There Is No Vaccine for Grief

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“Because they get caught in the storm, they minimize the time they feel uncomfortable. We live in a society that minimizes grief. Unlike the buffalo, we try to be a mile ahead, but it’s just always there and chasing after us, ”he said. Instead, remember to be ready to run into the rain.

Updated

March 2, 2021, 9:30 a.m. ET

Maureen Keeley, professor of interpersonal communication at Texas State University, has studied recent conversations between family members for nearly 20 years. During this time, one topic has come up again and again: “We have to tell those we love that we love them,” she said.

That advice sounds so simple. And yet when I tried it out by calling my best college friend to tell her how grateful I was for their friendship, the gears were full. (Instead, I asked about her new cat.) Dr. Keeley gave me this advice, “Grow up.” Telling someone how much they mean to you can feel a little uncomfortable. Go ahead and reveal the squishy parts of your soul. Most people love to hear how important they are and if you say it now you won’t regret it later.

“We are not meant to be islands of grief,” said Kessler. Everyone grieves differently, and even in your grief, there may be times when you want to be alone and times when you really need a friend. When the latter happens, it’s so important to have a stable network to rely on. “We need to know that the life of our loved one is important, that the death of our loved one is important. It makes sense to see our pain in someone else’s eyes, ”he said. Now is the time to make time for friends.

Some people need something to look forward to. Others find it overwhelming to think about the future, Ms. Upchurch said. If you are currently planning what to serve at your post-vaccination dinner party, you probably belong to the first group. Knowing this can help you put things on your schedule that will bring you joy in a dark time. However, if you got through the past year of social distancing by not thinking too far into the future, you may be better served by simply allowing yourself to stay in the moment and take each day as it comes.

Even if you’re not generally a nature lover, a little bit of nature can help you cope with grief, said Sonya Jakubec, a professor at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. Dr. Jakubec studies the effects of natural spaces and parks on patients and caregivers. As she wrote in a chapter on grief in nature for the book “Health in the Anthropocene: Living Well on a Finite Planet”, she took palliative care patients and caregivers for a walk near their workplace.

“Many of them never considered taking a 20-minute break from walking,” she said. After the outdoor excursions, 93 percent agreed or agreed that natural spaces provide emotional comfort. Dr. Jakubec has seen similar results with mourning groups meeting outside. “Parks and nature feel like a container big enough to hold our sorrows,” she said.

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