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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Losing a loved one is difficult as it is, especially if you’ve lost them this year. Now that a whole new year is stretching ahead of us, you may wonder how to find the strength to carry on.
Perhaps, your new year’s resolution is to allow yourself to move on and welcome the new year on a positive note. It is completely okay and normal if you are somehow relieved that you are finally leaving behind a year that has been marked with such a great loss. Many people often feel guilty for wanting to move on, for feeling this “relief”, but it is important for you to know that it is okay. You are allowed to move on with your life after losing a loved one.
Perhaps you do not feel relieved. Maybe you are anxious about the coming new year, worried about how you are going to move on to a whole new year without your loved one. This is a common feeling among people who are grieving. If you also feel this way, you should know that creating new memories without the person you have lost does not mean you are betraying the memory you have created with them.
Remember to be patient and gentle with yourself, and don’t push yourself to do anything in which you are uncomfortable. If your loss has been debilitating for you, if your entire life has come to a halt because of this loss, then maybe, the new year is the perfect opportunity for you to get back on track. Here are some tips that you may find useful:
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Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences anyone can have. It takes time to accept that they are gone from this world, it takes time and courage to learn to adapt to life in their absence.
You cannot expect everyone around you to understand what you are going through when you are mourning, but it is possible to surround yourself with people who can relate to your experience. This is exactly what a grief support group does. As the name suggests, it provides support to the bereaved, hears what they have to say, and offer a safe space to pour open their hearts. Here are the different ways a grief support group can help anyone who has lost a loved one:
Support from people who have similar experiences
The greatest benefit is that grief support groups provide a safe and non-judgmental space for the bereaved, because every single person there has lost someone close to them and understands what you may be going through. Even though no two losses are the same, it definitely helps to surround yourself with people who have had similar experiences.
A sense of belonging to a group that understands
It can be easy to feel isolated from everyone you know, whether friends or family, when you have lost a loved one, especially when the deceased is someone you share a special connection or relationship with. Not everyone may understand the depth of your grief, making you feel alone. But with a support group, you have a sense of belonging to a group that understands.
A place to open your mind to new perspectives
When you attend grief support groups, you meet people from different walks of life, each with a unique story of love and loss. Maybe these people have learned healthy and effective coping skills and relaxation techniques, which you can also benefit from. Or maybe hearing their story alone can give you a different perspective on life.
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Going back to work after having lost a loved one may seem like the most daunting task. You are probably still grieving, and it is likely that you find it difficult to focus on anything at all. Besides, not everyone at work will understand what you are going through, and this can only make the transition more difficult.
It's true that returning to work after losing a loved one is no easy task, but these are some ways that can help you out:
Think of returning to work as something positive
Going back to work may be the last thing you want to do while grieving, but you can look at it in a much more positive way. When you return to work, you are surrounded by other people, you get back into a routine, and your mind has other things to focus on. This keeps you distracted from focusing only on your loss.
Dont take on more than you can handle
While focusing on your work can be a good distraction, you must make sure not to take on too much work. You may think that overloading your responsibilities will keep you distracted even more, but it can only make things harder for you. It will be easier to get stressed and burn out.
Stay in touch with your manager or HR
For a few weeks after your return to work, make sure you communicate with HR or your manager. Let them know how you are coping, and don't be ashamed to ask for help if you need anything. Even if they do not regularly check up with you, don't hesitate to reach out first.
These are some of the best ways you can make sure returning to work after losing a loved one is not too much for you to handle. If these don't help, then you should consider giving yourself more time to grieve.
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When you lose someone who is close to you, the thought of living life after their death can be a terrifying one, especially if you lived under the same roof with them. However, the truth is that life goes on and we should be able to cope with our grief in a healthy manner so that we can get on with our lives without them. It’s okay and normal to grieve in your own way, as long as it is not detrimental for your well-being and those around you. Here are some tips on how to grieve in a healthy manner.
First and foremost, you should understand that grieving is normal and completely okay. You shouldn't feel guilty for how you feel. Instead, allow yourself to feel your emotions and embrace them completely. It's the only way you will get through it.
Whether it is a small corner in the house where their picture hangs or a bench in the park dedicated to them, you can create some sort of a memorial for your loved one. This safe space can help you feel closer to them.
When you are grieving, it is easy to pull yourself away from everyone and suffer on your own. However, this is not healthy and could only lead to other issues. Instead, make sure you reach out to your close friends and family for support, discuss how you feel and allow others to lend a shoulder.
A healthy way to cope with the loss of a loved one is to channel your grief into creative expression. Whether it’s writing, painting, sketching, music or any other art form, finding a creative outlet can really help.
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Losing someone you love is heart-breaking, even more so if you shared a house with them. It can be extremely difficult to relocate houses while you are grieving. You are leaving a home that is filled with so many happy memories of your loved one – memories you want to cherish forever. It is completely natural to experience feelings of sadness, guilt and even anger during such times.
However, you should acknowledge that no matter how difficult it may be, it must be done, and here are a few things you should know that may make the experience easier for you.
Everyone grieves and gets back to the world on their own terms and at their own pace. Don’t push yourself too hard even if it takes you longer than most. Nor should you feel guilty if it takes you a shorter period of time. Take your own time.
If you are relocating and you wish to use this opportunity to finally move on, that’s alright. It’s a great idea and you should be happy with yourself for having the courage. And if you feel that you are not ready yet and you want to bring in things that remind you of your loved one, then that’s okay. Bereavement is a personal experience and you shouldn’t care about what others think.
If you have decided to move as a way to help you cope with your loss and grief and not because you have to, then always make sure no one – friends or family – is influencing your decision. It is a huge change and you should be the one to decide.
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Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences, and different kinds of people cope with their loss in different ways. One such coping method is known as grief-eating, which means eating lots of unhealthy food in an attempt to trick your own body. When you eat foods that are high in sugar and fats, a feel-good chemical called dopamine is released by the brain. This only makes you want to eat more of the same kinds of food.
Grief-eating is not the healthiest coping mechanism especially because it can be so addictive. Moreover, it can have adverse long-term effects such as weight gain, health issues, low self-esteem, and even eating disorders.
Below we outline some steps you can take to overcome grief-eating:
Grief-eating is nothing but one of the many coping mechanisms that people adopt after the loss of a loved one. It is only natural that you want to search for momentary comfort in any way possible. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t talk yourself down using negative self-talk. Instead, accept that it’s only temporary.
You are most probably grief-eating because something triggers it. It could be a thought, a feeling, an event, or even an object that makes you want to eat to comfort yourself. Find out what these triggers are. It will help you in managing your stress.
Know the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger, so you know when to consume food or not. Physical hunger builds up gradually in your stomach, while emotional hunger comes on suddenly. You will also most likely crave a specific food that is high in sugar or fat.
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Losing your spouse is one of the most heart-breaking experiences of life. You have lost someone who you promised to spend the rest of your life with--someone you love dearly. It can be difficult to cope in healthy ways with such a loss.
You may experience feelings of anger, guilt, fear, sadness and shock. These are only natural and you shouldn’t stop yourself from feeling them. In fact, it’s actually healthy to allow yourself to feel all these completely. This is a part of grief and only then will you be able to move on to the next chapter of your life.
Now the question is, how can you move on? How do you cope with your loss and get your life back together? Here are a few ideas to help you out.
Some people may not be comfortable with the idea of death and hence, may not understand what you are going through. They may act the wrong way or say the wrong words. Try to forgive these people.
Your family and friends will understand you, and it’s always a good idea to reach out to them and talk openly about how you feel. They themselves may be grieving too, so you could help each other out simply by understanding how the other feels. It’s never a good idea to isolate yourself.
Grief of such magnitude can be detrimental for your physical and mental health. Many people tend to lose their appetite and have trouble sleeping. Make sure you take care of your body and health during this time.
You may think that moving to a new city or quitting your job may be a good idea after your loss. Give it time. Don't make decisions while you are grieving as you may regret it later.
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Losing a loved one is never easy, no matter how many times you may have experienced it before. Dealing with loss can be confusing, infuriating, and difficult. It is important that we make sure we do not cope with loss in a negative manner since we are extremely vulnerable at such times.
So, if you or anyone is grieving, make sure to watch out for these unhealthy coping methods.
Denial can come in many forms. The most obvious is unwilling to accept that your loved one has gone. People who are in denial may still talk about the deceased in the present tense, as if they are still alive. Another form is talking about the death as if it happened recently, even though it may have been months or years.
A common unhealthy coping method is to engage in risky behavior such as excessive drinking, consuming drugs, becoming physically violent and aggressive, acting out sexually, etc. These types of behavior, if not treated, can damage the person in the long run.
Being sad about the loss of a loved one is normal, even if it’s been some time since the death. However, there is a huge difference between being sad and being depressed. If the person is continuously moody, anxious, cries excessively and is unable to go about with his or her daily life, it is definitely a sign of depression.
Someone who is mourning may undergo significant changes in personality if he or she does not cope in a healthy manner. For example, they may overeat or stop eating, become extremely moody, etc. In other words, they often become someone they weren’t before they lost that person.
Any person exhibiting these characteristics may need to seek professional help. Encourage them.
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It is often said that where words are not enough, you can turn to rituals. This is perhaps most true when it comes to the loss of a loved one. Death is something no one is prepared to face and no one can get used to, and coming to terms with it can be extremely difficult. Death is much more than sudden absence, it is about losing a bond--losing a presence. It’s losing a loved one, and it is never easy.
Rituals like funeral services can help us cope with this grief in more ways than we may understand. Below are the different ways funeral services aid us in the mourning process of death, and perhaps, help us learn to let go.
One of the most difficult aspects of someone’s death is actually acknowledging it. It may seem quite simple, but anyone who had experienced it will understand just how confusing and difficult it can be. A funeral service provides a physical, tangible time and space of departure, making it easier to say goodbye.
Funeral services are an opportunity to remember the person who has died, and celebrate the life he/she has lived. It is a time to bring back fond memories, so you can keep them in your hearts forever in the way they would want to be remembered.
Another benefit of funeral services is that they allow us to openly express our grief and mourn the loss of our loved ones. Grieving is an important process that can help us to accept and understand the reality of death.
Funeral services bring family and friends together in one place, allowing you to lean on each other for much needed emotional support during hard times. Hearing comforting words from others, even just their presence, makes the journey easier.
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