Good Grief — The Path to Healing from a Loss

Understanding the grieving process

Grief is a natural reaction to the loss we experience when someone we care about dies. As painful and difficult as it is, the grieving process is an important step in healing after a loss. There are no quick fixes but there are things you can do to help make coping easier.

1)    Don’t rush yourself: Working through grief takes time. While you may be anxious for things to return to normal, you should give yourself time to mourn.

2)    Stay connected: Spend time with friends and family. Being around who care about you and that you care about can help. Resist the urge to isolate yourself.

3)    Take care of yourself: Eat properly and get enough sleep. Exercise can help you stay strong and put you in a better position to deal with the sadness you are feeling.

4)    Do what you enjoy: If you have a hobby or activity that gives you pleasure, by all means, take part in it. Doing the things we enjoy can provide a welcome relief.

5)    Get help if you feel you need it: Sadness is perfectly normal, but if you feel you cannot attend to your normal activities or you are worried that you are not coping well, reach out. Talk with friends or family members, consult with your doctor or call a hotline.

The role of the funeral or memorial service in helping us cope with grief

Funerals have long been a staple ceremony in most cultures. There are many reasons for this. One of the most important reasons is that funerals, or ceremonies to memorialize someone who has died, give the living a chance to face the reality loss. Funerals help us say goodbye and gather together with others who are experiencing similar feelings. Many experts believe that the simple act of sharing our grief helps to lessen its intensity.

The Grieving Process

The Five Stages of Grief is a widely accepted model for how we deal with the process of grieving. Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed the theory while working with terminally ill patients. She introduced her model in the 1969 book,”On Death and Dying. The Five Stages of Grief” has helped many people understand their feelings after the loss of someone close to them. Of course, everyone experiences grief differently so you may not feel each of the stages in a “text book” way. The important thing to recognize is that the feelings you have are normal. To learn more about the Five Stages of Grief click here

Knowing that there is no magic formula to make your grief go away may not make you feel much better. But there are a few things to keep in mind that may help.

5 Important things to remember about grief

Everyone grieves differently: Despite what others may say, they probably don’t know exactly how you feel. The grieving process is different for everyone. What you are feeling is very likely unique to you. So give yourself a break and don’t feel that you should be feeling a certain way.

There is no time table for grief: How quickly you start to feel like your old self will depend on many factors. Some people bounce quickly while others need more time. There is no need to give yourself a timetable. If you feel uncomfortable with how long it is taking you to recover, consider seeking help. Support groups and professional grief counselors are available to help you understand what you are feeling.

Grief is natural: There is nothing strange or unnatural about the grieving process. We all experience it at some time.

You are not alone: Spending time with others who are affected by the loss may offer you some comfort. Seek out friends and family who will understand what you are going through.

It will get better: It may take a while but over time you will be able to settle back into a normal routine. That doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to miss the person you have lost. But you will be able to remember them without the intense feelings that come with a recent loss.

See our Pet Loss Section for information about pet loss and grief.

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