Sunday, March 1, 2020
GRIEF: Little by little, we let go of loss, but never of love.
When an individual experiences a great loss—whether a person, property, jobs, core belief or dreams of what might have been—grief is the normal reaction. Grief includes physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual responses. Losing someone or something you love or care deeply about is very painful and can feel like the pain and sadness will never end. These are normal reactions to a significant loss. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can allow you to move on.
Grief – What is it?
Grief is a natural response to loss. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. Grief, while normally associated with the death of a loved one can also be triggered by:
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Loss of health, work or financial stability
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a cherished dream
- A loved one’s serious illness
- Loss of a friendship or co-worker
- Loss of safety after a trauma
Grieving is an individual experience. How a person grieves depends on their personality, coping style, life experience, faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time and healing happens gradually; it can’t be hurried.
Common Symptoms of Grief are: shock, disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, fear and physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss/weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.
How to Heal from Grief and Loss
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal. Find support through friends, family, faith, support groups, counselors.
“In the event that oxygen masks may be needed, place the mask over your own face before assisting others.” Sound familiar? Many Flight Attendants practice self-care in effective ways, however, with busy flight schedules, commuting and demanding personal lives, it is easy to lose a healthy sense of balance and fail to provide the necessary care and attention that you offer to your passengers and others in your life. Good self-care is not a “Code Red emergency response plan” to be activated when stress becomes overwhelming. Healthy self-care is an intentional way of living by which your values, attitudes, and actions are integrated into your day-to-day routine. The need for “emergency care” becomes the exception to usual practice.
- Take care of your body: Maintain a good diet, get enough sleep, stay physically active.
- Share your stress and grief: Talk with others about your feelings and what has happened.
- Recognize your limits: Don’t overwork yourself. Take time for relaxation and recreation.
- Prioritize your time: Write down what needs to be done and in what order.
- Sit in stillness: Entering a space of solitude increases your awareness of your own true needs.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: They will not help and will likely cause other problems.
- Help others: Creates a sense of contributing to something larger than yourself.
- Face uncomfortable feelings: Don’t suppress them, accept the way you feel and plan for triggers such as anniversaries or people places and things which can stir distressful feelings.
- Connect with family and friends: Connect in meaningful ways with friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and church members.
When to seek professional help for your grief:
The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain center stage. You may wish to contact a grief counselor if the pain of the loss becomes protracted and keeps you from resuming your life in time or if you experience:
- Extreme anger over the loss
- Feeling that life is empty or meaningless
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Excessive Fatigue
- Inability to function at work or home
- Loss of pleasure in activities
- Feel like life isn’t worth living
- Wish you had died with your loved one
- Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
- Are unable to perform your normal daily activities
While there is no right way to grieve, these self-care tips can help you heal in a healthy way. For confidential assistance and resources on grief and self-care, please call your CIRT Team at: (800) 998-8194
Or your APFA EAP desk to help you with a referral to a mental health professional in your area at:
Employees have the option to meet with a counselor for up to four in-person counseling sessions free of charge by calling our Optum EAP number 800-363-7190.
Counselors provide confidential support and are there to assist you with information, resources, referrals, and a list of therapists in your area. Inform them you are an American Airlines Flight Attendant that would like to take advantage of the four free counseling sessions.
APFA National EAP Specialist