How am I supposed to calm down, quiet my mind, and focus?

Losing a parent is a very traumatizing situation; afterwards many children begin to form new and different fears, which can result in many types of anxiety (nightmares, not being able to focus, anger, etc.). What is a good way of calming oneself down when he or she is feeling apprehensive, or feeling unable to achieve common, everyday tasks such as sleeping and focusing?

Having reactions and feelings that are different than what you usually have is very common. When a trauma happens, you may feel that you have no control over your life. Expressions of your loss such as anxiety, anger, and guilt, are ways of trying to make sense of what happened. Fears and nightmares can occur because the trauma may be overwhelming to you. Talking and sharing your feelings with someone can help you understand what is happening and feel more in control of your life. You may need to repeat the story many times. Gradually these feelings and fears lessen. If not, talking to a counselor who has experience with grief and loss can be very helpful.

Some people find support groups helpful because they can talk to others who have had a similar experience. There are different types of groups. They include groups that are geared to activities, weekly topics, discussion, or informal gatherings. See what type of group is available to you and if that group is suitable for your needs.

You may become depressed due to the loss. You feel depleted and overwhelmed by all the feelings you are experiencing. Thus you withdraw and have no energy to do more. If the depression does not go away, professional help is needed.

Sometimes relaxation exercises are helpful such as deep breathing. Journaling is a way to express yourself, to make sense of what happened and to say things that are too hard to talk about. Getting involved in a project or program around loss is often helpful.

–Judy Schiffman

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