by Tracy Renee Lee
 COLUMN:  Tracy Renee Lee - Love Heals Grief

Grief is hard. It’s uncomfortable, confusing, depressing, painful, and the list goes on.

So what happens when we are suffering and we don’t know what to do to make it stop? Who do we see to make it all go away?

If we see our doctor, he might give us medicine. Does medicine cure grief? Not really. Medicine might mask the symptoms of grief, but it really doesn’t heal grief. Perhaps taking medicine for grief decreases the pain to a level where we can focus ourselves enough to move away from it. If that is how it works, then maybe we could say it aids grief recovery. I’m not a medical doctor, so I don’t really know how that works. I’m just speculating. If we throw pre-existing conditions into the mix; illnesses like diabetes, psychosis, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, anxiety, etc. we enter into a whole new realm of not only grief recovery difficulties but life-threatening difficulties too.

Greif is dangerous to us and so we should try to do all that we can to recover from it as soon as possible. Consider these facts. “Bereaved people have a higher death rate than other people.” (Mourning Light III, 2019) And, “Studies indicate that a survivor’s incidence of myocardial infarction (acute heart attack) increases 21-fold within the first 24 hours of losing their loved one.” (Determinants of Myocardial Infarction Onset Study, January 2012) Armed with that information, why wouldn’t everyone everywhere try all that they could to end the pain and dangers of grief?

Unfortunately, some grief sufferers just can’t find their way out of the terrible cycle of pain. In such cases, they might choose to give up, and rather than reaching out for help, try to commit suicide. Suicide is a very real threat for grief sufferers. You might think that suicide is more threatening to younger survivors; however, I find that senior male survivors are at a greater risk.

Senior male survivors tend to be very set in their ways and impatient with their recovery. Quite often they are lost without their wives there to take care of them, and most of all, they are very lonely. Men are not prepared for the ravages of the heart, and when their wife has died, their confidant, the person who has for decades supported them emotionally, they find themselves in a terrifying dilemma.

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SILENT GRIEVERS

Men are often called the silent grievers.

This is due in large measure to societal mores.

Men are taught to be strong and in complete control of their emotions.

This practice, if adhered to without leeway, can end up causing prolonged and complicated grief.

This behavior can lead to lifelong suffering. (Mourning Light II, 2016)

Men especially tend to self-medicate when suffering grief. Self-medicating can be a dangerous practice. “Self-medicating is never appropriate as it has a tendency to take control of your life and in no way contributes to recovery. It may also be very dangerous to your health and well-being.” (Mourning Light 1, 2016)

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Grief Weakens the Body

Research has found that people are more likely to report more self-medicating and worse overall health following the death of a spouse.

Grief may also aggravate physical pain, increase blood pressure and blood clots, and exacerbate loss of appetite.

Interestingly enough, research also shows a decline in the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in older survivors as compared to those in the same age group who have not lost a loved one. (Understanding How Grief Weakens the Body, University of Birmingham, 2014) (Mourning Light III, 2019)

I wonder if the findings from the University of Birmingham indicate that persons who are self-medicating, are more prone to over-medicating, due to less effective results from their medications of choice. Perhaps that is at least part of the reason self-medicating has a tendency to take control of your life when utilized for grief control reasons. At any rate, there are so many other things that actually do help with recovery that I hope you will try them first for better results.

Of course, I want to give you a disclaimer. Recovery does not happen instantly. Love is long enduring and love is why you are in such immense pain. The only way to end this pain is to get to a place where your love can focus itself again on someone else. Not that anyone would ever be able to replace your loved one. That is not even possible. What I am saying is that you need to get to a place where you are able to shower your love, letting it improve someone else’s life, as it once did for your decedent.

For instance, in my life, I lost my grandson. I thought I would die myself, but what I found was that I had to allow the pain from not being able to hold him and love him, leave me, by loving and holding my other grandchildren.

Love must be shared. If you do not share it you suffer pain. When you lose a loved one, it is not possible to share your love with them anymore; therefore, you must share it with someone else. For me, that means my children and grandchildren.

So, if you would, I’d like you to consider sharing your love with someone that you already love. Spend some time with someone who already loves you, and cares for you. It could be a friend, a relative, or even your pet. Just try to let your love come out, and feel the joy of loving and being loved. 

You may not feel like socializing, and that’s okay. Maybe just a short phone call to someone to say hello. That might be enough for now, but try to do something. At the very least, you could drop me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

I know that loss is tough. I think it is the toughest thing we experience as human beings. I really hate death. I wish it didn’t exist. Unfortunately, I can’t make death go away; so the best thing I can do, is to try to help you recover from it. 

Please know that I care, and I’m not the only one that does. Reach out and you will find many who want to help, but don’t know how. They don’t know what to say, and they are fearful of making things worse. Help them, help you, by reaching out and just letting them know that you have love to spare.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, Podcaster, and founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.

It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

For additional encouragement, please visit my podcast “Deadline” at https://open.spotify.com/show/7MHPy4ctu9OLvdp2JzQsAA or at https://anchor.fm/tracy874 and follow me on Instagram at "Deadline_TracyLee".