Dealing with Grief

All of us must face the reality of death at some point in our lives–the reality of being separated from a cherished loved one. It is uncomfortable for many people to think about death and contemplate its eventuality.  Yet only then can we come to fully understand the value and meaning of our own lives and of those around us.  Only then can we begin to live our lives to the fullest.

Stages of Grief

Every death changes the lives of those close to the deceased person.  The ability to change and adapt to changes around you is the key to accepting and dealing with death.  As in the other aspects of our loves, the more we resist and fight against inevitable changes, the more pain we experience and the more unhappy we become.

In experiencing grief we may go through a full range of sometimes contradictory emotions such as denial, anger, sorrow, guilt and relief.  We may fluctuate from feeling stable to being deeply depressed.  Ultimately, we must arrive at acceptance, the last stage of the process.  We know we have achieved this stage when we can see the life of our loved one as a fond memory instead of dwelling on the person’s death as a harsh reality.  Only then can we go on living our own lives again. According to research, there are generally 10 stages in the grieving process:

Shock and Surprise

News of someone’s death is almsot always a shock. The reality of death may occur in a few minutes or a few days.

Emotional Release

The release of tension and feelings is necessary and usually occurs at the funeral or with family and friends, but is only the beginning of the grieving process.

Loneliness

After the funeral, when family and friends have gone home, feelings of emptiness may occur. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression begin.

Physical Distress and Anxiety

This stage can make the person feel so alone that he or she may develop the same physical symptoms that the deceased had.

Panic

It may become difficult to concentrate on anything because of constant memories of the deceased. In fact, this may cause a person to worry about his or her own stability. Not knowing what to do or what is happening can result in panic and weakened self-esteem.

Guilt

The surviving persons dwells on the things he or she could have done for the deceased. They may also feel responsible for the person’s death.

Hostility and Projection

This is a difficult stage for relatives and friends because the survivor suddenly becomes hostile to those whom he or she thinks could have prevented the death. Family and friends should try to be tolerant and non-defensive.

Lassitude

The person suffers in silence, weary from the depression and frustration. Becoming more active is the answer.

Gradual Overcoming of Grief

Through the affection and encouragement of friends and family, gradually a new meaning of life unfolds. The person’s outlook becomes brighter and more realistic.

Readjustment to Reality

Recalling the deceased becomes a pleasant experience and planning the future becomes more realistic.

Helping Others Grieve

What can you do to help your parent through his or her grief when a spouse dies or to help your child through the loss of a parent or grandparent? These are some of the major losses in life, but there are things you can do to help.

Losing a Loved One

How can one possibly absorb the shock of the death of a mate? No matter how many years you have shared, memories of courtship, lifelong plans, and your marriage are most difficult to bear. In addition, people who have children often feel that parenting is life’s most important role, regardless of the child’s age. Therefore, the death of a child can be a tremendous assault on a parent’s very identity. We are here to help you through either of these hard times.

Helping Children Understand Death

Caring parents can help a child during a time of loss by being open, honest, and loving, and by responding to his or her questions in a way that shows they care.

Coping During the Holidays

The holidays can be one of the most difficult times during the year to deal with the loss of a loved one. These are times when everyone comes together to celebrate and it can be hard to celebrate with an empty seat where that loved one used to be. There are some things that may help you to cope with loss at this time.