Expect To Feel A Multitude Of Emotions
Experiencing a loss affects your head, heart and spirit. So you may experience a variety of emotions as part of your grief.
Confusion, disorganization, fear, guilt, relief, or explosive emotions are just a few of the emotions you may feel. Sometimes these emotions will follow each other within a short period of time, or they may occur simultaneously.
As strange as some of these emotions may seem, they are normal and healthy. Allow yourself to learn from these feelings. Don’t be surprised if out of nowhere you suddenly experience surges of grief, even at the most unexpected times.
These grief attacks can be frightening and leave you feeling overwhelmed. They are, however, a natural response to the death of someone loved. Find someone who understands your feelings and will allow you to talk about them.
Allow For Numbness
Feeling dazed or numb when someone loved dies is often part of your early grief experience. This numbness serves a valuable purpose: it gives your emotions time to catch up with what your mind has told you. This feeling helps create insulation from the reality of the death until you are more able to tolerate what you don’t want to believe.
Be Tolerant Of Your Physical And Emotional Limits
Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you fatigued. Your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired and your low energy levels may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body is telling you. Nurture yourself. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. Lighten your schedule as much as you can. Caring for yourself doesn’t mean feeling sorry for yourself; it means using your survival skills.
Develop A Support System
Reaching out to others and accepting support is often difficult, particularly when you hurt so much. But the most compassionate self-action you can do during this difficult time is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need. Find those people who encourage you to be yourself and acknowledge your feelings – both happy and sad.
Make Use Of Ritual
The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide the support of caring people.
Most importantly, the funeral is a way to express your grief outside yourself. If you eliminate this ritual, you often set yourself up to repress your feelings, cheat everyone who cares a chance to pay tribute to someone who was and always will be, loved.
Embrace Your Spirituality
If faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs.
If you are angry with God because of the death of someone you loved, recognize this feeling as a normal part of your grieving process. Find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of whatever thoughts and feelings you need to explore.
You may hear someone say, “With faith, you don’t need to grieve“. Don’t believe it. Having your personal faith does not insulate you from needing to talk out and explore your thoughts and feelings. To deny your grief is to invite problems that build up inside you. Express your faith, but express your grief as well.
Allow A Search For Meaning
You may find yourself asking, “Why did he die?” “Why this way?” “Why now?” This search for meaning is another normal part of the healing process. Some questions have answers, some do not. Actually, the healing occurs in the opportunity to pose the questions, not necessarily in answering them. Find a supportive friend who will listen responsively as you search for meaning.
Treasure Your Memories
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after someone dies. Treasure them. Share them with your family and friends. Recognize that your memories may make you laugh or cry. In either case, they are a lasting part of the relationship that you had with a very special person in your life.
Move Toward Your Grief And Heal
The capacity to love requires the necessity to grieve when someone you love dies. You can’t heal unless you openly express your grief. Denying your grief will only make it become more confusing and overwhelming. Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember that grief is a process, not an event.
Be patient and tolerant with yourself. Never forget that the death of a loved one changes your life forever. It’s not that you won’t be happy again, it’s simply that you will never be exactly the same as you were before the death.
Accepting A Loss
For each of us – rich or poor, young or old – there are times in our lives when we must face and deal with personal losses along with the pain and sorrow they cause. Examples that come easily to mind are the death of a parent, spouse, child, or other close family member or friend. Many other events and transitions also bring with them sadness and a need to grieve:
- Being told you have a serious, possibly terminal illness.
- Having to give up interests and activities that have been a major part of your life.
- Seeing serious decline in the mental or physical health of someone you love.
- Retiring from a career or voluntary activity that has helped shape who you are and what you stand for.
- Losing a significant part of your independence and mobility; even giving up driving can be a significant loss for many people.
- Moving out of your home.
- Saying goodbye to a favorite pet.
Losses such as these are simply part of life. Like their counterparts among the joyful occasions in our lifetime – the birth of a child or grandchild, a celebration of marriage, an enduring friendship – they are part of what it means to share in the human experience. The emotions they create in us are part of living, as well.