Managing resiliency in difficult times

  • Published
  • By Marsha Candela
  • Director of Psychological Health
For the most part, people have sought out my services as a counselor when they have experienced or are anticipating some type of loss in their life. This may be a divorce, a child moving on to college, a demotion, empty nest, deployment or a tragic death of a loved one. As we mourn, our resiliency or adaptation to life can be negatively impacted. Loss comes in all shapes and sizes and affects each one of us differently. Everyone has their own way of addressing their emotional pain.  Stages of grief, which are fluid and flexible, were first identified by E. Kubler-Ross as briefly described below:

1. Denial. We go numb. We simply cannot process what is happening to us. Denial works as a guard that enables us to pace the impact the loss has had on our world. " I cannot believe that this is true."

2. Anger. Getting in touch with our feelings of abandonment that are related to the loss. Anger is a necessary step to move through and beyond as we face the fact that our world has somehow changed. Often our anger is targeted on someone or something that is associated with the loss and serves to keep us connected to the event. An example of this would be to become angry with the doctor who was treating your loved one when they passed away from an illness. Although we may know intellectually that the doctor did all they could, emotionally we want to punish or make the doctor culpable for the pain we are experiencing.

3. Bargaining. This phase of grief's purpose is to allow you time to not feel the pain of your loss. We try to somehow go back in time and make changes that we irrationally believe will change the outcome of the events that led to the loss. "If only......." If only I would have communicated better with my wife she would not have left me.

4. Depression. Fully coming to an understanding that the loss has occurred. There is no going back. No amount of denial, anger or bargaining is going to bring back your loved one or take away the pain from the loss. We feel sad and are coming to terms with impact the loss has had on our lives.

5. Acceptance. Finally beginning to see your life as it stands after the experienced loss and realizing that you are going to be alright. The "sun" is starting to come out again. You are feeling more like you old self.

Unfortunately, we can have a maladaptive or difficult time with mourning and our feelings of anger and depression can go well beyond what we believe to be a "normal" healing time which is approximately one year after the "event." If we don't grieve the loss initially, if we suppress our feelings at the onset, we can internalize the pain and continue to feel the loss as we attempt to move forward with our lives.

It is important to know that good self - care is the mainstay of resiliency. This self-care can mean talking about the loss with supportive people (wingman, friends, family, doctor, Chaplain, DPH), eating well, maintaining social relationships and not isolating, attending spiritual services, taking a vacation, or exercising. Each person has their own unique set of needs they experience as they grieve. Getting in touch with these needs and allowing you to  meet them are good resilient based choices. You are a member of the Selfridge Family so remind yourself that you are not alone. Reach out and let others in. At the end of the storm there is always a rainbow, if you look for it.

As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, my book recommendation is Overcoming Grief by Sue Morrison. This is a self-help book based on the cognitive model of therapy.

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Marsha Candela, LMSW, is the director of psychological health for the 127th Wing. Her office is located in the Medical Building, room 248. She is at Selfridge Tuesday-Fridays and 127th Wing drill weekends.

She earned a masters in social work from University of Michigan in 1984. She has been a practicing clinician, specializing in the treatment of children, adults and families initially and later supervising and running a full scale mental health clinic prior to her position at Selfridge . She can evaluate and refer both civilians and military personnel from all branches and can provide brief treatment to the members of the ANG.

Candela states "Please know that you can just call me, email me or drop in my office to meet with me. There is no issue that I have not worked with in my 30 years as a social worker. Coming to see me will not negatively affect your career at Selfridge. I look forward to working with all of you and am confident that this career choice is a win-win for all of us."


Contact information
Office : 586.239.2510
Email: marsha.candela@ang.af.mil

About the 127th Wing
Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command operations by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 98th year of continuous military air operations in 2015.