GRIEF SUPPORT | HELPING YOURSELF HEAL
Nothing can fully prepare you for the emotions you may feel after a loved one dies. You might feel confusion, longing, anxiety, anger, sorrow, and even physical pain. Helping yourself heal is a critical part of your journey.
Learning to live without your loved one takes time. That’s why All Care offers grief support for 13 months after the loss of a loved one in hospice care. Even if you don’t want to use our program right away, you can contact us at any time during the 13-month period. All Care’s bereavement counselor is available to you and other family members by calling 781-244-1198 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helping Yourself Heal When Someone Dies
by Center for Loss | by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Someone you love has died. You are now faced with the difficult, but important, need to mourn in order to heal. You are beginning a journey that is often frightening, painful, overwhelming, and sometimes lonely. The following information provides practical suggestions to help you move toward healing.
Realize your grief is unique
Your grief is unique. No one will grieve in exactly the same way. Your experience will be influenced by a variety of factors: the relationship you had with the person who died; the circumstances surrounding the death; your emotional support system; and your cultural and religious background. As a result of these factors, you will grieve in your own special way. Don’t try to compare your experience with that of other people or adopt assumptions about just how long your grief should last.
Talk about your grief
Express your grief openly. By sharing your grief outside yourself, healing occurs. Ignoring your grief won’t make it go away; talking about it often makes you feel better. Allow yourself to speak from your heart, not just your head. Doing so doesn’t mean you are losing control, or going “crazy.” It is a normal part of your grief journey.
Expect to feel a multitude of emotions
Experiencing loss affects your head, heart, and spirit. You will experience a variety of emotions as part of your grief work. Confusion, disorganization, fear, guilt, relief, or explosive emotions are just a few of the things 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. And 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.
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 level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. Lighten your schedule as much as possible. Caring for yourself doesn’t mean feeling sorry for yourself; it means you are using 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 action you can do at 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.
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 at God because of the death of someone you loved, realize this feeling as a normal part of your grief work. Find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.
Treasure your memories
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after someone loved 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 loved dies. You cannot heal unless you openly express your grief. Denying your grief will only make it become more confusing and overwhelming. Embrace your grief and help yourself heal. Be patient and tolerant with yourself. Never forget that the death of someone loved 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.
The experience of grief is powerful. So, too, is your ability to help yourself heal. In doing the work of grieving, you are moving toward a renewed sense of meaning and purpose in your life.
Link to article from Center for Loss