Coping with a loss

Kelsey Henninger

It begins with denial, moves to anger and then to the third phase of bargaining, followed by depression. Finally, acceptance completes the whole grieving process, according to the five stages of grief outlined by well-known psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who passed away in 2004.

Recently, Kent State has mourned the loss of a few influential people – all of whom I did not know, but any one of whom could have influenced me indirectly.

Last week, I received a call from my mother informing me an influential person in my life had died: my grandmother.

I was shocked but somewhat prepared. When I last visited my grandmother, I realized she was in poor health. Wearing her “honoring all who serve” pin, which she wore every day since my grandfather’s death in 2002, she sat in her wheelchair with an oxygen tank assisting her breathing.

I remember sitting down beside her as she searched my face for a name. My mother introduced my sister and me, and we talked about my schooling, my sister’s wedding plans and what activities my grandmother had planned for the day. It was at that very moment, sitting in the dining hall of Genoa Care Center, that I realized I had lost my grandmother.

I sat there with a smile and watery eyes as the conversation continued. We didn’t stay long, but when we walked out the door, I turned to my sister and told her how crushed I was, knowing that my grandmother barely remembers me.

I believe I began my grieving process that day. There is a point in our lives when death becomes less sensitive. We reach an age where we have experienced loss and understand the emotions. I am not saying emotions shouldn’t accompany our feelings, but from my experience, when death is less of a shock, the five stages of grief can be completed easier.

Pamela Farer-Singleton, chief psychiatrist for University Health Services at the DeWeese Health Center, said, “There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief; people do it differently.”

Listening to your body can help deal with grief, Farer-Singleton said. If you feel sluggish, take extra time to rest. Eating right and exercise can also help the body and mind feel better.

Farer-Singleton suggests talking to a trusted friend or talking to someone outside the situation, because his or her suggestions may help you view the situation differently.

Getting back on track with your regular routine also advances the grieving process.

Try to schedule activities and not isolate yourself because it is important to understand that pain is normal. Writing down thoughts or feelings is another way to cope.

If someone you know is grieving, listening and giving them support will help them through the grieving process, Farer-Singleton said.

Helping a friend with daily chores can be a positive step in a healthy recovery. For example, if a friend hasn’t been eating, offer to cook.

If you feel as if your friend needs more help than you can provide, many places in the community, such as hospitals and funeral homes, offer counseling.

Loss is a part of life. Help those who need help dealing with their grief.

Kelsey Henninger is a junior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].