ALL OF US, AT SOME TIME IN OUR LIVES, WILL EXPERIENCE GRIEF
Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, divorce, job loss, a devastating illness, or a loss of whatever is really important to you, we all mourn. We all end up dealing with grief. I’ve been through the grieving process multiple times in my life; I lost both my parents and my brother in my childhood, and in adulthood was diagnosed with terminal cancer and went through a divorce while fighting this death sentence. I missed much of my daughter’s childhood fighting for my life. That’s a lot of grief for a young man to shoulder, but I came out on top and you can, too.
Sometimes it seems like grief runs so deep it affects every cell in your body. It’s such a shock to the system it feels like all you can do is just try to survive. Dealing with grief can make you so distraught and emotionally unstable that it’s tempting to drink your sorrows away, or “reward yourself” with sweets, carbs, and alcohol. Or maybe for you the challenge is getting your appetite back and eating anything at all.
I’m here to tell you all of us have weaknesses that want to come out during times of stress and trials, but you have to dig down deep and find your strength, find your reasons to live and thrive again. Fight back! Every single one of us has a time that gets us down or sets us back, where someone gives up on us or kicks us to the curb. But it’s not about what gets you down; it’s about getting back up.
I learned to cope with grief by getting up and doing something about it. I went out and exercised, got out in nature, and set small goals and stayed focused on achieving them. You have to decide that rather than getting arthritis in the wrist from opening the fridge all day to self-medicate with food, you instead choose to take charge and decide it’s not going to defeat you – decide to come out on top.
There is so much more in life for you to look forward to, live it well in memory of whom you’ve lost.
GRIEF CAN LITERALLY MAKE YOU SICK
The loss of someone you love is one of life’s most stressful events. Grief is a risk factor for cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, and severe depression. You can die of a broken heart; Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is known as “broken heart syndrome,” where extreme emotion temporarily causes a chamber in the heart to balloon and mimics the symptoms of a heart attack. Also, your risk of a heart attack increases 21 fold in the 24 hours following the loss of a loved one, so any chest pain during mourning needs to be addressed immediately because of this risk.
Grief can also impact your immune system, your body’s first line of defense. The stress causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system by reducing neutrophil immune cell function. Normally the hormone DHEA balances out this effect, but if you are over 30 years old or have been under prolonged stress, your levels have decreased, making your immune system more vulnerable. The longer you mourn, the more your immune system is affected, increasing the risk of cancer. This is compounded by the loss in appetite that comes with bereavement and depression, which leads to nutrient deficiencies.
NOURISH YOURSELF TO PROTECT YOUR HEALTH
It’s more important than ever during times of emotional stress to nourish your body with nutrient dense foods and supplements. If you’re neglecting eating, you’ll find yourself with low energy and low moods, feeling dead on your feet. If you are comforting yourself with sugars, carbs, and alcohol, you’ll find yourself gaining weight. Feed yourself well; put some life back in.
If getting enough calories in is a challenge for you, I recommend a good multivitamin. While nothing can replace a healthy diet, this can get you going in the right direction and replenish some of those missing nutrients that help you have more energy and better moods. If you don’t have the energy to make yourself nutritious meals right now, consider adding a high quality Greens Formula to a glass of water in the morning. These are some of the most nutrient dense foods available and can boost your energy so you can take good care of yourself throughout the day.
With the stress on the adrenals, which make your stress hormones, a good Adrenal Formula supplement is your first line of defense to maintain your health while grieving. Choose one with B vitamins including pantothenic acid, immune support like vitamins A and C and zinc, and adrenal glandular extracts to support healthy glands. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in your diet that only “rob Peter to pay Paul” and create a nutrient deficit you’ll have to make up later.
Another supplement to consider with depression is 50 to 200mg of 5-HTP. This natural amino acid supplement is the precursor to serotonin, the body’s best-known “feel good” hormone. Serotonin also helps you feel full faster when you eat, helping with those sugar and carb cravings.
Anxiety is another common symptom that comes along with grief, and GABA is the calming neurotransmitter supplement of choice. The dose range really varies with this one, from 200mg per dose in up to 4 doses per day, to 400mg doses 3 times daily. It’s best to start low and work your way up as needed. GABA can make you sleepy, so make sure you try the first doses at home to see how it affects you. Be sure you save a dose for bedtime to beat the insomnia that can come when dealing with grief.
The Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil are not only heart protective but also have been shown to help with moods in the long term. The balance of Omega fats found in this blend of fish oils has been shown to remove harmful fats from the blood and reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease.
BE AN OVERCOMER
Last week, as I stood at the top of a beautiful mountain ski run, overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery on this earth, I stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and enjoyed it for my dad, too. I could choose to live a life of regret and sorrow, always looking back to what could have been, but I’m too much of a fighter for that. If you find yourself struggling with grief, I understand the pain you’re going through. I want you to know you can choose to move past that, overcome the grief, and live your best life. Get out in nature, nourish yourself with healthy food and nutritional supplements, and set small goals you can focus on and achieve to help you move past the pain you’re in right now. If I can overcome grief after all I’ve been through, I belief anyone can.