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STOP WORRYING

ABOUT THE LOSS

  OF LOVED ONE

We give a study by Becca Levey, Yale University Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Psychology, credit for much of this article. She found that being optimistic, diligent, and having the will to live are important characteristics of folks whose prognosis improves, no matter how bad the diagnosis. Those who are overwhelmed, pessimistic, negative, and expect the worst typically have the outcome they anticipate. Dr. Levy was interested in perceptions of those over 50 about growing older. She followed a group of 660 adults from 1975 to 1998. At the beginning of the study, they completed a survey designed to elicit stereotypes about aging. Statements such as, "things keep getting worse as I get older" and "as you get older, you get less useful," were answered positively or negatively. Those participants with positive scores outlived those with negative scores. People with a positive bias were more likely to exercise, eat well, limit alcohol, be non-smokers and have had preventive health care. All of these good characteristics are consistent with taking control of one's life. (30)

 

But sometimes we can't turn off the fretting. When minds feel pressure, minds wander. When they wander they often travel to things most worried about. When the things most worried about pertain to your loved one, step back and review the bigger picture. Worrying can help one focus, but also it can become habitual and harmful. Below are some thoughts that might help.

What Causes Worry - Good intentions, love, and wanting the best for your loved ones are the wellsprings of worry. Focusing intensely on the what-ifs provides a perverse kind of comfort to the brain: If we're worrying, we're engaged. Of course, ultimately, worry triggers more worry and upset because it's engagement without accomplishing anything.

 

Risks of Worry - Being concerned is harmless. Over-worry and obsessing, however, can disrupt sleep, cause headaches and stomach aches, and lead to mindless eating or under-eating, a continual parade of unhealthy reactions. That will be bad for both you and your patient.

 

What You Can Do - If you notice worrying thoughts interfering with getting through the day or sleeping at night, force a break to the cycle. Try setting a timer and resolving to focus on something else when the five minutes are up. Then flip negative thoughts to their productive side and try not to go back to the negative. Eventually, the negative reaction can be felt by your loved one.

 

How You Can Help - Who can you call? Are there possible solutions? And don't be shy about seeking out a trained counselor to help you express and redirect obsessive ruminations more constructively about yourself. If you can’t solve it yourself, seek help from others who can.

Develop New Attitude and End Sadness – In order to get feeling normal and alive again, caregivers who are troubled by losing their old life and finding only loneliness in their current life, must believe that eventually there will be an end to their current caregiving.  Either the disease or injury will no longer require constant care giving or there will be a more terminal conclusion. Regardless of how long it takes for either of those eventualities to occur, caregivers are on the spot. 

Different Ways To Prepare  – Like with most difficult circumstances in life, being prepared for the unexpected is often critical. However, some situations can’t be anticipated. Serious illness or accident can happen. When it does, it may require additional strength, and where will that come from? It may come down to having a mindset of understanding and compassion. Depending on the amount of time available, many individuals are able to call upon emotional strength they didn’t know existed. Others rely on family, friend and even their religious faith. It is a time to decide which source of strength is the most available and the most likely to help you.

Final Thoughts – There are times when, regardless of what you do and no matter how hard you try, an end comes. Death is every bit as much of life’s story as life  itself. But, the end does not always have to have a bitter taste. It is every bit as important to prepare for death as it is to prepare for life. Grief can be managed and it should not be approached by fear and sadness. Sometimes death can be a happy release. Your attitude may well determine your degree of adjustment to the change.