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Grief Support

Understanding Grief

At the time of death, our thoughts and feelings may overwhelm us. The first step toward regaining a sense of control is understanding the process called grief. Grief is a physical, social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual reaction to loss. It is natural, normal, and necessary.

  • When you are grieving, you may feel tired, unable to sleep, or want to sleep most of the time.
  • Grief can alter your appetite. You may feel hungry or you may not want to eat at all.
  • Grief may cause anxiety. You may feel as though your heart is racing and you can't "catch your breath". You might feel worried and excited at the same time.
  • You may not feel like doing anything or you might feel empty and hollow inside. It might be hard to concentrate or to remember things.
  • Grief can make you feel helpless, angry, and frightened.
  • Everyone grieves differently. Our personality, experiences, religious beliefs, the circumstances of the death, and our relationship with the person who died, influence our grief reactions. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

If someone dies after a long illness, there may be a momentary sense of relief that pain is over, but then reality hits. If a death is sudden and unexpected, shock and a feeling of being numb can occur. If a young person dies there is a sense that things are our of order, and you may feel cheated that life is not the way it is supposed to be.

What Can You Do?

ACKNOWLEDGE AND EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS

Sadness, anger, fear, and guilt are common emotions in grief. Do not be afraid of intensity of your emotions. Mood swings are normal and it is possible to experience several different emotions at the same time. There may be times when you feel nothing at all or are consumed by rage. Grief can be confusing as well as painful. Guilt can be one of the hardest emotions to deal with and may last a very long time. Self blame and doubt add to the pain of grief and may make it difficult to share with others. Talking about your feelings or keeping a journal often helps you gain perspective and insight.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Have compassion and caring for yourself. Be sure to eat properly, get enough rest and exercise. Grief causes tremendous stress on your body and it can break down even the strongest immune system. You may find yourself catching more colds, experiencing headaches or muscle aches. So taking care of yourself, even when you don't feel like it, is more important than ever.

BE PATIENT

Grieving takes time. Although many hope you are "over it" within a few weeks, it will take far longer than anyone expects. You don't ever get "over it" but you can get through it. This loss is now part of your life, but it will not always feel the way it does now. Listen to yourself and go at your own pace.

Don't be surprised when grief shows up again and again. Just when you think you might be "over it", you may find yourself crying in the grocery store or while you are waiting in line. Anger can strike anywhere and so can guilt. Forgive yourself for living when your loved one did not.

FIND YOURSELF

Grief has changed your life completely. You cannot go back to being who you were, but you can learn to live with who you are now. Most bereaved experience a change of perspective and discover their priorities have changed. Now is the time to take a personal inventory and reassess your beliefs and values. Find what is important to you and go for it. You will discover new strengths and talents that you did not know you had.

CREATE NEW ROUTINES AND RITUALS

Because everything in your life has changed, it is important to develop new routines and patterns to reflect a new you. Acknowledge the empty chair and move it. Rearrange your furniture and create a space just for you. Try exercising at a certain time each day. Make a journal entry every day. These daily patterns will help you develop your new identity.

Find a way to remember your loved one's LIFE every day. You do not have to say good-bye, but it is important to acknowledge the change in your relationship. While you may not cook a special meal for your loved one, you can still share a conversation in your heart. Leave the scrapbook or photo album out on the coffee table so others can remember as well. Share stories and memories frequently. Your loved one died, but you did not lose the love you shared. We do not stop loving someone just because they died.

REACH OUT

Through information we gain a sense of control. Books, brochures, videos, and people can help you learn about grief and what to expect, from yourself and those around you. Know where to turn for help and reach out to others. Find people you can trust and who will listen when you want to talk.

You may also look to others who are grieving. You may choose to join a support group. Many groups are listed by subject in the phone directory. The names and numbers of many local groups are available through churches, newspapers, hospitals, local health and social service agencies, the Chamber of Commerce or your Funeral Director. You can learn and grow in your common, yet different experiences because grief shared is grief diminished.

We offer bereavement services for the families we serve. In addition, we have provided some helpful grief support links below: 


Crisis, Grief and Healing 

Webhealing.com, the first interactive grief website on the internet, offers discussion boards, articles, book suggestions, and advice for men and women working through every aspect of grief. The site’s founder, Tom Golden LCSW, has provided book excerpts and contact information to help those healing from loss.


GriefNet

With nearly 50 internet support groups plus a wide range of online resources, GriefNet provides support for those dealing with all types of loss. Their companion site, kidsaid.com, helps children and their parents deal with grief and loss in an appropriate and safe environment.


Willowgreen   

Willowgreen offers support and information for those dealing with life transition & aging, illness & caregiving, loss & grief, and hope & spirituality.  The site offers advice, products, and inspirational materials.


Grief and Loss   

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website contains a Grief & Loss section with grief-related articles and information.


Growth House  

Growth House is an award-winning website that offers international resources for life-threatening illnesses and end of life care. The site features hypertext topic pages that explain major issues across the spectrum of hospice and home care, palliative care, pain management, grief, death with dignity, and quality improvement. It also offers disease-specific guides, an online bookstore, and even their own radio station.


National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization   

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s website provides a host of information and resources for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury and their caregivers.


In this section

Frequent Questions

Grief Support

Social Security Benefits

Links

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