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How To Treat Yourself During Grieving

How To Treat Yourself During Grieving

Understanding Grief

Sudden and unexpected shock! Whether it was a tragic accident or a sudden heart attack, you feel numb and wonder when this nightmare will be over. Or may be the end of a very long, lingering illness. You even anticipated death and now it is reality. Right now, you may be wrestling with several emotions-extreme sadness, loss, loneliness, guilt, anger and wondering how in the world you can keep going. You find that it is impacting every aspect of your life-emotionally, mentally and physically.


Grief does not "go away" in two weeks or even two months. It is a continuous process which affects the rest of your life. Allow yourself plenty of time to grieve. Every individual's amount of time varies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the death ond on the personal emotions experienced. There is no "normal" time span. Grief, in very general terms, can be divided into three intervals: Early Grief-lasting from a few hours to a few days. Acute Grief- lasting from a few months to a few years and Subsiding Greif-lasting indefinitely. You may have heard someone during the past few weeks tell you, "Time will heal ." Time alone does NOT heal; however what you do with your time can help.


Many theorists have defined "stages" of greif. However, this can be misleading because there is not a set order or pattern of what one may experience while grieving. Every person grieves in a different way. Any and all feelings that you may experience are normal, no matter when, or for how long you endure them.


This occurs when you initially find out about the death. The reality of what has happened is not yet registered. You may experience such things as shock and numbing, denial, or anger.


This is the most difficult of the intervals. A variety of emotions surface during this trying time. The reality of the loss is understood, but often accompanied by pangs of intense yearning, spasms of distress, tearful and/or uncontrolled sobbing, restlessness, insomnia, preoccupation with thoughts of the loved one, a constant sense of the presence of the loved one. Your may experience a decrease in you ability or desire to function day to day as before. At the depth of grief, you may experience depression. It takes effort and perseverance to get beyond this painful point.


This is when the ability to endure and recuperate from the painful Acute Grieving interval and accept the fact that you must 'get on with life'. You begin to: create new life patterns in the absence of the loved one; find reasons to go on living by reinvesting your interest and energy in new things; and adjust to a new style of life.


Subsiding Grief is not without its hills and valleys, however. Especially when "special days" come up during the year-birthdays, the anniversary of the death, holidays, etc.-the Acute Grief pain is easily reawakened. In face, you may feel as if you have "backtracked" in your grief journey. Be patient with yourself- give yourself permission to grieve. Think of grief in this way: the death of your loved one is a physical wound where grief is the healing of that wound. Just like a physcial wound heals, you will heal--from the inside out.



Be open and talk about your feelings. Your question may be, "But who can I talk to?" Counselors can be very helpful for some, others prefer grief support groups. Perhaps talking with your pastor may be more comfortable for you.

Friends and family members are people with whom you can share as well. It is important to keep in mind, though, that they may be experiencing their own grief. Also, please remember that seeking help from a professional counselor or minister is NOT a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it shows that you are taking care of yourself and acknowledging your need to grieve.


There is nothing wrong with your tears, This is especially important for men to remember. Tears are as natural as laughter and just as healing! Tears, whether shared with others or shed in private, can help release sadness, anger, guilt, exhaustion and loneliness. Keep in mind that it takes a great deal more energy to keep your feelings inside then to let them out.


It is very important that young chidren be involved with the family grieving. They should not and cannot be "spared" from knowledge abut the death. When we try to "protect" them from the truth by not allowing their involvement, we only intensify their feelings of loneliness, guilt and fears about the future. It is also vital that children see the adults in their grieve. This gives the child "permission" to grieve as well. No child is to young to grieve. All children are affected in some way by the death of a loved one and must go through their own grieving process.

Children often know when they are not being told the whole truth, or when their questions are being avoided. Loss of TRUST will compound grief. Try your best to answer ALL of the child's questions as directly and as honestly as you can, even if the answer is "I don't know." This expresses your respect towards the child and the feelings he or she is experiencing. Keep in mind that sometimes the answers they will come up with on their own are much more frightening than the truth!

Other losses often accompany the identified loss. A change in residence, caretaker, school or peer group, adds to the loss. Maintain a daily rountine if all possible. Continuity provides children with a sense of security and stability.

Continue to be available long after you think they "should be over it." Children and young people will continue to deal with the losses/changes they experience as they grow through their grief and discover that LOVE NEVER GOES AWAY.


Don't be discouraged. You may feel that you will never survive your inner pain. You WILL survive, although there may be times that you won't care whether you go on or not. Nothing you can do can bring your loved one back. YOU MUST KEEP GOING-your family and friends need you and there may be others you have not even met yet who need you to help them through their difficulties as well.

Please feel free to call Hamilton's Academy of Grief And Loss for further information, resourses or help: 515-243-5221

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