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Grief: There is No Prescription

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Amanda Kriens, CCHW, Prairie Doc Perspective Week of May 19th, 2024

As unique is our loss is as unique is our grief. What do we do when one day we can smile, laugh, and look back at memories with fondness and thankfulness for the life we shared with our loved one; the next day we feel paralyzed by our pain and sadness? We feel broken and feel as though we may never be our “old self” again? We may not like the answer…we feel what we feel. There is no twelve steps, timeline or prescription for our grief. New research supports that as unique as we are as humans, as unique as our relationships are, as unique as our brains, is as unique as how we will process our grief.

By allowing ourselves to feel what we feel and becoming curious about those feelings we can, with time, heal. We may not ever be our “old self” again but we can become a new self. A new self that has become more resilient, more self-aware and has more compassion for ourselves and likely for others. We do not have to become bitter but we can feel angry. Anger is a common feeling to have when we are experiencing grief but so is laughter and sadness. By allowing ourselves to release our anger through healthy means such as exercising, journaling, writing a letter we can move through this feeling. By laughing when we feel like it we can release endorphins and increase our serotonin which in turn helps us feel good. By crying when we feel sad we can release stress through the actual tears coming from our eyes. Those tears chemical makeup are different than the tears our eyes naturally produce for moisture. By allowing our sad tears to flow we can help release that sadness out of our body. We may feel exhausted after this release but then while listening to our bodies, we rest.

Suppressing our feelings is not only not good for our mental health it is also not good for our physical health. We are more likely to suffer from chronic illness if we are not processing our thoughts and feelings in a healthy manner. Some tips for caring for yourself while experiencing grief are:

  • Get adequate rest: 7-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Drink water: Half your body weight in ounces
  • Eat healthy meals and snacks: Eat the rainbow fruit, vegetables, protein and healthy carbs
  • Talk to someone: Find a therapist and/or a grief support group
  • Build a support system: It is okay to need others during this time and allow them to support you
  • Say no when needed: Do not overwhelm yourself with too many stressful tasks or events
  • Don’t isolate: Do things you enjoy and with others who bring you joy
  • Move your body: Go on walks or to the gym
  • Get in touch with nature: Spend time outside and in the sunshine
  • Journal: Write down how you feel
  • Give yourself time: Don’t shame yourself when you have a hard time
  • Plan things ahead: Put things on the calendar that you can look forward to
  • Honor their memory: Think of how you would like to me memorialize your loved one
  • Read a book on grief: Understanding your Grief by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Amanda Kriens, CCHW is a community health worker at Avera Behavioral Health in Brookings, SD. Amanda provides outpatient community health worker services to children, adolescents, families and adults. Her services are personalized to help those dealing with anxiety, depression, abuse, stress, cultural diversity, interpersonal issues and trauma related to sexual violence. Her practice includes cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and solution-focused therapy, and helping patients find additional community resources. Follow The Prairie Doc® at and on Facebook and Instagram featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc®, a medical Q&A show providing health information based on science, built on trust, streaming live on Facebook most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.

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