All of us will experience a significant loss at some point. One that challenges our sense of self no matter how prepared we feel. In recognition of National Grief Awareness Day today, let’s discuss lesser-known areas of grief. There are a few powerful but potentially triggering related reads in The Checkup—so scroll intentionally. Then keep scrolling for news around self-harm stats, long Covid + lowering health costs.
Many of us experience anticipatory grief without knowing there’s a name for it. But it’s relatively common to pre-grieve a loss—especially for young people watching someone we love navigate a chronic, degenerative or terminal illness.
Health experts sometimes call this forward-looking grief. It comes with unique stages, like accepting that death is inevitable + imagining the future without the person we love.
Some research suggests these steps soften the eventual loss. But other (more recent) research shows no such effect. For more about pre-grief risk factors + specific coping mechanisms, head to Forbes Health.
Do floods, fires, droughts + scorching temperatures have you grieving climate change? You’re not alone. Climate scientists are feeling a profound loss, too.
For decades, they’ve focused on educating the public to accept that climate change is real. Now that we feel the effect of the climate crisis, they offer proactive ways to grieve.
Nobel-prize winner Dave Schimel recommends looking for solutions. “The best treatment for climate grief, he says, is knowing you’ve made a contribution to reducing emissions or building resilience.” We can also plant a native garden, camp, bird watch + write advocacy letters to our congresspeople.
Learn more at Nature.
Health professionals finally get that standard therapy does not work for prolonged grief.
Added to the DSM-5 in 2022, prolonged grief disorder (PGD) affects up to 10% of bereaved adults. Symptoms include not accepting the death, struggling to relate to others and feeling numb, intensely angry or sad more days than not for at least six months.
Specialized therapy techniques include telling stories to help you accept the loss + look to the future. A clinical trial is testing whether Naltrexone (an addiction medication) can also help reduce yearnings for the lost person.
Learn some coping mechanisms + more at AARP.
Suicide deaths reached a record high in the US in 2022… (CNN). Despite advances in suicide prevention services, suicide deaths hit record numbers in 2022, making self-harm our 11th cause of death. (Higher than the flu.) Guns were involved in over half, with white men + those over 75 most at risk for gun suicide. If you experience thoughts of self-harm, please call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Understanding the link between long COVID and mental health conditions (AHA). Illness, isolation, financial insecurity + more can trigger anxiety and depression in people with long Covid. Those with chronic illness deal with higher rates of mental illness in general. But for one clinician, half of their long Covid patients expressed thoughts of self-harm, too. The affect of Covid-19 on the brain may also be at play.
The best way to prevent long Covid is to not get Covid-19. But if you do, Dr. B is here to help anyone at high risk for severe illness. Learn more about our Covid-19 care here.
Cutting health care costs (NY Times). The Biden Administration has already done much to lower healthcare costs. They’ve tackled insulin prices, hearing aids, ACA premiums and Medicare expenses. Now, Biden pledges to reduce the cost of 10 major drugs, make ACA subsidies permanent + cap insulin costs for those with private insurance.