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 Coping With Grief


Grief and Depression share many symptoms. Grief, as opposed to depression, tends to wax and wane. Anti-depressants are not generally effective in relieving the effects of grieving. 1 in 5 bereaved will develop depression. When in doubt, seek the advice of a professional. (144) 


1. Find Support.

Sharing sorrow and grief can help reduce its burden. Accept help when it's offered and ask for help when necessary. Examples: friends, family, support group (email support groups), church, therapist.  

Spend time with people who comfort, sustain and recharge you. Avoid those people who give you stress.


2. Take Care of Yourself.

Physical reactions of grief can include a change in appetite and/or sleep disturbances. These can lead to an exacerbation of other physical symptoms, including allergies, blood pressure, digestive issues, headaches and diabetes (154). Maintain a healthy diet and engage in physical activity to reduce stress. Get enough sleep. Avoid excessive use of alcohol and other substances. Try to maintain a normal schedule.

Denial or suppression of grief-related feelings can be counter-productive. Express them through whatever means is most effective and comforting: journaling, a scrapbook, conversation, other creative pursuits.


3. Own Your Experience.

Your grief is your own. Don't allow anyone to tell you how to feel, think or behave. Protect your right to your own grieving process.


4. Plan Ahead for Grief "Triggers".

Anniversaries or other holidays can renew feelings related to the original trauma. The necessity of another surgery, no matter how minor, may cause feelings of panic or depression. Visiting a loved one in the hospital, especially the site of the donation, can provoke negative associations.

Plan a distraction, if possible. Visit a museum, see a movie, or schedule a visit with friends or family (145)


5. Postpone Major Life Changes

Give yourself time to adjust to the loss. Postpone moving, changing jobs, a change in relationship status, having a child, etc.


Have Patience; Forgive Yourself.

Don't expect too much of yourself, or judge yourself for your reactions or behaviors. The outbursts, numbness or inappropriate sentiments are all part of the grief process and to be expected. (146)


Living With Grief and Loss

Helping someone who is grieving (see page 8)


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Last Updated: March 8, 2013.