Coping with Anxiety While Grieving

Anxiety is a state of distress or uneasiness about future uncertainties. An anxious person might be tense, restless and/or jittery, unable to sleep, unable to concentrate, short of breath or numb. These physical signs may overshadow the psychological symptoms of fear, worry or apprehension. Look for:

  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Excitability
  • Muscle tension
  • Trembling
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tight feeling in the stomach
  • A sense that “I am losing control”

How to Prevent Anxiety

  • Get the facts
  • Talk with someone who has been through a similar situation
  • Increase participation in pleasant, distracting activities
  • Increase companionship and time spent with friends and family
  • Learn a relaxation technique

Things to Consider

  • An anxious person is often a demanding person
  • Anxiety may lead to sleep deprivation
  • If you previously coped with anxiety by becoming busy and are no longer able to be so active, consider pursuing other coping strategies

What to Do

  • Try to determine exactly what thoughts make you feel anxious
  • Talk to someone about your worries and fears
  • Know that it is OK to feel sad and afraid
  • Seek help through counseling, support groups, or a minister, priest or rabbi
  • Recall how you have coped with similar feelings in the past
  • Explore and learn relaxation techniques
  • Explore and learn visualization techniques
  • Keep a log of your moods and thoughts throughout the day
  • Take medications prescribed by your doctor for anxiety

Finally, families caring for a loved one who is on hospice care with VITAS can ask their team manager or bereavement services manager about a wonderful book published by VITAS. It addresses the anxiety and worries associated with a terminal illness. Author Maureen Kramlinger, MA, CT, the author of Making the Most of the Time We Have, says this in her introduction:

“Considering the information and opportunities discussed in the following pages will help you feel less vulnerable and anxious. You’ll be able to understand the reasons for the changes you see. That will help you engage with your loved one, talk to him or her, and feel more confident that you can recognize and respond to changing needs.”

Find out if hospice care could help your loved one.