Loss is understood as a natural part of life, but we can still be overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or depression. The sadness typically diminishes in intensity as time passes, but grieving is an important part of the healing process in order to overcome these feelings and to continue to embrace the time you and your therapy partner had with your friend.
Everyone reacts differently to death and employs personal coping mechanisms for grief. Most people can recover from loss on their own through the passage of time if they have support. There is no “normal” time period for someone to grieve. And, don’t expect to pass through phases of grief as new research suggests that most people do not go through stages as progressive steps.
We as human beings are naturally resilient, considering most of us can endure loss and then continue on with our own lives. But some people may struggle with grief for longer periods of time.
Mourning the loss of a beloved client takes time, but it can also be the catalyst for a renewed sense of meaning that offers purpose and direction to life.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may find it helpful to use some of the following strategies to help come to terms with loss:
• Talk about the death of your beloved client with friends and colleagues in order to understand what happened and to remember your friend.
• Accept your feelings. People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all normal.
• Take care of yourself and your therapy partner. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest help us get through each day and move forward.
• Reach out and help others dealing with the loss. Helping other CAREing Paws members who also visited this client has the added benefit of making you feel better as well. Sharing stories of your friend can help everyone cope.
• Remember and celebrate their life. Possibilities include making a donation to their favorite charity in their honor, framing photos of fun times or planting a garden in their memory. Whatever you choose is up to you, as long as it allows you honor your unique relationship in a way that feels right to you.