If you’ve lost a loved one, you’re probably experiencing a lot of different emotions. Each feeling you experience is another step in your grieving process. The grieving process is
like a journey—it takes you from the starting point of your bereavement to another stage in your life.
Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom. ~Rumi
Everyone grieves differently; some people become very quiet and thoughtful, others cry a lot. No one way is better than the other. Some experts believe that most people go through similar stages of grief depending on how far the grieving process they are. These stages include:
Denial: You might not believe that your loved one has really died. If your loss is recent, see other immediate reactions.
Anger: You might be angry at yourself, your family members, a higher power, or even the person who died.
Bargaining: You might try to negotiate with yourself or if you are religious, the figure you pray to in order to get your loved one -or even some piece of mind- back.
Depression: This might be an emotional low point for you, when you don’t care about anything or anyone. You might go through feelings of emptiness, loneliness, or might even stop caring about anything or anyone.
Acceptance: At this point, you may begin to make peace with the fact that your loved one has died.
Everyone grieves at his or her own pace because there isn’t a fixed amount of time that you have to go through these stages.
Making it Through the Grieving Process
Managing grief is hard but here are some suggestions that may help you to get through the process:
Accept your feelings: There’s no right or wrong way to feel after losing someone you care about. Accepting the feelings you have and acknowledging that you’re going through a stressful experience can help you manage your reactions. Sometimes you might feel overwhelmed with your thoughts and feelings, which might make you think you’re going crazy. Don’t fret because this isn’t the case at all. It’s just another stage you go through when grieving.
Allow yourself to cry: It’s OK to cry. If you feel uncomfortable crying in front of other people, you might want to make a plan to leave and cry in a private place. This could be in a quiet room, at the park, at school, or in a campus counselor’s office.
Also, if you’re in school, it might be a good idea to let your teacher or professor know of your loss, so he or she can be aware of what you’re going through, help you along the way, and offer support.
Smile: Many times we focus on the sadness of losing a love one, but it may be helpful to talk about the memories and good times you’ve had with the person. It’s OK to enjoy those memories and laugh about the fun times you shared. This isn’t a sign that you miss the person any less.
Saying goodbye: Part of the grieving process is letting go of the person who died. It’s important to say goodbye in your own way in your own time. There’s no right or wrong way. Some ways that can help you say goodbye to the person is by:
Writing a letter
Going to the funeral
Having memorial service by yourself in your own way
Honoring your memory of the person who passed
Avoid bottling up emotions: Keeping things to yourself might build up tension inside you. Finding a way to express how you are feeling might help you to feel better. You might want to talk to someone, write your thoughts down, draw, or punch some pillows.
There’s no timeline or deadline: Don’t worry about how long grieving should last or any judgments that you should be “over it” by now. Everyone experiences grief in their own way and on their own timeline. And you may feel better for a while and then experience a fresh wave of grief – especially if something happens that reminds you of the person, or as a significant holiday or anniversary approaches.
Talk to someone: It might be helpful to talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. This could be a family member, friend, mental health professional, minister or other spiritual leader.
Acknowledgments **Some of the information is adapted from the book After Suicide, Help For The Bereaved by Sheila Clark. Published in 1995 by Hill of Content Publishing Company Pty Ltd, Melbourne 3000.
Responding to Tragedy in a Child's Life
Ways you can help:
Recognize that this is going to be a difficult time for you. Dealing with grief and loss especially under traumatic circumstances takes a toll on everyone and it is important that you, the caregiver to a child, also seeks out your own support and self care. Make a list of helpful people with whom you can talk and things that help you feel grounded: art, nature, music, yoga, aromatherapy, massage, etc.
Dealing with death can bring up our own past losses and traumas.
Provide opportunities for children to write, journal, draw pictures and make cards for the family
Allow children who do not wish to talk about the crisis to engage in normal activities
Points to Remember when Talking to Children
Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand, even grownups. Doing things that you enjoy may help. Following your regular routine as much as possible and being with friends, family, and pets, can also help you feel better.
Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, may be suffering from untreated mentally illness, or may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Violence is never a solution to personal problems
Let children know that help is available and there are alternatives to suicide, violence and mental illness