NDSU Extension Service - Sargent County

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Saying Goodbye

wet rose leavesMarlys Johnson passed away on September 10.  Marlys was well known in Milnor and the surrounding communities in Sargent and Ransom counties.  She devoted her life to her family as a wife, mother, grandmother, and aunt, and to her community as a friend, active member, and volunteer.  Sargent County 4-H was on the receiving end of her talents and generosity, as she served as a 4-H club leader for many years.  In fact, this fall she would have received recognition for completing 32 years of service as a volunteer 4-H club leader.  With her passing, her family, friends, congregation, organizations, and communities are left behind to grieve, mourn, and miss her.

The sense of loss and journey through it that Marlys Johnson’s family and friends will face is what anyone who is “left behind” experiences after the loss of someone they love.  It is likely that you know at least one person who has made or is making that journey right now; I do.  Perhaps you have made or are making that journey now.  I am, too.  It’s been nearly ten years now, ever since my oldest child died of cancer as a young adult.

Grief can be overwhelming.  For me, it has helped to learn about grief and understand it and seek out ways to manage or cope with it.  Slowly and personally responding to every sympathy card our family received was a big part of the start of my healing journey through grief.  Being in a support group was also helpful, and professional grief counseling played a huge role in surviving.

When someone we know, love, and respect dies, we experience feelings of loss.  Those feelings can also result if we experience the loss of a pet, a job, a home, a physical ability, a lifestyle, or a relationship.  The feelings may vary somewhat, depending on whether the loss was sudden and unexpected, or if it was expected and “predictable.”

Normal reactions to grief commonly include physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual reactions.  For example, a feeling that, “I am going crazy,” is a normal emotional reaction.  It is also normal to have difficulty concentrating and making decisions, sleep disturbances, and feelings of sadness, depression, irritability, anger, frustration, being misunderstood, anxiety, nervousness, fearfulness, lethargy, lacking motivation, or numbness.

There is no timeline for grief.  Progress through grief is not straight forward or predictable.  It can ebb and flow.  People often experience their “lowest” moments about six months after the death of their loved one.  Being patient with oneself is helpful, as is gradually returning to “normal” activities, even when it is mostly just “going through the motions” at first. Use of alcohol is not an effective way to cope with the loss; true healing doesn’t begin until after its use is discontinued.

It is helpful to the grieving person when other people listen, ask about their feelings or loss, speak of the person who is now gone and share precious memories of them, and sometimes just sit together in silent support, which can include sobbing, shedding silent tears, or just “being held.”

As always, please give me a call if you would like to visit about this article or topic, or if you or your friends, family, co-workers or employees have a topic you would like to learn more about through a presentation, lesson, program, activity or workshop.  NDSU Extension has a lot to offer, and we are here to serve you!

Sources: Hospice Grief Support Resources and  http://cmhc.utexas.edu/griefloss.html

 

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