Losing someone close to you can make you feel sad, lost, alone, and maybe even angry. You greatly miss the person who has died—you want them back. You might have also been so busy with caregiving that it now seems you have nothing to do. This can add to your feelings of loss. This is all part of grieving, a normal reaction to the loss of someone you love.
There are many ways to grieve and to learn to accept this loss. Try not to ignore your grief. Support may be available until you can manage your grief on your own. It is especially important to get help with your loss if you feel overwhelmed, consumed, or very depressed by it.
Family and friends can be a great support. They are grieving too, and some people find that sharing memories is one way you can help each other. Feel free to talk about the one who is gone. Sometimes people hesitate to bring up the loss or mention the dead person's name as they worry this can be hurtful. But everyone may find it helpful to talk directly about their loss. Shortly after Carol's husband Doug died, her friends started coming over with dinners as well as memories to share. They would sit around Carol's dining table for hours remembering Doug's humor and kindness. Soon Doug's friends were joining them with their own recollections. It was so like old times that it almost seemed Doug had just stepped out of the room. Those evenings together helped Carol, as well as the others, start to heal after their loss.
Sometimes people find grief counseling makes it easier to work through their sorrow. There are grief counselors who will talk with you one-on-one. Regular talk therapy can help people learn to accept a death and, in time, create a new life. There are also support groups where grieving people help each other. These groups can be specialized—parents who have lost children or people who have lost spouses, for example—or they can be just generally for anyone learning to manage grief. Check with religious groups, a local hospital, hospice groups, or your doctor to find support groups in your area.
An essential part of hospice is providing grief counseling to the family of someone who was under their care. Even if hospice was not used before the death, you can ask hospice workers for bereavement support at this time. If the death happened at a nursing home or hospital, there is often a social worker you can ask for resources that can help. The funeral home might also be able to suggest where you can find counseling.
Remember to take good care of yourself. You might know that grief affects how you feel emotionally, but you may not realize that it can also have physical effects. The stress of the death and your grief could even make you sick. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and get back to doing things you used to enjoy, like going to the movies, walking, or reading. Accept offers of help or companionship from friends and family. It's good for you and for them.
Let major decisions wait, if possible.
Try to delay major life decisions until you are feeling better. You don't want to decide to make a big change like selling your home or leaving your job when you are grieving and perhaps not thinking clearly.
About Dealing With Grief:
Publication Date: September 2012
Page Last Updated: June 26, 2013