Thoughts For The Grieving

You have recently experienced the death of a loved one. This period of grief will drain you at times. It is hard work to grieve, but it is necessary. Grieving is the coping mechanism that helps you come to acceptance of the loss.

Grief is a painful and sometimes devastating experience. Raw pain, tears, sadness, immobility, hopelessness sometimes crowd in on you. Some days you wonder whether you can make it. As you work through the many feelings, healing begins. You will make it! Give yourself time for the tears and sadness and hang on to your hope and sense of humor.

Grief is very personal, but it also something to be shared. Find someone with whom to share your feelings. Do not compare yourself to others. Do not expect too much, but generally you can know:

1. Things will get better in time, but your timetable is your own. You be the judge of when too much time has elapsed without some change for the good in your feelings and outlook.

2. You will have good and bad times for a while.

3. Help is available at any step along the way. Ask for the help you need. Some of the things you can expect are:

  • Shock: The first reaction to death. Numbness, the knot in the stomach, loss of appetite may be apart of your shock. If the dead person had a lingering illness, the shock may havey come earlier. 
  • Tears, sadness, mourning days: Family and friends will help you through this. Funerals, memorial services, family gatherings – remembering helps you face the reality.
  • Denial: Comes along with or immediately following shock. It is characterized by feeling that the dead person is not truly dead, but will return. Denial may continue off and on for a long time, but the reality of death will also be there. Do not be rushed into clearing out the person’s belongings if you are not ready. Do what feels right for you.
  • Anger: A normal response to death. It may be mild or strong, depending on your personality and circumstances. You may be angry at family members, physicians, God, or the one who died. Express your anger, but do it appropriately. Scream in a private place, punch a punching bag, talk it out loud to yourself. Talk with someone else about your anger, especially if it seems severe to you.
  • Guilt: Most people go through it – the “what ifs,” “if onlys,” and “why didn’t I’s.”
  • Depression: Characterized by lethargy, emptiness, immobility. A letdown may come which leaves you feeling temporarily helpless. Give your body attention – sound nutrition, rest, exercise. Stay close to someone who understands and will listen to you. Get involved in something, but do not be pushed into frantic activity.
  • Acceptance: Change will come. Allow your grief to work. In time, you will move from feelings of being fragmented to feelings of wholeness. You will recognize the easing of pain, the return to joy in life and in being alive.

Grief is a healthy rite of passage. Call on family and friends. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk with a neutral person, to reminisce, to cry, to vent your feelings. Seek professional help if you have no support system or if things are not improving for you in a reasonable time – your healthcare provider,
counselor, a support group or grief education program.

For more information, call 910-796-7900.