Tips on Coping with Grief, Loss and Death

For most people death is an evil stranger who rarely casts it's shadow on to their lives. For me as a healthcare worker, death is an all too familiar villain. Death is always just over my shoulder waiting to take from me the people I work hard daily to keep safe and alive.

I have cared for many dying patients and no matter how often I witness a death, I am overcome with sadness for them and their loved ones. No matter how at ease professionally I am with the death and dying, I still am not immune to the shock and overwhelming grief when someone I know dies. I worked with Bo J. Spates on and off for 3 years. We were co-workers and friends. His death hit me hard. I wasn't prepared for it like I am with my patients.

Through my grief at his death is minor compared to that of his daughter, mother, family and close friends, it's still difficult to accept his death. Being a healthcare professional I realize that grief is a natural part of recovering from a tragic loss of a love one. Without grief, you can not heal.

Everyone experiences grief differently. I have developed ways to deal the the stress and sadness from the amount of death I see. The first thing I do is acknowledge my pain and grief. I give myself space and time to be sad. I might even cry. Studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, which is your body's natural pain killer and a “feel-good” hormone.” There you have it, a good cry is therapeutic.

Another way I have deal with the pain of losing my patients or a loved one is cook a ton of food for my daughter and friends. Just the act of doing something I enjoy, while feeding others helps me deal with my pain. In warmer weather, I plant flowers and make a small garden on my patio to honor the person. After Bo and two other of my patients died, I planted a small potted garden. Bo, and many of my patients have a plant or flower that I am growing and caring for in their memory. It's just my way of being able to still take care of them while keeping their memory alive in my heart.

WLLR has established a 'Go Fund Me' college account for his sixteen-year-old daughter. If you would like to contribute here's the link:

What is your way of dealing with grief?

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