If you feel you didn’t deal with a previous loss in your best way, don’t despair. Dr. William Buckley explains to Dr. Gloria Horsley that you can take steps to handle loss and grief differently next time. They spoke at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference, where Dr. Buckley provided tips and insights on managing grief. He points out that many families have experienced a loss before, and it’s no surprise that they have a range of “bad feelings” around that loss and ideas on how they could have handled it better. Those past losses give people feelings of shame, guilt, disappointment and anger.
Doing the next loss better is always possible, and it may also be that the person doesn’t recall all the “right things” they did. Some of the things Dr. Buckley recommends doing differently include anticipating depression, anticipating burdensome-ness for caregivers, anticipating how to manage pain better and anticipating what kind of disabilities may occur. All of these things were learned a little more during the last loss, and can be applied to new ones.
Focusing on What You Can Control
You can’t control depression, but you can control how you deal with it. You can’t control losing a loved one, but you can control what kind of support network you build for yourself. There are many actions a person can take, many of them in preparation for a loss, which makes the experience a little more manageable for everyone. Dr. Buckley reminds everyone to avoid forgetting about yourself, especially if you’re a caregiver.
The author of Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Death and Dying poses 18 pro and con scenarios that are common. His goal is to highlight the fact that death isn’t black and white, and gives actionable steps for a more seamless death and dying situation.