Grief, with its many ups and downs, lasts far longer than society in general recognizes. Be patient with yourself. Each person’s grief is individual. You and your family will experience it and cope with it differently.
Crying is an acceptable and healthy expression of grief, releasing built-up tension for the bereaved person. Cry freely as you feel the need.
Physical reactions to the death of a loved one may include loss of appetite or overeating, sleeplessness, and sexual difficulties. The bereaved my find that he/she has very little energy and can not concentrate. A balanced diet, rest, and moderate exercise are especially important for you at this time.
Avoid the use of drugs or alcohol. Medication should be take sparingly and only under the supervision of your physician. Many substances are addictive and can lead to a chemical dependency. In addition, they may stop or delay the necessary grieving process.
Friends and relatives may be uncomfortable around you. They want to ease your pain, but do not know how. Take the initiative and help them learn how to be supportive. Talk about your loved one so they know this is appropriate.
Whenever possible, put off major decisions (changing residence or changing jobs, etc.) for at least a year. Avoid making hasty decisions about your loved one’s belongings. Do not allow others to take over or rush you. You can do it little by little whenever you feel ready.
The bereaved may feel he or she has nothing to live for and may think about a release from the intense pain. Be assured that many bereaved persons feel this way, but that a sense of purpose and meaning does return. The pain does lessen in time.
Guilt – real or imagined – is a normal part of grief. It surfaces in thoughts and feelings of “if only”. In order to resolve this guilt, learn to express and share these feelings. And, learn to forgive yourself.
Anger is another common reaction to loss. Anger, like guilt needs expression and sharing in a healthy and acceptable manner.
Children are often the forgotten grievers within a family. They are experiencing many of the same emotions you are, so share thoughts and tears with them. Though it is a painful time, be sure they feel loved and included.
Holidays and anniversaries of your loved one’s birth and death can be stressful times. Consider the feelings of the entire family in planning how to spend the day. Allow time and space for your emotional needs.
A loved one’s death often causes the bereaved to challenge and examine his or her faith or philosophy of life. Do not be disturbed if you are questioning old beliefs. Talk about it. For many, faith offers help to accept the unacceptable.
It helps to become involved with a group of persons having similar experiences. Sharing eases the loneliness and promotes the expression of your grief in an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding.
The bereaved and their families can find healing and hope for the future as they organize their lives in a positive way. In a time of sorrow, it can be consoling to reflect on how our lives have been enriched by the love we have given and the love we have received. Those we have cared about leave treasures behind that time can never take away.
Like flowers experiencing the seasonal changes of nature, “we are richer for having seen them, touched them, and enjoyed their fragrance”. How much more rewarding then is the life of a loved one who leaves a heritage of loving memories with us that can never die.
Addiontional grief resources can be found at:
Compassionate Friends - www.compassionatefriends.org
Grief Share - www.griefshare.org
Grief Net - www.griefnet.org
Beyond Indigo - www.death-dying.com
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