HIV POSITIVE  Caretakers
Coping With A Loss

Getting Extra Help

Grief can cause a wide variety of feelings, reactions and changes, and all of this is to be expected. Sometimes grief is very complicated or prolonged, and then it's especially important to consider professional help. Anyone who is grieving a loss, though, might consider such help. Counselors, therapists and clergy often have training and experience in grief and loss and can play a critical role in your working through grief. Your local treatment center, crisis hotlines and community mental health centers can help you find such resources. Support groups and local bereavement groups can be important sources of understanding, support and alternatives to isolation.

How do you know if grief is unusually complicated, if extra help is needed? Some of the signs are:

  • guilt that can't be shaken, that grows into self-hate;

  • unrelenting anger and hostility;

  • increased use of alcohol or drugs;

  • inability to carry out daily tasks and take on responsibilities for months after the loss;

  • self-destructive and suicidal thoughts or actions;

  • feeling swamped by loneliness, without relief;

  • having fears, or panic attacks;

  • loss of self-esteem, feeling worthless;

  • inability to feel anything.

Anyone grieving can experience these things for a while, but if they last for weeks and months, outside help is needed. Even without these problems, many people find counseling and support groups very helpful.

    Suggested Reading:

    Shaefer, Dan and Christine Lyons. How Do We Tell the Children? A Parents' Guide to Helping Children Understand and Cope When Someone Dies. New York: Newmark Press, 1986.

    James, John W. and Cherry, Frank. The Grief Recovery Handbook. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.

    Viorst, Judith. Necessary Losses. New York: Fawcett/Ballantine, 1986.

    Moody, Raymond. Life After Life. New York: Bantam Books, 1975.

    Jampolsky, Gerald G. There's a Rainbow Behind Every Dark Cloud and Straight from the Siblings: Another Look at the Rainbow. Celestial Arts: 1978, 1982.

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