Understanding Grief

Each person’s grief is individual. You and your family will experience it and cope with it in your own ways.

Physical reactions to the death of a loved one may include loss of appetite or over-eating, sleeplessness and sexual difficulties. The bereaved may find that he/she has very little energy and cannot concentrate. A balanced diet, rest and moderate exercise are especially important for you at this time. Avoid the use of alcohol and unprescribed drugs. Medication should be taken only under the supervision of your physician.

Friends and relatives may not know how to respond to a person who is grieving. They want to ease your pain, but do not know how. They need your guidance. Some prefer to keep their grief private and others prefer to share with friends and neighbors. It may change from day to day. Take the initiative if you can and let them know how they can be supportive to you. Talk about your loved one so they will be free to do the same. If you do not feel comfortable taking, thank them for their concern and tell them you can’t talk now.

Consider putting off major decisions (changing residences, 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 to rush you. You can do it as you feel ready.

The bereaved may feel he/she has nothing to live for and may think about a release from this 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. Contact your physician or go to a hospital emergency room if you are feeling hopeless or no longer want to live.

Feelings of guilt are often a normal part of grief. Guilt 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.

Allow yourself to tell your story. Find support from those you trust. Allow others to comfort you. Find a support group. There is nothing weak about needing and asking for help from others.

Be gentle with yourself.

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