On a recent stay at a hotel, my sister and I were awakened shortly after midnight to the piercing sound of the fire alarm. I stirred first and stumbled to get my shoes on while telling my sister we needed to evacuate the building. Having worked with children all these years, I am well aware of the procedure to quickly leave the premises before the fire trucks come to check on things. However, to our wonderment, we were the only people who evacuated the building. The fire alarm turned off after a minute or two and no one else stirred. Besides the night clerk running down the hall and entering an “Employee Only” room, the halls were once again quiet.
Calling the front desk, we were told it was a false alarm. As I was settling back into bed, I tried to calm down and still my mind from the adrenalin rush it had just experienced. I began to ponder and question why some of us moved into action at the fire alarm and others chose to ignore the warning. Is it that they just slept through the danger call? Was it a conscious choice to stay put and possibly be in harm’s way? Do we, on our grief journeys, ever act similarly?
What alarms might we encounter foretelling of the bumps in our journey? How might we handle these situations better? Is there a way we can help others we know who are struggling with grief as we watch from the outside?
One of my biggest struggles was with food. I failed to eat well for a few months and therefore lacked energy and strength to deal with the necessary responsibilities of grief. The difficulty for those grieving can fluctuate between eating too much, not eating at all, and not taking in the right kind of food that would provide healthy calories and nutrition. The results of poor eating habits can definitely sound an alarm in our lives.
Sleep was another difficulty I encountered. I did not sleep a full night for over a year and fought the results of exhaustion and stress-related fatigue for quite a while. Others walking through grief and loss fight with the desire to do nothing but sleep, spending hours a day in bed in order to ignore the life they must now live without a loved one. Both of these situations can be alarming if they continue for too long. If you have a loved one in your life struggling with either too little or too much sleep, gently encourage them to seek help from a professional. Self-medicating is not the answer for them.
As you walk through grief, or watch a loved one maneuver this journey, be patient while providing them with a voice of reason. While those in grief do not need you to criticize, you might be able to ask if they are willing to hear your opinion of what you see. Then give them choices in how they might proceed. So much has been taken from their control, it is a gift in allowing them a voice in their own health decisions while you are trying to come to their aid.
Bless you as your deal with the “fire alarms” in life.
Until next time –