Therapy That Works...

Gearing Advantage

Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Dana Reeves - Mar 8, 2006

Dana Reeves

March 8, 2006

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, CBS 11 News

Q: How does loss affect loved ones?

Dr. Sylvia: Dana Reeves endured a tremendous trauma. We do know that the younger the widow, the greater the health consequences and the greater the chance for premature death. One study found that a woman whose husband dies of a chronic illness faces 49% higher risk of premature death than other women her age whose husbands are still alive.

We do know that loss is often followed by depression and disease and is implicated in premature death. One study found that approximately 75% of patients developed their disease within one week of the loss of a loved one. One researcher found that around 20% of all people who die within a year of losing a spouse die as a direct result of the loss. Unfortunately, one of the most common precursors of cancer is a traumatic loss or a feeling of emptiness in one's life.

Q: How will the loss of his mother affect Will at 13?

Dr. Sylvia: Parental loss has been shown in a wide variety of studies to lead to later health problems. Delinquency, accidents and suicide are all more pronounced among children who lost a parent early in life. The risk of suicide is SEVEN times greater among children who have lost both parents than for those raised in an intact family.

Q: What can people do to help in this kind of loss?

Dr. Sylvia: A psychologist said that every death has at least two victims-and it is the surviving victim who hurts the most deeply. The surviving victim, the one who is left behind, is at significantly higher risk for a number of health problems. Of course, the most difficult moments will be reserved for those who were closest to Dana. Grief is a process and it will come in stages.

Her son, her sisters and father will mourn her for the rest of their lives. The best health protection against this kind of loss is to allow enough time to grieve. Keeping a stiff upper lip is actually more damaging for the body. We are all going to experience extreme grief in one form or another. Each year, an estimated 8 million Americans suffer the death of an immediate family member. There are almost a million new widows and widowers each year in this country.

Q: What should people do to grieve effectively?

Dr. Sylvia: First of all, talk about your loss. Surround yourself with supportive people. Social Support is the Best Medicine! The more people talk about the loss, the less they will ruminate about it. The more they think about the death, the more health problems they will have.

Q: How can we honor Dana and Christopher Reeves?

Dr. Sylvia: Most importantly, the greatest honor for people such as the Reeves is to incorporate their values into your own life. Her choices embodied several principles:

  • Optimism
  • Loyalty
  • Caregiver
  • Tireless Advocate for a Forgotten Cause
  • Tenacity and Grace in the Face of Repeated Challenges