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How do I move past my grief in a healthy way?

Moving On Past Grief

David Kessler (Director of Palliative Care, Citrus Valley Health Partners and Hospice) gives expert video advice on: How do I move past my grief in a healthy way?; Is it healthy to hang on to my loved one's belongings?; How do I fill the gap my loved one has left in my life? and more...

What is 'journaling' and how can it help me grieve?

There are many things that you can do to help you grieve. Many people find journaling as one method that helps them to write down their feelings. It also helps you in time to see how your feelings have changed, and people often think when they think about journaling that you have to write three pages a day. Sometimes journaling for the day can just be, "I miss you today". It doesn't have to be extensive writing and people find it so helpful, in time, to look back at how they changed and moved through their grief.

What are some common 'triggers' of grief?

There are many common triggers of grief and it's very surprising what they can be. Of course it can be the big things. It may be when you visit that spot that you and your loved one visited before so many times but it can be a small thing. It can be realizing that you are only doing your laundry. It may be realizing that you're eating alone. It could be just the smallest things. All of a sudden you see your loved one's keys still laying around. It might be a phone call from a solicitor who asks for them. Anything can trigger your grief and suddenly send you from feeling like you are doing well to crying and wondering if this grief is going to end. Triggers are normal and unfortunately they do happen.

Is it healthy to hang on to my loved one's belongings?

People wonder if it is healthy to hang onto your loved one's belongings. First of all, their possessions are part of who they were, their clothing, the things that meant something to them mean something to you, and letting go of those possessions is one more loss. In fact, it can be many losses. That's a process that takes time, and it's very different for different people. You may feel as if you want to handle that very quickly, and you may also feel like you're going to need some time to do that. At times people wonder how long is too long, and we go back to the idea of intensity and duration. If you've lost your loved one and their possessions are intact a week later, a month later, that's understandable. If it's a few years, then you may need professional help because grief should be fluid. We should move on with things, and you can find a way with your loved one's possessions to honor them. Perhaps give some of their things to a special charity or maybe to some people who could really need it, or to other members of the family that you think would enjoy wearing some of your loved one's clothes or having your loved one's possessions.

How long is considered 'too long' to grieve?

We live in a productive society these days, and people want us to move on with our grief, recover from it quickly, be happy again. And I'm always amazed that people will ask me about their grief and say, "I'm just not getting over it." And I'll ask them, "How long has it been since your loved one has died?" And they'll say three weeks or a month, or six months. When you've loved and known someone for twenty-five years, for ten years, for five years, you don't get over it in a month. So just know, while there may be pressure from friends, relatives and society in general to get past it, do it in your own time, in your own way, at your own pace.