NEWS

GRIEF AND MENTAL HEALTH

Friday 16 October 2009, 2:10PM
By Skylight
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In light of the recent Mental Health Awareness Week, Skylight reflects on its Grief Is Like A Wave support resource to help people make the connection between grief and mental well being. With so many people dealing with grief, especially those affected by the tsunami in Samoa, it is important to support people to make sense of their grief and understand the importance of looking after their mental well being.

“Grieving for a significant loss or life change can impact people’s mental well being more than many realise,” says Tricia Hendry, Skylight’s acting Chief Executive.

“For many people, experiencing loss and grief can be like being caught in a wave so forceful that they can’t figure out which way is up.

“They can be disoriented, confused, tossed around emotionally up and down, and forced to catch a breath whenever they can get air. It can be overwhelming and very intense for many.”

The grief thoughts, feelings and reactions people often have can:

  • come and go – ebbing and flowing like waves
  • come at you one at a time
  • crash on you all at once
  • blend into each other
  • be brief – last for just minutes
  • be intense and seem to last forever
  • be hard to put into words
  • be unexpected and scary
  • be totally numbing and paralysing
  • be overwhelming at times and feel out of control
  • be delayed and hit you at a later time
  • challenge you and help you learn more about yourself.

Grief is a normal but far reaching human reaction to loss. We can be affected physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. It can help to get the kind of information, resources and support Skylight offers to New Zealanders, wherever they live.

Skylight recommends people take all the time and space they need to grieve and to adjust to what’s happened in their own way.

“Your grief reactions are like your fingerprint,” says Tricia Hendry, “unique and personal to you.”

“Grief hits you in the guts,” comments Sam, a teenager Skylight supported, who has faced the death of a parent. “It can put your head into overload. You feel like you’re going crazy!”

Skylight offers grief support packs, and resources nationwide, and in the Wellington Region counselling support and support groups as well.Skylight’s website www.skylight.org.nz also offers helpful articles to download.

People can also search Skylight NZ on You Tube to see eight short video clips of NZ teens talking about ways they’ve got through times of loss and grief.

If you or anyone you know needs support for grief, loss or change – whatever the cause – please contact Skylight on 0800 299 100 or visit www.skylight.org.nz.