Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: Acknowledging & handling grief

Posted at 7:45 AM, Sep 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-06 07:48:41-04

NAPLES, Fla. — It would be hard to find someone who isn't impacted by some kind of loss. And that loss — whether it's a friendship, a loved one, a pet, or a job — impacts each person differently. The David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health in Naples said it's important for people to acknowledge and handle their grief.

“Grief is a natural emotional response to loss," Laura Birnie, the Clinical Supervisor of Outpatient Services at the David Lawrence Centers, said. “The way that I like to describe grief, it is kind of a storm of emotional reactions during this process, until the person can regain some kind of peace.”

She said grief impacts someone's mental health in many ways.

"Grief can be very exhausting in distressing, so normally, people can develop some kind of symptoms of depression. And sometimes we even do not recognize that the symptoms are there," she said.

Birnie said with that depression comes:

  • Sadness
  • Inability to concentrate and function normally
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Not wanting to participate in their favorite activities
  • Isolation

She said there are ways to cope, starting with feeling all of those feelings.
"Accept that we are human beings, and allow yourself that we have to go to this process, even though it's a very painful process," Birnie said.

She also recommends:

  • Joining a support group
  • Exploring your spirituality
  • Connecting with your friends or loved ones
  • Developing healthy eating and sleeping habits
  • Exercising regularly

Birnie said if none of that works, it's time to get professional help. And if someone you love is grieving, she said the first thing to do is show them you support them.
"Even like to cook a meal, or to offer to babysit for the person, or invite the person to do or something so that the person can leave the house," she said.

Birnie said the most important thing to do for someone who is grieving is listen.

“I understand that can become very overwhelming for friends and family members because they do not know how to respond, how to help in this kind of situation. But sometimes everything that the person needs is someone to listen," she said.

She said many times, people who are grieving turn to unhealthy ways to cope, like substance use, so it's important to keep that in check if you're dealing with grief.

To learn more about the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health, click here.