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Technology in a Time of Grief
Tools for Handling the Toughest Stuff

In the March 2013 issue of School Nutrition, author Susan Davis Gryder took a look at just some of the technological tools that can provide valuable assistance in your pursuit of weight loss, physical activity, mindful eating and more. But these tools can assist you in charting a course toward your personal wellness in plenty of other areas, as well. Take a look at some of these additional technological options.

There is a long tradition of support groups for people going through grief and loss. Through a wealth of online resources, people can now access that support no matter what’s available locally or where they may travel. In addition to more traditional directories of local, in-person resources, people who are struggling with grief can find cyber support. Some are faith-based, some serve people struggling with a particular type of loss, others are more general.

Grieving.com is an online community that offers a variety of discussion forums, including those for coping with losses from violent death or suicide; groups for grieving teens or struggling with a loved one’s terminal illness and caregiving; or managing holidays, anger and legal issues. Separate forums for different faith traditional also are available.

Griefnet.org offers a twist to the conventional online forum: e-mail support groups, which function more like listserves. A member sends an e-mail and receives responses from other members. Griefnet has distribution lists specifically for kids and teens (which require parental permission to join), widows/widowers, LGBT and other loss and grief niches. Griefnet suggests an optional monthly membership fee of $10 for administrative management, but participation is not contingent upon payment.

If you are helping a child deal with grief, a good place to start is Kidsaid.com. In addition to providing e-mail support groups specifically for youth, Kidsaid provides children with a place to post personal stories and artwork created in response to their loss. Hospicefoundation.org is another site that offers resources for people dealing with grief, including assistance in finding area support groups.

This Tech Will Not Self-Destruct
Tools for Addressing Anger and Addiction
Strategies for anger management involve redirecting the way you relate and react to different situations. Since anger triggers are highly individual and can happen anywhere, it makes sense to use portable technology like smartphones as a resource for anger management tools.

For example, the Anger Management App from Personal Power Path for iPhone and iPod Touch features videos, a virtual journal, motivational messages and the ability to participate in a community for advice and support. But you also can find apps specifically designed for kids, people with developmental disabilities (like autism) and special approaches, such as anger management through hypnosis. There are even “anger thermometer” apps that allow you to represent your feelings on a color-coded thermometer and monitor your current emotional state. If you reach yellow or red, the app will cue calming strategies to help get you back to green.

You also can find a wealth of anger management information online that is targeted to both kids and adults. For those who are charged by work, the court or another authority to complete anger management courses, angermangementonline.com is one of many online sources of classes for adults and teenagers. The program meets certain requirements, including participation logs, journals, program completion goals and tests. Upon completion, users can receive a signed affidavit that can be notarized.

The Internet is a good source to find groups like fight4kids.com that support parents with issues like anger management in conjunction with parenting help. Support for other parenting-related issues, like post-partum depression, is also available. And think that video games only contribute to violence? Think again. A new game called Rage Control helps children learn to control anger by awarding points when they use the brain’s executive control centers to control angry responses. In fact, a study by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital showed that kids who played the game had more success keeping their heart rates down and achieving lower scores on an anger intensity scale.

Addictive behavior is another challenge that can be successfully addressed with strategies that include group support. In this age of technology, such support has migrated online and onto smartphones. For example, iPromises offers users a “virtual recovery companion,” which builds on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) approach and provides users with a visual journal, trigger alerts, a directory of AA meetings in the United States and Canada and a way to connect quickly with sponsors. Users also can add personal friends to build a virtual support community. One Recovery on the Go is an Android app that offers similar services for multiple 12 Step groups, including Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and Al-Anon. MyRecovery.com is a website that offers many of these same features, along with social networking supports like live video chats, discussion forums and the ability to create private discussion groups.