The Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, Alan Pederson, joins the president of the Open to Hope Foundation, Dr. Gloria Horsley, to discuss the importance of health while in the grieving process. Grief is a natural response to loss, but it can be devastating. Special guest Dr. Coralease Ruff is featured, a registered nurse, professor, and international grieving consultant. When grieving, your heart rate can go up and your blood pressure increases. You may have digestive issues, respiratory system problems, heart issues, and your musculoskeletal system can be affected, says Dr. Ruff. Physical symptoms are common, and can be dangerous.

Emotionally, you may feel guilt or anger, towards the person you lost, yourself, caregivers, and others. Crying, of course, is a natural response but it can be accompanied by depression, death wishes, and confusion. There’s a thin line between grief and depression, and treating depression is critical for self-care. The cognitive changes from grief can include memory loss, changes in decision making, and trouble with complex activities. Your concentration may suffer.

Healthy Healing

When grieving, your body is exposed to adrenaline on a continuous basis, which can traumatize the body and generally drain your health and energy. The goal of true health is to stop the fight or flight instinct, which your body naturally goes to when there’s a loss. Start with the goal of sleeping “your” right amount of hours (usually seven to ten) and stick to regular bedtime hours.

Total care of physical health includes nutrition, hydration, and perhaps supplements if approved by your doctor. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs. Exercise is another critical component. Rest and relaxation are just as important, as is scheduling time each day to relax with a variety of techniques. Your health matters most in urgent situations, including grief.


Coralease Ruff

Dr. Coralease Ruff is a Bereavement Facilitator, A Registered Nurse, a University Professor and an International Nursing Consultant. She and her husband became bereaved parents in 1997, following the death of their 21-year old daughter in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. Since then, she has been involved in the Compassionate Friends Inc. in many roles. Coralease is a frequent presenter on grief topics locally and nationally including The Compassionate Friends (TCF) National Conferences, the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association and The Society of Childhood Emergencies as well as local universities, churches and community centers. She has held faculty positions at Catholic University, University of Washington, The Catholic University and is currently Professor Emeritus at Howard University. She is an end of life nursing educator and developed and currently teaches a university course on Grief and Loss to graduate and undergraduate nursing students. She has published widely in professional nursing literature and the lay press. Her grief articles include Grieving through the Years; When the Nurse is Grieving and Finding Help and Hope in the Aftermath of the Virginia Tech Tragedy. She combined a biography of her daughter with a grief handbook entitled; Her Light Still Shines which is published by iUniverse and will be available in bookstores soon. Dr. Coralease Ruff appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss, Grief and Your Health: Taking Care of Yourself. To hear this interview, click on the following link: Dr. Coralease Ruff appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss, Coping with the Sudden Death of a Child in a Foreign Country. To hear this interview, go to the following link:

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