Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year Resolutions in Caregiving and Bereavement

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'That which does not kill me makes me stronger' is not a law of the universe. What it can be, if we so choose, is a resolution.
~ Julian Baggini

Resolutions for Caregivers
In keeping with her goal “to offer encouragement, empathy, education and effective strategies to enrich your life as a caregiver,” registered nurse and caregiver Shelley Webb of the The Intentional Caregiver suggests Ten Caregiving Goals for The New Year. I encourage those of you in the caregiving role to visit Shelley’s helpful Web site, and take her practical suggestions to heart.

In the same spirit, I offer the following suggestions for those who are coping with the loss of a loved one:

Resolutions for the Bereaved
  • Educate yourself about what happens in grief and learn what reactions are normal.
    Find a book on grief (check the library, local or online bookstore, Center for Loss and Life TransitionCompassion Books, or Centering Corporation); consider journals, workbooks, poetry. Look for workshops on grief, loss and bereavement that are open to the public and sponsored by your local hospiceThe Compassionate FriendsAARP, mortuaries, churches and other community organizations.
    Subscribe to a healing magazine or journal such as Grief Digest or Living with Loss.
    Find and visit helpful Web sites for the bereaved, such as GriefHealing.com.
  • Join an online grief support group, such as our Grief Healing Discussion Groups.
  • Attend an in-person support group, and go at least three times before you decide if the group you’ve chosen is right for you.
  • Let yourself mourn, in whatever ways you need to. Recognize that there is no right or wrong way to do the work of grief.
  • Take it one day (one hour, one moment) at a time.
  • Take good care of yourself. Get checked out by your doctor and your dentist. Eat healthy, balanced meals. Rest as much as you can. Get some exercise. Drink lots of water. 
  • Pamper yourself. Listen to uplifting music, read a good book, soak in a hot tub, write in a journal, get a new haircut, have a massage, call a friend, take a walk.
  • Plan ahead for difficult days (holidays, anniversary dates, birthdays) to alleviate some of the worry and stress.
  • Do whatever you can to actively remember and maintain a connection with your loved one. Plan a ritual of remembrance (light a candle online, ask family and friends to share memories, plant a tree or a garden) or construct a memory book; make a quilt or Teddy bear using your loved one’s clothing. Find ways to mention your beloved’s name in family rituals, conversations with family and friends, religious services, memorials and donations to charity.
  Points to ponder throughout the coming New Year:
  • What meaning is there to be found in this loss?
  • What lessons have you learned, or what can be learned from this experience? 
  • What self-discoveries are you making?
  • What personal qualities have been strengthened as a result of this experience?
  • What strengths can you identify that were not apparent before? 
  • What is becoming of the person you used to be? Who are you now?
  • What was important to you before this loss, compared to what is important now?
  • How has this experience impacted your values and spiritual beliefs?
  • Do you see the world any differently now?
Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
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