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Grieving and Your Health

As I was trying to think of a new blog topic on health and fitness, I was blank. I have been processing the loss my beloved Teddy, our 13-year-old brilliant, darling, perfect bichon! My daughter tagged me in a Facebook post announcing our loss and I was amazed at the flood of comments that came in. It seems that almost everyone I know is a dog lover, and a very high percentage of those people have grieved or are grieving the loss of a pet.

During the onset of Teddy’s illness I tried really hard to practice what I preach in my health coaching business: “keep your stress levels down, it’s really bad for your health!” Unfortunately, I failed miserably— there are some situations where our stress is going to skyrocket and we have no control over it. The flood of emotions can hit like a hurricane and repeatedly surface when you least expect it. Shock, disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger and fear can whirl around in your body until you feel like you have been hit by a truck!

I have experienced some serious, chronic illness due to stress. Consequently, I want to use my experiences to help others. I'm a firm believer stress can flip a switch on a smooth running engine and take it down until it completely falls apart. Repairing it to full function can be a very tedious process, so let’s avoid that altogether! It’s important for you to do everything you can to take care of the one and only machine you have—your body.

So what do we do to protect ourselves from stress when it seems impossible to control? I'm still working on it myself, but this past week I have been reminded of some important tips I have studied, and lessons I have learned from personal experience.

Here are some basic tips for coping with loss:

1. Don’t avoid the people you care about, thinking your presence will bring them down. Talking or even crying it through will make you feel so much better! People you love will love you back and they want to be there for you even if you are a blubbering mess!

2. Find comfort in your own personal faith or higher power. Say some prayers, do some meditation or try to picture your loved one in a happier place.

3. Face your feelings. Avoiding your emotions can prolong the grieving process. In other words, let it out!! Unresolved grief can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and health problems.

4. Take action to express your feelings in the form of writing, creating a photo album or getting

involved in an organization related to your loss.

5. Try to fuel your body with nutritious foods, plenty of rest, and exercise— even if you have to dumb it down a little. A leisurely walk in the sunshine can be super beneficial for your heart and soul!

6. Don’t hesitate to find a support/grief group or a professional to help you through tough times.

Grieving is the price we pay for love, but LOVE is so worth it!

Have some questions or concerns about your health and wellness? Health coaching addresses all aspects of your health and wellbeing—Weight loss, chronic pain, energy, exercise adherence, lifestyle limitations, menopause, nutrition guidance and more. Email me at susan@swanfitcoach for a free 30 minute discovery session. I would love to get to know you—the favorite part of my job!

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In good health,

Susan Jensen

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