Grief is a natural healthy response to a loss. While there are common elements of grief, each individual grieves at their own pace in their own way. You may be unsure of what to do or say, or even how to feel. Each person experiences grief differently, even if you and another person are grieving for the same person or relationship. Although there are many matters to attend to after a loss, some of which must follow particular guidelines, there is no set timetable or order of feelings to grief. No one person can dictate to another how they should grieve. Grief is an ongoing and dynamic process, unique to the individual.
“My grief is a heavy burden, but it is a burden that serves as proof of a loving relationship. I will remember, as I long for my loved one and experience the many other emotions that make up my grief, that it represents something very important in my life. It attests to my ability to care for and love another.” – Carol Staudacher
Grief can be painful. Common feelings include sadness, anger, loneliness, anxiety, numbness or being overwhelmed. Grief can be physically exhausting and may produce sleeplessness, loss of appetite, headaches, stomach aches and other symptoms. If the death was sudden or traumatic, the breadth and intensity of feelings may be even greater, and feelings such as fear, anxiety and guilt may be amplified. Cognitive processing may be difficult. Grievers often have difficulties remembering details, concentrating or making decisions. Social engagements may seem awkward and challenging. Recognize that it can be a normal part of the grieving process to question your faith or belief system.
It is important to be gentle with yourself as you grieve, taking time to reflect and doing what you can to take care of yourself. As much as you are able, let others know what you need. Your support system wants to help. Simple things like getting enough rest and eating nutritiously can make a big difference. Some people find writing in a journal a helpful way to reflect on their feelings. Others are helped by talking about their feelings with a friend, family member or professional.
Although it may feel like grief will last forever, we do, in time, come to terms with the death of our loved one and move forward into a new life. We find tools to manage our grief and resources to bring us strength and healing.
Chesapeake Life Center’s team of uniquely trained professionals and volunteers offer compassionate care and support. Our goal is to provide a safe, healing place to share your story, to learn how to cope with your grief, and to honor and remember your loved one.