Understanding Grief: Beginning to HealIf you are experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one, it often helps to recognize that what you are going through is a normal reaction. Click here to view some of the common reactions to grief and see if you recognize some of them in your own experience.
First Things First: Eat and Sleep
At the most basic level, your survival depends on eating and sleeping. Starting now, make this your top priority. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, return to these basics. Only when you are rested and nourished can you consider taking on additional tasks. If sleep and appetite difficulties persist, seek medical treatment or consider speaking with a counselor.
As You Progress
As you progress, you can expect the intensity of your emotional response to diminish, and to experience periods of wellbeing. In the beginning, periods of wellbeing are very brief and typically last for a few minutes. You may find yourself able to enjoy the presence of another person, a favorite food or an enjoyable activity. You may find yourself interested in what someone has to say. You may smile or laugh. Over time, these episodes will last longer and occur more frequently.
Later you can expect to experience prolonged periods of wellbeing, to resume social activities, and to explore new activities and interests. Your loss does not go away, but it does not occupy 100 percent of your attention. When thoughts and feelings of loss arise, you will be better able to cope with them.
How to Help Someone Who is Grieving
We often receive requests from people asking what to say or how to help a person who is grieving. The simple answer is, feed, nurture and comfort them:
Avoid comments that minimize the pain of loss and resist the urge to give advice. Statements like “It’s God’s will” “He (or she) is in a better place,” “Time heals all wounds” or “It’s time to move on” can be hurtful. Instead, nurture comfort and support the bereaved person. Speak gentle words. Affirm your love and support.
The greatest asset a bereaved person can have is an informed, caring and consistent support network that can provide assistance until the bereaved is able to manage day-to-day activities on their own. A bereaved person is doing very well when they are able to sleep, eat and perform basic, everyday tasks. They will continue to experience periods of tears and sadness, and this should be expected. Maintaining contact with a bereaved person for an extended period of time is a precious gift.
Coping with the death of a loved one is one of life’s most difficult challenges. Knowledge of the body’s normal, natural grief response is essential at this time. Equally important is to be gentle and kind to yourself. Please go easy on yourself and know we at Treasure Coast Hospice Counseling Services are here to help. For more about our bereavement counseling, click here.