Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dehydration During Grief Can Cause Problems

Unrecognized chronic dehydration is a condition affecting a good majority of people who are grieving.

According to Dr. Lou LaGrand, grief counselor and author of eight books, this is a hidden condition occurring in non-mourners and mourners alike at any age and plays a major role in your health. From this condition you can develop headaches, confusion, stomachaches, sluggishness, dizziness and falling. Grieving exacerbates dehydration due to the emotional swamp that has to be navigated.

“Daily water consumption is an essential part of self-care and a critical coping technique when mourning a death,” he said. “Grief work is highly stressful demanding great energy and endurance. Water will help in reducing the physical pain of grief and in supporting brain maintenance.”

Dr. LaGrand in this ezine article lists what you should know about daily water consumption and dehydration while grieving.

1. Drink water at specific times before you get to the “I’m thirsty” stage.
How much water should you drink? At least 40 ounces per day. That is equivalent to five 8-ounce glasses.

2. Before each meal drink 8 ounces. It is good for your kidneys. After each meal drink another 8 ounces. Already you have taken in six of the eight glasses. Two other glasses during the day is attainable. You will know if you are drinking enough water if your urine is clear or lightly colored, not dark.

3. You must eat. One reason is that you need to keep your electrolytes normal. Thesee are substances like sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and magnesium. If you do not, you could have blood pressure problems and confused thinking. Just drinking water (not sports drinks or sodas) will not give you those minerals. Veggies, fruits and nuts help and at a time when you don’t feel like eating a whole meal, this will suffice.

4. Developing new routines such as drinking enough water and creating a new normal (the title of my new book that came out this month dealing with coping techniques and strategies) will help you immensely during your grief period to stay healthy, reduce the physical pain associated with grief and give you the energy you need to deal with whatever you must face to move on with your life.

NOTE: Next week I will report on the National Compassionate Friends Conference I will be attending and speaking at July 2-4 in Washington, D.C. I hope to see some of you there; please come up and introduce yourselves. I'd love to meet you.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Book Is Available!

I just received the exciting news that my new book is completed and has gone “live.” That means all the bookstores like Barnes and,,, and many others have it available for purchase. The book is a series of articles on general coping strategies, coping with special days of the year, informational techniques to use to cope, my personal coping strategies, ten inspirational stories from other bereaved parents, book recommendations and resources from general bereavement support groups to web sites and chat rooms.

It is full of ideas for bereaved parents to use, to pass along to others and most importantly, a guide for other family members, friends and therapists. For example, there are articles on dealing with anger, commonalities between bereaved parents, recognizing guilt, how women and men grieve, dealing with pain and suffering, inappropriate responses to bereaved parents, accepting other’s beliefs during grief, getting through the holidays, finding organizations for volunteering, inspirational music for the bereaved and many, many more ideas. I hope all of you reading this blog will get a copy, and see if it can be of help to you too.

Coincidentally, Marcy’s husband, who survived the car accident, has also written a book recently about his 16-year journey from near death to full recovery. I read it, and it is a riveting account of what he has gone through to become whole again. It is called Rise and Shine, by Simon Lewis, and I would recommend it to anyone who has had to deal with the medical profession, insurance companies, cutting-edge medical technologies and treatments to restore one’s health. It is an inspiring story tracing the neuro-rehabilitation he endures in search of the full recovery of his mind and the struggles and decisions one must face during the recovery period. I sent him an email telling him how much I enjoyed it but have not heard back from him.

I also want to thank all of you who have written me lovely notes about my writings through the years, and I hope you will continue to keep in touch with me and/or comment on any of the blogs I write each week.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tribute to a Friend

Today's writing I dedicate to a friend who died recently. She was a special friend, and a loving, caring mother, grandmother and wife. She was also a good teacher, always concerned about her students and their lives, always helpful where she could be. Most importantly to me, she knew my daughter, Marcy, for most of her life.

She and I knew each other for over 35 years. We met when she began teaching at the same school that I was teaching, and she stayed for even longer than I did. After I retired, she continued to substitute teach until a few weeks before she died, even in the face of illness and pulling a needed oxygen tank behind her all the time. She didn't care what anyone thought; she loved those kids and they her. They found her easy to talk to about any problem they had, whether it was with school, friends or family, and many times used endearing terms such as "Aunt" or "Mama" before her name. She was concerned and cared about each and every one of them in addition to being a good teacher.

Her children and Marcy grew up together. One of her sons was the same age as Marcy, and they belonged to the same organizations, went to religious school together, knew the same people. She followed Marcy's activities and life, always complimenting me very sincerely on an award she won, her engagement, her marriage.

When Marcy died she took it very hard and was always kind enough to mention her when appropriate and empathize when appropriate. She had no trouble bringing up her name and referring to events long past, as so many others seem to have trouble doing. I appreciated that more than I can say. I find it hard to think of her as no longer here, even though she lived a long, productive life. I can see her face at places I go and at activities I know she participated in, and I can't help but smile when thinking of her.

It is no different with my daughter. I always imagine seeing her in crowds and think of what a great time she would have had at various events. I think of what her life would have been like with her husband, with children, with friends, with family and with a great career.

The death of a friend is very sad and our child's death unthinkable, but we have memories that will always be with us, fond memories that we are able to recall at any given moment. The memories will always remain deep within us. We can look back at these memories and know our lives were blessed and enriched for having known and loved them. As for my friend, I will always think of her with very fond memories.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer Vacations

Time to think about your summer vacation time. As bereaved parents, we almost dread it. All we can think of are the wonderful vacations we had when our child was alive. Now we wonder if we can face going anywhere without them. What are some things we can do to make our new normal more enjoyable this summer?

Ask family members if they have any special places they’d like to go this summer. You may be surprised at their answers, which may include something their sibling, who is no longer here, may have always talked about doing or something they think will make you, as a parent, feel better. Don’t discount that children, at times of stress, can come up with good solutions.

You might want to think of a place that you and your family have never been or something you’ve never done that you always wanted to do like going on a cruise. Share that with your family and get their reaction. On a new location, you will not have to recall any old memories of years past and even though you will still think of how much your child would have liked this also, it is part of your new beginnings.

Your spouse may also have good suggestions for a vacation. Listen closely to what he/she has to say. Where you might have thought originally his idea would definitely not work for you, spouses may have a good point and thought it through more clearly than you at this time in your life.

Visit family and friends who live far away. Know that they will avoid talking about your child who died, so you will need to make it comfortable for them to do so by just telling them you’d like to hear some stories from days gone by. Sharing memories is very helpful for the grieving process and will put your family and friends at ease.

Don’t plan too much during your vacation. Being overtired and irritable will not be fun for you or your family, and going, going and doing, doing, will not help you forget. You will never forget your loss, so try to take care of yourself when traveling to stay in a good frame of mind for everyone else also.

To relax during your trip take some books or games for both solitary relaxing and family fun with monopoly, scrabble or Clue board games. Leave the computer behind as well as your usual busy activities and enjoy the moment. In our grief journey, we need to clear our heads to think rationally and these activities can help.

I’m not saying you should never think of the child you lost during your vacation, but try to think of good memories. Remember how much your child loved some of the activities you did together and know that he/she would want you to continue to enjoy your life because you know the child will always be in your heart and mind and never forgotten.