live with physical challenges.
I am NOT a DOCTOR!!! I don't even play one on TV!!! It is my goal to live a more healthy lifestyle. Living well and being happy is what this blog is all about.

"Nothing,' wrote Tolstoy, 'can make our life, or the lives of other people, more
beautiful than perpetual kindness."

- Gretchen Rubin

I write about my own experiences and what works (or does not) for me. Nothing I write is to be taken as medical advice.

Only your health care provider, personal physician,Disclaimer:
I am not a doctor - I don't even play one on TV! This
or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I Support a National Grief Awareness Day

Never assume you know how a person in mourning feels.  You never know how much courage it took for them to put on a brave face.  - Linda Palmer 

My friend, Angie Cartwright is petitioning to Washington, DC for a National Grief Awareness Day.  I have done just as much as I possibly can to support her efforts.  When people ask me why we need a day set aside, my answer is quite simple:  To educate everyone about the grief process and how to better help those affected by loss.

Grief is such a personal thing, and no two people react to loss the same way.  Unfortunately, we live in a society where we are encouraged to just "get over it".  We're rushed through each stage of grief by friends and family who think they are helping us along.  In fact, this suppression of emotion can have some adverse affects on our health and well being.

ScienceDaily (Jan. 10, 2012):  According to a study published in the American Heart Association journal, the death of a close loved one could raise the risk of heart attack of those grieving by as much as 20 times the normal risk.  Of the 2,000 people interviewed, 270 reported that they had lost a significant other in the last 6 months.  Of those 270 people, 20 of them had lost loved ones the day before their heart attack. "The risk was high not only the following day, but also remains high for quite some time," said Elizabeth Mostofsky, M.P.H, ScD., noting that the risk was also higher if the person said the loss was moderately or extremely significant to them.  As part of the multicenter Determinants of MI Onset Study, researchers reviewed charts and interviewed patients while in the hospital after a confirmed heart attack between 1989 and 1994. Patients answered questions about circumstances surrounding their heart attack, as well as whether they recently lost someone significant in their lives over the past year, when the death happened and the importance of their relationship.

"Caretakers, healthcare providers, and the bereaved themselves need to recognize they are in a period of heightened risk in the days and weeks after hearing of someone close dying," said Murray Mittleman, M.D., Dr.P.H., a preventive cardiologist and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and School of Public Health's epidemiology department in Boston, Mass.

In my personal experience as a type 2 diabetic, grieving has adversely affected my blood sugar.  The disease is difficult to manage to begin with, but when I am upset, my blood sugar can quickly go high and just linger there.  Dealing with the loss of family and friends over the years by trying to bottle up my feelings has only made matters worse.  My diabetes got worse because I was unable to grieve properly.  If I had found Angie's GTU support group years ago, what a great difference that undoubtedly would have made in my life!  My disease is much better managed today because when I feel a need to talk with others who have experienced loss, I go to the GTU support group and there I'm able to speak with others who have walked this lonesome path and gain strength and coping skills to move on with life. 

Most people believe they just have to suppress their grief or ignore their feelings.  They return to work too soon in an effort to "get their mind off of things", which may seem like the right response at the time, but eventually they have to come to grips with the reality and finality of their grief.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but holding in all of that pain can definitely degrade a person's health as well. 

It's ridiculous to put a time limit on grief.  What gives anyone the right to say when a person should be "over it".  You never get "over it", but you have no choice but to just get on with it.  It's imperative that we make those who have not experienced the loss of a loved one aware that grieving doesn't stop after just a week, month or even a year.  For some people, grief can last a lifetime!  Everyone is different.  These are issues that need to be addressed and understood through education.  

There needs to be a greater sensitivity to those who have suffered massive amounts of loss in their life.  To have a day set aside for education, coping method videos and lectures to teach people how to interact more effectively with those who grieve, we will abolish the ignorant stigma that clouds our society and make grieving socially acceptable.  No one needs to have the pain of loss penned up inside with nowhere to turn for support.

How great would it be if tools were in place to help all of us help each other through the grieving process?  Support is so wonderful - on the giving end and on the receiving end.  It's such a win/win!  Grief in the United States has been almost "taboo".  We don't speak of it in mixed company and we barely acknowledge it with other loved ones.  We feel as though we need to wear a fake smile and a mask in order to keep from being a "downer" with friends and family.  

I've read tragic stories about young children who have experienced loss of friends at school and were actually made fun of by others when they would show emotion.  Even as little children, we're encouraged to just "buck up" and keep our emotions intact.  These children carry this heavy burden of loss with them into adult life.  This strikes me as not only sad, but cruel.  We claim to be compassionate human beings, yet we don't have any compassion on children who are grieving?  Something is seriously wrong with that.

You know, loss is not a respector of persons.  Whether you are fat or skinny, rich or poor, at any given moment, anyone can lose a significant other.  It happens so quickly, and it is a life-changing event.  Your life after loss will never be the same again!  No matter how far along in your journey you are, you have to develop a new "normal" and to adjust to that new "normal" takes longer for some folks than it does others.  Don't we owe these people one day a year to educate and arm others with helpful information about grief and the grieving process?  Is that really too much to ask?

I don't think so.

We need education in place to teach individuals how to treat those who are grieving.  Some people who grieve do not have any type of support group around them.  Some, like me, are fortunate to find groups on facebook, but most are on their own.  A person in grief will usually not ask for any kind of help.  They will keep their feelings bottled up and continue to live their lives as best they can.  Even when people say things like, "if you need anything, just ask", the person grieving will not ask.  And after a certain amount of time, people don't bother to even ask if the person grieving needs anything.

Bottom line:  People who are grieving just need to be validated, heard and understood.  We want a day set aside not only to remember those we have lost, but to put information into people's hands that will help them learn to communicate and listen with more sensitivity and compassion to those who grieve.

I invite you to take the time to sign this important petition.  You will need to create an account to do this, but it's a fast process and this is such a worthwhile cause, please make a choice to take the time to do this!  It will take less than five minutes but will make a world of difference!

Please support this effort by signing the petition!  Here is the link:



Today is NAVY DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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