Self-Care: Important Step In Grieving Process

Andrea Yingling

Last week, I began a series on grief in the workplace. This video explains what grief can look like and how one can recognize grief in an employee or co-worker.

I’m pleased to present you with a three-part interview with a young lady provides tremendous insight into the grieving process. The following is the first-part of the interview with Andrea Yingling, Bereavement Coordinator for the AseraCare Hospice.

Tell us about what you do.

I’m a Bereavement Coordinator, and I provide grief support and services to those who have experienced any type of loss.  I mostly work with individuals, families, and community resources that have lost a loved one to death, but I also offer support to any one who has experienced other types of losses – loss of job, loss of income, loss of independence, etc.

The type of support and services I offer vary.  I offer anything from a phone call, to a visit, to a hug.  I attend and help to facilitate funeral services, memorial services, support groups, community presentations, and community outreach.  I currently work for a hospice organization, where we take care of individuals who have a diagnosis of 6 months or less to live.

I offer pre-bereavement services (before the death) and bereavement services up to 13 months after the death.  I do work closely with hospice patients where the loss is foreseen, but I have also worked with individuals who have lost a loved one suddenly, to drug overdoses, heart attacks, car accidents, etc.  I do what I can to help normalize their grief and their grieving process as much as possible.

Grief is a process, and it’s adjusting to one’s current lifestyle without the physical presence of their loved one.  It takes time, and it’s something one doesn’t choose to go through.  So I am there to help them adjust as much as possible and be able to go back to a somewhat normal routine in life.

Can you offer insight into the steps one can take as grieving person for helping them cope?

There are several basic steps to begin with when going through the grieving process.  First, you have to recognize that grief is unique to everyone.  There are several factors that play a role in this.  One is the type of relationship you had with the person you lost.  Another is the type of loss you’ve had – was it sudden or did you know death was approaching?  And also, you have to take your personality into perspective.

Everyone is unique and the way one handles certain situations is different than the next.  I usually explain to people the way you handle stress is usually how you will typically handle your grief.  If you are one to hold things in when stressed out and go about your business without discussing it with someone, you will more than likely be this way when grieving.  If you are one to verbalize your thoughts and feelings, and depend on others to help you during a stressful situation, you will typically be this way when grieving.  Now that you have recognized the factors surrounding your loss, the next thing you need to do is recognize how you are feeling.  Look at your emotions, your thoughts, your reactions.  Examine to see what you need, who you need, and what is troubling you the most.

Next, I encouraged everyone to talk to someone.  Whether you think you can handle it on your own or not, it is always good to turn to someone who will be able to guide you, support you, reassure you, and validate your feelings.  This can be someone who proves to be a positive support to you – a friend, a family member, a clergyman, a counselor, a professional, a mentor.  And lastly, make sure to take care of yourself.  If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to move forward.

People will say, “Well, this is not the time to be thinking of myself.  I don’t want to be selfish.”  But it is not about selfishness – it’s about self-care.  So look at your appetite, your diet, your sleeping patterns, and your health.  Discuss with your physician what you have been going through and make them aware of your surrounding situation.  Try to form a routine for yourself.  The more structure you have in your life, the easier it will be to deal with your grief, and the easier it will be to get back to a normal routine.  But remember, all of this takes time.

Stayed tuned for Part II next week.

Andrea Yingling is a Certified Grief Counselor currently working as a Bereavement Coordinator for AseraCare Hospice.

Specializing with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, Andrea has helped hundreds of families cope with difficult life situations, as well as the loss of a family member.  Listening, coaching, and engaging people in her educational programs is key to her leadership approach.  Her common sense style lets participants examine the grieving process by “taking a step back and viewing the situation from a fresh new perspective”.

She has a Masters of Art in Thanatology and a Bachelors of Science in Long-Term Care Administration. She works closely with funeral homes, cemeteries, senior centers, skilled nursing facilities, assist living facilities, and other community resources.  She has educated funeral directors on different grieving subjects across the state of PA through Pennsylvania Funeral Director’s Association.  She was recently recognized as Employee of the Quarter in 2011.

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