Grievers may wonder; “Is There a Medication for That?”
May 10, 2023
BY KEN BARRINGER
I guess the answer is “yes” and “no”. Sure there are medicines that can bring relief in a relatively quick manner to help reduce our pain and suffering. Some medicines are appropriate – anti-anxiety or depression medications for instance. Some “medicines” are not so legitimate – drinking alcohol, taking non prescribed drugs as a form of self-medication. However, both of these are temporary relief sources. We live in a world that is geared towards sprinting; short, quick bursts of speed that get us to where we want to be. However, we know grief management is a marathon, a grueling, grinding road that we have to work at daily in order to run that long race.
Part of American culture is the implication that a “good” life is one with great pleasures and little to no pain. This is a delusion perpetrated by advertising and social media. If we consciously, or unconsciously, subscribe to this myth we might seek out medication to sooth our way through grief – be they appropriate or self-medicating. Makes sense; we feel something, we take something to make it go away. While it’s a short-term solution, the pain can come back more ravenous until we are ready to do the grief work in a more sustainable way. The medicines can put us in a good place to start doing the grief work but the medicine alone doesn’t do it.
Of course, none of this is to minimize those whose functioning relies on reducing their anxiety and/or depression. The emphasis here is more on doing something in conjunction with the medicine. As someone who does talk therapy for a living, I know it’s not for everyone. Everyone feels grief, not everyone talks their way through it. So, what else is there? Some people feel relief through massage, meditation, or some expressive art (visual or performing). Others may find yoga, acupuncture or using “music as therapy”. Additionally, journaling, energy tapping, or emotional support animals may supplement medication. Certainly, many chart the unchartered course without medication. There isn’t one be-all-end-all method. The “treatment” is as unique and individualized as the grief. What you need at one stage of life may shift at another. The key questions to answer are;
Are you open to trying a variety of options?
Are you willing to do something that’s uncomfortable?
Are you curious about different management techniques than you imagined you might need?
Can you measure “success” incrementally (I’m in pain, but no longer suffering)?
There is only so much we can endure emotionally then the grief must go somewhere – impacting our behavior, body, cognition, spirit. If your options for management bring relief, don’t hurt anyone (including yourself) and aren’t avoidant why not do it? Medicine alone probably won’t do it. It needs to be in conjunction with something else.