The End of the Space Shuttle Program – Five Tips To Cope With Grief

Many of us are saddened that today, July 21st, 2011, marks the end of the NASA Space Shuttle program. Atlantis landed safely this morning, and this particular shuttle will remain in Florida.  People’s lives are significantly affected by the end of the shuttle program. The Orlando Sentinel, (www.Orlandosentinel.com), estimated that approximately 9,000  people who worked with the space shuttle will be losing their jobs. Combined with the grief of the loss of the shuttle program, and faced with a new career move, the stress and sadness could be overwhelming. Not only the employees are affected, but the surrounding communities will lose income and may be forced to close. People in the state of Florida, and beyond, are sad this program is over. Many of us who live in Florida may have taken for granted seeing the shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Center and deeply regret never going to see one live.

The following is a list of symptoms people typically experience when faced with significant loss or intense stress. This list is not exhaustive, and if your symptom is distressing and is not listed, please seek additional suggestions:

  • sadness
  • irritability or anger
  • easily distracted or unable to concentrate
  • insomnia
  • isolating
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • suicidal thoughts

If you or a loved one is currently experiencing one or more of those symptoms, here are some tips to cope:

  • Acknowledge how you feel; ignoring or stuffing emotions may make you feel worse
  • Talk about how you feel with trusted relative or friend
  • Take extra good care of yourself, i.e. three nutritious meals per day, set aside time for sleep, exercise
  • Do your best to focus on the positive
  • Make an effort to incorporate humor into your life
  • Seek professional counsel for suicidal thoughts

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, even passive ones, please seek assistance from a professional. You may turn to your primary care physician, a Mental Health Counselor, psychiatrist, or support group. You can find providers on your insurance panel by calling your insurance company. If you do no have insurance and cannot afford professional services, there are many resources available to you through charitable organizations. If you need help with additional resources, please do not hesitate to phone a professional counselor or social worker for potential referrals.

For more information about the future of our country’s space program, there’s the Kennedy Space Center and NASA. If you can’t visit The Kennedy Space Center, http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/, you may want to check out the NASA website, www.NASA.gov and read “What’s Next for NASA?” While we are sad about the ending of the Space Shuttle Era, there are exciting plans already made and being made to continue our exploration of space.

About the Author:

Laura Peddie-Bravo, LMHC, NCC is a licensed and nationally certified counselor. Laura grew up in Orlando, FL, and works with children, adolescents and adults for a variety of mental health issues including grief, anxiety and depression. Laura operates from an overall Wellness perspective, and practices an eclectic style of counseling with a focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (CBT). Laura believes positive change is possible in all who seek it, and she enjoys the privilege to work with all who walk through her door.

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