Grief, Mourning & Healing
"GRIEF is reaching out for someone who's always been there, only to find when you need them the most, one last time, they're gone."
The death of a loved one is life's most painful event. People's reactions to death remain one of society's least understood and most off-limits topics for discussion. Oftentimes, grievers are left totally alone in dealing with their pain, loneliness, and isolation.
Grief is a natural emotion that follows death. It hurts. Sadness, denial, guilt, physical discomfort, and sleeplessness are some of the symptoms of grief. It is like an open wound which must be healed. At times, it seems as if this healing will never happen. While some of life's spontaneity begins to return, it never seems to get back to the way it was. It is still incomplete. We know, however, that these feelings of being incomplete can disappear.
Healing during bereavement follows a process of allowing ourselves to feel, experience, and accept the pain. In other words, we give ourselves permission to heal. Allowing ourselves to accept these feelings is the beginning of the grief process.
The healing process can take much less time than we have been led to believe. There are two missing parts. One is a safe, loving, professionally guided atmosphere in which to express our feelings; the other is knowing how and what to communicate.
The Grief Process
When we experience a major loss, grief is the normal and natural reaction. Everyone grieves differently, but there are common patterns people tend to share.
For example, someone mourning usually moves through a series of emotional stages, such as shock, numbness, guilt, anger and denial. Also there are typical physical responses such as sleeplessness, inability to eat or concentrate, lack of energy, and lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Time always plays an important role in the grief process. As the days, weeks and months go by, the person who is experiencing loss moves through emotional and physical reactions that normally lead toward acceptance, healing and getting on with life as fully as possible. Sometimes a person can become overwhelmed or bogged down in the grieving process. Serious losses are never easy to deal with, but someone who is having trouble beginning to actively re-engage in life after a few months should consider getting professional help. For example, if continual depression or physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or chronic lack of energy persists, it is probably time to see a doctor.
See the links below for additional information on grieving.
Helping Yourself Heal
At its heart, grieving well begins with allowing yourself to mourn. But there are other important realizations, behaviors and expectations you should recognize and understand. We invite you to learn more about the many things you can do to help yourself heal after loss.
Accepting a Loss
The experience of loss is an inevitable part of our lives, and each provokes grief. Accepting a loss, a goal in healthy grieving, essentially involves the awareness of this inescapable truth. Read this to learn more about loss and the importance of acceptance.
When Your Parent Dies
The emotional response to the passing of a parent can be surprisingly complex. To help in grieving what is, for many people, a major loss; we offer insights gleaned from our personal and professional experience as well as specific bereavement guidelines you may follow.
How much should you tell a child about the passing of a family member? How should you explain death, and how involved should children be in the planning of a loved one's funeral? Get insights and answers from our experts in our Children's Corner.