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Grief and Mourning at Work: How to Get the Support You Need (Part III)

Peggy Green - Thee Grief Specialist

by Peggy Green of Thee Grief Specialist

Grief and Mourning at Work: How to Get the Support You Need (Part III)

In this 3-part series on Grief and Mourning at Work: How to Get the Support You Need, we have covered the importance of having an open line of communication with your employer, and how to educate fellow employees to help you with tips on helping  yourself. In the third and final part, we connect the dots and circle back around to managing them with self-care. Remember those 4 areas of acute symptoms of grief: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual? When you take care of yourself, you are healing, and it helps with your ability to return to work after loss and your performance while on the job.

You may not realize the connection between these 4 areas and your healing process. Keep reading to learn more.

Let us start with tips on taking care of your physical health.

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, and anxiety while grieving. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. It can
help with weight management, improve your ability to focus and offer a sense of control. 

And you do not have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits!

As you well know, losing a loved one is an incredibly stressful time. In times like these, you will more than likely crave foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. It is extremely easy to grab cookies or chips and use food as a way to make you feel better.

Is this  you? If yes, you are not alone!

Yes, comfort foods will make you feel better in the short run , however in the long run they make you feel so much worse. They affect your blood sugar, your energy level and mental focus. Heavy  amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone is also released and contributes to weight gain, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Processed foods are also attributed to weakening your immune system opening the floodgates to simple colds,  heart conditions and oxidative stress.

Now let us take a peek at mental health.

While on the job, for your mental health, I recommend having regular breaks scheduled every 60-90 minutes. By doing so, it prevents you from pushing yourself to the edge of mental and physical fatigue. Breaks do not need to be long; 5-7 minutes will improve  your productivity, refresh your mind, and renew your energy. Be extremely purposeful with what you do on those breaks. Be sure to get up and away from your workstation, walk, go outside if possible.

Emotionally it is important to allow yourself to grieve. Give yourself permission to cry, to feel numb or angry… to simply feel however you feel. Avoiding self-judgment and “shoulding” – “I should be feeling this…” or “I shouldn’t be thinking that,” etc. – will help you meaningfully honor your loved one as you also process the loss and heal during your unique grief experience.

Emotions are the souls’ barometer/compass for navigating the feel bad’s of grief.

Have you been told that you have negative emotions? It is important that  you do not think of your emotions as being negative or even positive for that matter. I want to really stress that there are no positive or negative emotions. They are only feel good or feel bad emotions.

Think of it this way, if you say being happy is a positive emotion, you judge yourself as it being acceptable. If you say crying is a negative emotion, then you can associate it with doing something wrong. When you think it is wrong to cry, then you discount your grief. From here on out, I will refer to emotions as feel goods  or feel bad’s.

The last area of health associated with acute symptoms of grief is spiritual.

Spiritual health is a personal matter involving values, integrity, and compassion that supports the purpose and mission of your life.

Spiritual wellness provides us with systems of faith, beliefs, values, ethics, principles, and morals. A
healthy spiritual practice may include  volunteering, social contributions, belonging to a group, fellowship, optimism, forgiveness, and expressions of compassion.

Many people associate spirituality with a higher power. A higher power is a supreme deity or other conceptions of God. Maybe you do not believe in God but that there is something bigger than you. It is what you turn to that explains the unexplainable. Your higher power is what gives you peace and rest.

Countless grievers wonder how long they will grieve or when they will be “over it.” For most people, the immediate pain of loss will gradually and eventually subside over several months or years. There is no timeline. However, when a loss has had a major impact on your daily life it is not uncommon to feel the aftershock of that loss for the rest of your life. Accept this is now your new reality. I know this is true, you can learn to live a fulfilling life, experience joy, peace and happiness and still love and remember your loved one.