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This month at the Kid Clinic: Tools to use to cope with grief

This month at the Kid Clinic: Tools to use to cope with grief

By Brianne Wooldridge, PPC
​CCMG Kid Clinic

Losing someone or something you love can be a painful and often overwhelming emotion. Individuals who are grieving may experience difficult feelings that may make it seem like the pain and sadness will never go away. These are normal reactions; however, each person experiences grief in a way that is unique to them.

It's also important to note that most associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief including:

  • Death of a pet
  • Diagnosis of a terminal illness
  • Divorce or relationship breakup
  • Graduating from high school or college, or your children moving out to attend college
  • Loss of a job or retirement
  • Loss of safety after a trauma
  • A loved one's serious illness
  • A miscarriage
  • Selling the family home

While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to help individuals cope with the process. The stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—provide some tools to help individuals heal.

  1. Denial: Frequently the first stage of grief, it serves to protect the individual from experiencing the intensity of the loss and allows time for the individual to acknowledge the impact of the loss. Individuals in this stage may say things like, "this can't be happening to me," or may feel numb or that their world has become meaningless.
  2. Anger: This stage usually appears when the individual feels helpless or powerless. Individuals in this stage may say, "why is this happening?" and they may be searching for who is to blame.
  3. Bargaining: In this stage, the individual may experience persistent thoughts about what could have been done to prevent the loss. They may say things like, "I could have saved him," or "It's my fault that they are divorcing."
  4. Depression: In this stage, the individual is realizing the true extent of the loss. They may say things like, "I'm too sad to do anything," or ask if "there is any point in going on alone?" It's important to understand that this form of depression is not necessarily a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss.
  5. Acceptance: In this stage, the individual is coming to terms with their feelings, and accepting the reality that the loss occurred. This may be harder for individuals who have lost someone or something for the first time, and are now adjusting to a new normal.

Again, grieving is a personal and unique experience, so there is no order to the stages of grief and an individual may not go through each stage of grief; in fact, they may not go through any of them at all. A good approach to take when experiencing grief is to allow time to process the loss, and find a trusted friend, family member or counselor to open up to about your feelings.

The Kid Clinic is a school-based pediatric clinic offering medical care and counseling services for Campbell County students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and their siblings over the age of 2. It is located at 800 Butler Spaeth Rd., across from St. Matthew’s Catholic Church. The Kid Clinic is open Monday-Friday from 8 am-5 pm. For more information, call 307-688-8700 or visit www.cchwyo.org/kidclinic.

The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between Campbell County Health and Campbell County School District.