My Morning Do . . . Grief and Proactivity

~~ by tkbrown

26 September 2020 — As I mentioned in my previous post, depression associated with grieving is a normal reaction to loss. There are myriad possibilities as to what the loss may be, and one will be dealt with a bit differently from another. If addressed proactively as the grieving process progresses, oftentimes serious depression can be avoided. However, if one does begin finding it difficult to engage normal daily living activities, it may be necessary to schedule a few days to work on specific areas of concern. This can be accomplished alone or with the help of a person who has already proven to be a trustworthy support person in the grieving process.

Depression slows one down during the grieving to aid the introspective work necessary to move past it and into some level of acceptance. Taking some time for inner exploration will speed the path to recovery. There are ways to address the depression on your own, without any outside help if these activities are begun before recognizable impairment develops.

One way to move into and through depressive thoughts is to journal. Set aside a time each day to record thoughts in a composition notebook. Sitting in a quiet place, away from any possible interruptions, begin writing–whatever you are thinking at the time. If what you write does not make sense, this is ok.

The purpose of this portion of the journaling activity is to see the organization of your thoughts. Try not to miss any words — stream of thought is important. Write quickly; slow transcription of thought to paper can cause thoughts to wander due to distraction which causes inaccurate reflection. Recording of thoughts should continue for five to ten minutes. Set a timer or an alarm so concerns about the time do not interrupt the flow of thought.

When time has elapsed, take five minutes to free your mind. Then, read over what has been written. Try to note any patterns or specific lines of thought. Note topics and related concerns on a clean sheet of paper. Then take fifteen minutes to write about worries–concerns noted since your last journaling exercise. Elaborate a bit on each. Discuss specific thoughts noted to be interrupting normal activity.

Now, list some enjoyable activities. Hobbies of a creative nature are often helpful in overcome disruptive depression. If drawing or painting are enjoyable options, express feelings in the art. Draw or paint feelings onto paper or canvas. There are no right or wrong approaches. Just draw, sketch, or paint using charcoal, coloring pencils, pastels, or paints as mediums.

Other creative activities to consider include writing (i.e., poetry or prose), needlecrafts such as sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitch. Cooking, (i.e., making breads–rolls, loaf breads, even cookies) anything that allows complete distraction from the loss. These activities will assist the process of moving through the depression to beginning life again after the loss. Acceptance involves learning to live with the loss. Fill time, previously engaged by the loss, with activities and people you enjoy.

As enjoyable activities continue, begin taking ten or fifteen minutes of daily journaling time to discuss the previous day’s activities. Describe your perceptions of the creative activities and endeavors being pursued. Write anything coming to mind. The goal is to slowly notice movement back into a normal activity level.

The loss will always be a part of the person you become. As you remember positive aspects previously brought to life by the loss, begin to focus on ways related memories are transitioning into strengths and creating the “you of tomorrow.” Proactive approaches, such as journaling and conscious activation of hobbies can be very helpful to resuming normal daily living.

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My Morning Do . . . Grief and Depression

~~ by tkbrown

25 September 2020 — A few days ago, I discussed the reality of grieving not only individually but also as a society. Depression is an important part of grieving because how you cope with your depression determines the extent to which you and those around you are impacted by all stages of loss and grieving. Depression slows you down and requires that you face the loss. Denial, anger, and bargaining typically precede depression, but in societal grief there may be no way to predict how society, or individuals, will progress through the stages. So, we must develop compassion and tolerance for the suffering.

However, we must also draw a line to stop the violence and mayhem assault on others–it is not a part of grieving. Creating more grief does not resolve your own suffering or that of anyone else. It causes post-traumatic-stress disorder for all victims. Do not kid yourself! Those inflicting the harm are not the sufferers. There should be swift legal action and reparations against all who cause harm to another person or to another person’s property.

When the coronavirus hit, individuals began grieving the loss of family and friends. Those losses were not a long time in coming. Some had only a day or two of illness in the family member or friend before death caused a forever separation. Loved ones in the hospital were unable to see family and friends face to face due to the contagious aspect of the pandemic and self-quarantining required by our expert health officials. Some were able to talk on the phone with a loved one, but many could not arrange this contact due to the loved one being too ill to talk. As if these atrocities were not enough, the loved on died without being able to get a hug or hear the words “I Love You!” in a face to face visit. Some were even unable to arrange a funeral due to the virus. No technological contact can ever replace the healing power of face to face care and love.

Those who did have loved ones who survived were still not able to see them due to “stay at home” restrictions on society. The loved one may have continued to suffer problems from the illness after recovery. He or she may still be suffering. The long term impact of having the coronavirus is still being learned. How does one help a loved one when it is not possible to be there in person. The problems associated with the illness and or loss of a loved one only scrape the tip of the iceberg in dealing with losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many have lost jobs because of the contagion causing too much illness in the workplace and decisions to close in an attempt to prevent the spread. Some were fortunate enough to be able to transfer work responsibilities to home via online portals. This provided some relief from the stressors involved, but not for all. Job losses presented the problem of not enough money for food, housing, utilities, clothing for growing children (some can grow several sizes in two to three months). The food assistance, rental protection, work position furloughs, extra unemployment compensation, student loan deferrals, and other forms of assistance provided by the federal government helped keep many from falling through the holes in the sidewalk. Others, who had no benefit of unemployment may have been buying a home instead of renting. How was this to be managed? So many question with no answers because no one can predict how long this will continue.

Add to these, the fact that a lack of immune response safety means visiting family members and friends has been largely rendered impossible unless you live close to them. Even in this situation, it must be limited in duration and frequency due to the risk of passing the virus to each other. Social distancing and face masks are another adjustment when in groups. Thrust into these restrictions without warning, without a plan for addressing the contagion or the ramification it presented–because nothing like this has ever happened before–having to keep children home from school, daycare, sports, church and visiting friends have all taken a major toll on everyone.

Shopping for groceries, cleaning and hygiene supplies, personal care products, and other essentials became a major challenge. Frequency of shopping excursions had to be greatly reduced and when in the stores many products were sold out. Production plants had been closed due to too many afflicted by the virus.

Only essential services were allowed to remain in service unless the work could be done 100% online. Some of these situations are historical firsts. They, in some ways, resemble when the Black Plague ravaged Europe, when the flu of 1918 ravaged the world, and when the Great Depression of the 1930s oppressed people everywhere. How does society go on? We have gone on here in America, and we have–so far–survived one day at a time, thanks to our Presidential Administration in Washington D.C. and to our Representatives and Senators both State and National. Even with all of the loss, and grieving, the world is surviving. This will be recorded in history books as a time of recovery even as the virile pandemic ravaged the world. The problems we are facing are normal for the extent of loss and grieving in the world. Everyone, every town, every state, every nation is suffering continuing loss and grieving. What is normal? What is not? When will it all end?

Depression is common amidst society throughout the world at present–with everyone suffering for the same or similar reasons. There are some who suffer chronic depression who should be monitored by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a counselor. This is due to the need for some to take antidepressants and to be monitored for problems needing special support–especially during this time of great loss. Those not needing professional assistance to wade through the daily muck are also suffering depression to some degree due to loss and grieving. No one is immune–no one will make it through this pandemic without being personally impacted in some way. This is called reactional depression. It is normal depression which occurs during times of major adjustment to loss. It is a part of the grieving process. No, it is not considered the “first stage” of grieving, but I would suggest there are some who become depressed on the first day of grieving–whatever the loss. Some work through other stages first, but with everyone in the world affected by this loss and grieving process, the stages of grief are going to vary greatly, and some will be working on more than one stage at a time. The overlap will vary but it will be there.

There is a tendency to minimize suffering associated with grief because the suffering is not seen. People go on with life unless they are overwhelmed by the losses. The same applies to societal losses and grieving. It is minimized. How soon did we see people breaking the call to self-quarantine and limit group gatherings to less than ten persons. Some were gathering in larger groups the first week even though each gathering caused spikes in the local number of people who contracted the virus.

We have death and dying all around us, and some said during the first week: “We have to move on!” “We will not be imprisoned in our own homes!” “We will not be told what we can and cannot do!” No concern existed for the safety and lives of others involved. So, the deaths and losses mounted–one upon the other. I would suggest the levels of depression in many individuals–while a natural response to the situation–are phenomenal. Thus, I have decided to discuss depression. This will require several posts to address concerns and to make suggestions for coping with loss and grieving–your own, or that of someone you love and /or care about. If you have need for coverage of some specific area of grieving and loss, and do not see it covered in the next several posts, please place a request in the comment section with a ping-back to your blog so I can address it.

Blessings to all during this time of great oppression!

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Photo Above: by pen_ash at pixabay.com.

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My Morning Do . . . “Losses”

~~ by tkbrown
19 September 2020
Midst all the grieving and lamenting
with such intensity the heart doth ache.
Whom can I trust? The pain, the not feeling
is more than this old, feeble soul can take.
One disaster hits, and then another.
Before I can stand up straight, I smother
the screams of anguish inside, and I hide
the pain because my neighbor cannot find
half of her belongings. How can I scream?
I need to be strong and help mend the seam
the storm ripped open before something else
renders it irreparable. Immense
are the threats to my survival, but I
am not important right now, and I sigh--
deeply, longingly--and look to the sky.

There is death and dying all around me.
Ash and charred wood, far as the eye can see
and I wonder, how will it ever be
the same; and I just want to run, to flee
and forget the loss stretching, engulfing
all. No home, no  business, no feeling
to express the emptiness entrenching
the dried riverbed; ash coating, drifiting
between the stones--gray, forlorn, seemingly
afraid to hope for better day. Achingly
eyeing the chard remains, desperately
recalling beauty--incongruently.
This is not a scene one would ever want
to revisit. Even new growth could not
erase the scars, the memories so scant.

As I contemplated the losses our country
and my fellow-citizens have experienced this week--
from fires and storms,
I grieved with them--for them;
and I penned these words
as an expression of my condolences.

To those not suffering loss at this time,
if you are ever in the path of such powerful forces,
evacuate!

Leave hearth and home!
No material belongings are worth your lives!
This cannot be stressed too much. 

The country, the world is already reeling
from unfathomable loss,
and the grieving process has begun.

The five stages of grief:
Denial,
Anger,
Bargaining,
Depression,
and Acceptance
have begun.

No two persons experience them in the same order
or to the same depth.
Oftentimes more than one can be seen at the same time.

Therefore,
no two countries will experience them the same.

Denial is not yet past--for us--
here in America!
The Anger has begun,
mostly in the form of rioting,
looting,
violence,
and mayhem
focusing on other areas
rather than the death and dying
all around us
directly related to coronavirus--

in our families
and in society.

So, the Denial has not passed.
It is still going on
along with the Anger,
and some Bargaining.

Expressions of Anger are being blamed
on events not truly related
to society's loss from the pandemic.

It is hard to separate personal loss
from societal loss.

Is that even possible?
I don't think so. 

Be strong enough to feel--more than the anger!
Be strong enough to heal--more, more than yourself!
It will take introspection refueled
to collectively grieve and to rebuild.

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Photo Above: by Dylan Nolte @Unsplash.com.

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Source: Kubler-Ross, M.D. and D Kessler. (August 2014). “On grief & grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss.” Scribner. New York. (16 September 2020).

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