The Caregivers is a unique series focused on the challenges and triumphs of caregiving. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between AARP and Word In Black.
For Miles Ross, the news of his sister’s death came suddenly and unexpectedly. She had been a calming presence in his life for more than fifty years, guiding him through their mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, their father’s sudden heart attack, and his marital woes.
Ross had not experienced a loss of this magnitude and a pain so deep. To cope, he began taking on more work projects.
“It felt easier to work than to face my feelings,” he remembers.
He started to distance himself from his friends. They couldn’t possibly understand what he was going through, he thought. Eventually, he completely retreated. When the pain became unbearable, he found himself in a state of sadness that he couldn’t seem to escape.
“That’s when I knew I needed help,” he says. Ross began seeing a therapist. This was his first experience in counseling, at 58-years-old.
Grief is an individual journey that we must take on for ourselves. How you handle your pain over time may be completely different from your loved ones. What’s for sure is that you’ve got to give yourself time to grieve after a loss.
The percentage of African Americans who seek out services for mental health needs is up for debate. There’s a lot of work to be done to make sure that we have consistent and affordable care. Still, there are people available to support you through your grief. Here is a directory of resources for your in-person and virtual needs.
Join a support group.
The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) provides a virtual directory of mediators, doulas, and spiritual teachers. Depending on your support needs, you may want to check out the Black Women’s Health Imperative. You can also find some other organizations here.
Let your creativity flow.
Give yourself the freedom to express your limitless creativity. Write down your thoughts. Sing in the bathtub. Dance in your kitchen. Learning a new skill could help you shift your perspective. Here are some virtual and in-person classes to help you tap into your power.
Join a faith community.
Trust in a force beyond you.
Remember to give yourself time, as healing is a process.
For more resources, visit AARP.
Please note that Miles Ross’ name has been changed upon request.
Mental well-being is a cornerstone of healthy living. AARP wants to help you get healthier and stay healthy. Visit AARP’s Mental Health Center at www.aarp.org/mentalhealth for tips, tools and resources that can help you develop healthy habits for mental well-being.