The following guides you through the many stages of grief to help you understand how healing eventually occurs when grieving the loss of a loved one. We ask that you read the following, not for preparation, rather to understand the grieving process and, if you are faced with the death of a loved one, how you will need to work through it to re-adjust to life.
It is a vital part of your recovery process to openly mourn the death of a loved one. You need to allow yourself time to mourn and grieve.
Grief is not a feeling of constant depression but is instead a combination of outbursts of anger, sadness, guilt, depression, denial, fear, panic and loneliness. These, although bewildering, are common and natural ways for you to find relief and release.
The stages of grief are generally identifiable, but many not be experienced in any particular order.
Indeed, some may come and go over time.
When you first learn that someone you love has died, your immediate reaction is one of shock. You are stunned and often disbelieving, especially if the death is sudden or unexpected. This is a natural reaction because you are not ready to accept their death.
Letting go of your emotions and expressing your feelings aids the healing process and is a big step in the right direction towards readjustment. It is normal for you to want to cry, shout, be angry, reminisce and share memories.
In releasing your emotions you can become depressed and experience overwhelming feelings of loneliness. You may even become disinterested in what is happening around you.
Remembering the past you shared with your loved one is another natural part of your grieving process. It is when all the good times you shared become a constant thought. Although it may seem to hurt more, it can bring you some relief to share your memories and feelings with others.
You may even blame yourself for their death. "If only I'd been there," or, "If only I hadn't let him go there" are thoughts that constantly cross your mind. Although these feelings are normal you shouldn't feel responsible for something that is out of your control.
It is normal for you to experience anger and aggression when working through the grieving process. It is important that you do not bottle up your anger, but rather talk to someone you can trust and feel comfortable with in discussing the death.
You may experience certain physical symptoms during the course of your grieving. Your body may ache with tension which could lead to sleeplessness, headaches, low-energy, poor appetite and so on. It is important for your health and well-being to take time to look after yourself. Make sure you eat properly, exercise regularly, try to get a normal night's sleep and visit your doctor for a check-up.
It takes time to work through the grieving process but eventually you will start to feel better and ready to get on with your life again. The length of time it takes to work through the grieving process varies from person to person.
We cannot tell you the right or wrong way to grieve but rather we can help you to understand certain feelings you may experience. Grieving is a highly personal process and one that must be worked through, step-by-step, with the help of family and friends.
If You Need Help
During your time of grief it is a good idea to seek professional help to assist you with coming to terms with your loss.
We can recommend professional counsellors and support groups in your local area who are there for this very reason.
Helping You Prepare For The Future
These are a few practical steps to help you re-adjust to life a little more quickly:
- Keep in contact with your family and friends by letter, phone, visits or inviting them around for tea or coffee.
- Plan your social events ahead of time so you have something to look forward to.
- Go and stay with friends or family who live some distance from you for a change of scenery.
- Go on a relaxing holiday.
- Join social clubs to meet new people.
- Keep a diary to help you understand your path through the grieving process.
Helping A Friend In Need
Some of us don’t know what to say or how to act when a friend is trying to cope with the death of a loved one.
Here are a few of our suggestions to help them through this difficult time.
How You Can Help
- Offer assistance with meals or daily chores even before the funeral.
- Attend the funeral. Just being there shows that you share the family’s grief and that you are there as a friend.
- After the funeral. That’s when an understanding friend can mean a great deal. That’s when they need to know that they are not alone in coping with their grief.
Be a good listener
Encourage them to express their feelings and emotions. Listen to them, try to understand their moods and let them say what they want to say. You are not there to judge.
You don’t have to rely on words
A squeeze of the hand, a touch on the shoulder, or an embrace is sometimes more comforting than words.
Don’t try to hide your own grief
Chances are you were also a friend of the deceased and that you too feel grief. Do not be afraid to show it. If you feel like crying, do. Your friend will certainly understand, and tears can be a way of sharing your experience.
Show that you haven’t forgotten
All too often when you ask bereaved friends if there is anything you can do, they will feel they are a burden, or are intruding, and will decline your help even when it would be welcome. So telephone, visit, drop by with food, take children on outings, or invite the family to your home. It is also important to continue this support in the weeks that follow.