Everyone’s grief is different, so please don’t put yourself on an artificial timetable. What takes one person several years may take another six months. Many factors influence grief including:
1) the nature of your relationship with the deceased (e.g., child, parent, friend) and the level of closeness between you
2) any key unresolved issues between you and the deceased
3) circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death
4) your age, personality, coping style, and your past experience with bereavement
5) your social support system
6) other losses you’ve recently experienced (e.g., several deaths in rapid succession, also losing your job or home in a compressed time frame).
Give yourself room to experience the loss of your loved one and make meaning of it by
1) talking with friends, relatives, and others in your support network. Talk about your loved one to remember them and make sense of their passing
2) accepting your feelings about their loss, including sadness, anger, regret, confusion, and weariness
3) maintaining your daily routine. Take care of both yourself and your family each day so that you keep moving forward. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
4) reaching out to others in your support network to support them in how they are dealing with the mutual loss.
5) finding a special way to honor the memory of your deceased loved one.
There is no shame in asking for professional help, so don’t be afraid to consult a qualified counselor or psychologist if you feel you are having trouble coping with your loss. Some of the signs that you may need to seek a professional’s help include:
• You don’t start to feel any better as time passes.
• Inability to enjoy life
• Problems accepting the death
• Bitterness about your loss
• Preoccupation with your sorrow
• Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
• Extreme focus on the loss and reminders of the loved one
• Intense longing or pining for your deceased loved one
• You start to think about hurting yourself or others.
• You have ongoing trouble eating or sleeping (too much or too little).
• Your feelings begin to disrupt your daily life.
• You turn to drugs or alcohol for coping.
• Numbness or detachment
• Depression or deep sadness
• Trouble carrying out normal routines
• Withdrawing from social activities
• Irritability or agitation
• Lack of trust in others
Be easy on yourself and know that others care and can identify with your feelings of pain.