutic.
Writing about your trauma has physical benefits
It’s not just mental and emotional benefits grief journaling provides. A study has found that when people write about their own traumatic experiences, like the loss of a loved one, they eventually enjoy physical benefits as well. Physical stress responses like heart rate and blood pressure tend to go up when you are grieving, but after putting down your thoughts on paper, these are likely to lower.
Allows you to record your journey in a safe space
Grief journaling allows you to let out all your thoughts and emotions in a safe space. You can record your own journey of grieving and healing any way you want, without fearing being judged by anyone.
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When you lose someone you love and care about, grief is a natural response. However, mourning the loss of a loved one is never something easy.
Different people cope with loss in different ways. While some grieve alone, others prefer to be surrounded by friends and family. Some wish to talk about their feelings, while others would rather keep things to themselves.
For many, travelling is a great way to cope with the grief of losing a loved one. Allowing yourself to be surrounded by new people in a new environment can be a breath of fresh air. Besides, it is often said that you cannot heal in the same environment that hurt you, which is why a change in scenery can be a great way to help you cope with grief.
There are different kinds of grief travel that you can go on based on how you are dealing with your loss. We discuss these in detail below:
If you find yourself grieving acutely, then a restorative travel may be the best option for you. This is ideal for those who are not yet ready to return to their normal daily lives. A restorative travel includes visiting friends and family, or people who are close to you, and spend quality time with them. Allow them to take care of you, provide you with food, shelter and companionship. This allows you to slowly come back to normal life at your own pace and on your own terms.
If you are someone who can process your emotions more easily when you have a physical outlet, then a physically active travel is ideal for you. You can go backpacking and explore a new city, or you can go camping, surfing, or kayaking. There are plenty of other options.
A contemplative travel allows you to really explore your emotions and understand your grief better. This is great if you are further along in your grief journey and you are ready to spend time alone.
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When you lose a loved one, you need all the support you can get while you are facing immense difficulties. Coming to terms with your loss is no easy task, and often, talking about it with others, or listening to someone who has gone through the same thing can be very helpful.
Below, we list some podcasts you can listen to, helping you deal with the pain:
This podcast by Shelby Forsythia, as the name suggests, allows listeners to come to life after a major loss. This can be death, divorce, illness, etc. As much as it is important to grieve, it is important to know how to get back on track, and this podcast is perfect to help you with that. http://www.shelbyforsythia.com/comingback
Jana DeCristofaro, who is a licensed social worker, hosts this podcast by the Dougy Center. You can tune into conversations about hardships that are often not discussed as they should be. You’ll get all kinds of content from personal stories to tips for dealing with grief from professionals. https://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/grief-out-loud-podcast/
The goal of this podcast is to make death and dying topics that we can freely and openly discuss without feeling uncomfortable, because they are, after all, part of our lives. Different guests are brought on the show, where they discuss various topics surrounding death and dying. https://www.artofdyingwell.org/
Hosted by Heather Stang, who holds a Master’s Degree in Thanatology (which is the study of death, dying, and bereavement), provides this podcast designed for those who are grieving, as well as bereavement professionals. As the name suggests the podcast aims to teach listeners how a mindful approach to despair can help you understand and deal with your emotions better. https://mindfulnessandgrief.com/category/podcast/
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It is often said that no matter how many times you lose your loved ones to death, it is something you can never get used to. In other words, just because you have lost an important person in your life before doesn’t mean it will hurt less when you lose another person.
Death is something for which we cannot always prepare. Losing a loved one can be an overwhelmingly negative experience, and in order to get through it, it is crucial that you stay away from unhealthy grieving and mourning or coping mechanisms. When you lose someone to death, you become vulnerable as it is an experience that affects your cognition and emotion, as well as physical health. This is exactly why it is all the more important to grieve and cope with your loss in healthy and positive ways.
Here are some of the most common unhealthy grieving/coping mechanisms that you should avoid:
A common reaction to death of a loved one is living in denial. Many people pretend that the person is not gone, or don’t want to accept the fact that they are not with them any longer, so they live in denial to fill up the space their loss has created.
Another unhealthy coping mechanism is resorting to negative, ineffective habits so that you can avoid your real feelings and emotions. People are scared to face their real feelings because they think they won’t be able to take it, so they distract themselves instead.
You don’t have to pretend to be strong when you have lost a loved one. It can be easy to pressure yourself into acting like you are coping extremely well, but bottling up your feelings can have disastrous effects.
And never be afraid to get help from professionals like grief counsellors, ministers or grief therapy organizations.
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While Valentine’s Day could be an exciting holiday full of pleasant surprises for many couples, it could also be the exact opposite for those who are mourning the loss of their partners.
Losing a loved one to death is a painful experience, and the pain can be even more excruciating when everyone seems to be celebrating the fact that they are happily in love. Here are some tips that you should remember to help you cope with your grief on Valentine’s Day:
You may think that you have to put on a brave face and hide your emotions while everyone else is celebrating their romance but the truth is that you can grieve freely without having to pretend. Don’t feel pressured to feel comfortable with the idea of the holiday. Instead, allow yourself to cope however you need to. Coping doesn’t always have to be something beautiful and positive. What matters is you get through it.
If it’s been a while since the death and you feel like it’s time to let go and move on with your life, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. If you feel comfortable enough, a great way to declare to yourself that you are moving on is to bury something that belonged to the deceased. Moving on doesn't mean forgetting; it means merely accepting and living your own life.
Why don’t you decide to be your own Valentine for the day? A great way to cope with grief is to understand your worth and that you deserve to be celebrating yourself. Do whatever you need to feel good, whether it’s waking up early, putting on some cozy clothes and drinking hot chocolate, or whether it’s going out with friends.
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