Psychological Self-Help

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into a routine. Break your ties and dependency on the deceased.
Cultivate new interests. Recognize that time heals. Read some
sensitive and useful books (Rando, 1991; Bernstein, 1977; Grollman,
1974b; LeShan, 1976; Lifton & Olson, 1975; Shepard, 1976; Colgrove,
Bloomfield & McWilliams, 1991). For a comprehensive coverage of
many aspects of grieving, I recommend Fitzgerald (1994). Try to
become active (unemployed widows had more difficulty overcoming
depression than anyone else). 
What kinds of losses are hardest to handle? A sudden, unexpected
death is usually harder to accept than an anticipated death for which
we have had time to prepare. A highly rated recent book by Noel &
Blair (2000), I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye, might be especially
helpful in this situation. The death of a person with whom we had an
intense but mixed relationship is often harder to handle, e.g. a loved
one who was both loving and inconsiderate, hurtful, untrustworthy,
selfish, etc. Or, perhaps you feel guilty because you were distant or
unkind to them. In any case, having "unfinished emotional business"
greatly complicates the grieving process. Also, the death of a person
on whom we have enormous dependency is difficult to handle,
especially if that dependency left us without a life of our own and
incompetent to care for ourselves. Lastly, the effectiveness of our
personal support system--family and friends--is an important factor in
recovery from a death. Support for certain losses are likely to be
especially weak: when we live away from family or have few friends;
when the relationship is "secret" or "silent," such as a divorced spouse,
a gay lover, a long-term affair, or a close co-worker; when the loss is
an unborn or a just born baby; when the grief-stricken person is a
child and "protected" from reality (Kleinke, 1991). 
Go get counseling if months later
you are sleeping and eating poorly, socially withdrawn, or feel ill, or
you have shed no tears or can't talk about the deceased, or
you have an undiminishing sense of loss and continuing lack of purpose, or
you are unhappy, think of killing yourself, can't concentrate or work, or
you can't get rid of the resentment or the guilt about the deceased, or
you are very frightened, behaving oddly, or fighting with relatives or friends.
A few cultures accept death as part of life; many defy death by
believing in "everlasting life;" others deny death by refusing to
consider what dying is really like. Nuland (1994) sensitively helps us
realistically confront the many physical processes of dying. On a
spiritual level, enormous effort is invested by our society in convincing
people of an afterlife and that death has great meaning. I hope they
are right but suspect that death simply means it's the end of another
life which was of great importance to the dying person, to his/her
offspring, and, hopefully, to a few other people as well. When a person
permits him/herself to believe that he/she may have only one life to
live (and not eternity), it changes his/her plans. Our society has not
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