& Bereavement Support:
Grieving Experience — What You May Expect
No one is ever
fully prepared to lose a loved one. At times the pain may feel unbearable.
Grieving individuals experience a roller coaster of emotions, where one
day they feel okay and the next are overwhelmed with sadness. The grieving
process is different for everyone. The level of grief depends on a number
of factors including how close you were to the person who died or how
prepared you were for his or her death. Although the grieving process
often seems endless, it gets easier with time. Individuals suffering from
grief can begin to heal when they familiarize themselves with the symptoms
of grief and commit to the essential steps of the healing process
Although everyone’s grieving
process is different, there are basic emotions that most people
experience. The first emotion, shock, usually accompanies the news of a
death. An individual may go numb or be unable to comprehend what is
happening. A person in shock may practice everyday tasks but is unable to
feel anything. Denial typically follows shock. Even though a person knows
their loved one is gone, they may not be able to accept the truth.
As soon as individuals accept the death of a loved one, they often develop
feelings of guilt. They either become upset over their last interaction
with the loved one or they wish they could have done something to prolong
the loved one’s life. Sadness inevitably follows guilt and may last for a
week, a month or even years. During this stage, individuals may feel alone
and experience frequent crying episodes.
Eventually a grieving person begins to move forward and braces themselves
for life without the loved one. Acceptance is the first clear sign of
healing and is usually accompanied by a positive attitude toward life.
From this point on, individuals remain in a state of growth, where they
learn to turn their loss into something meaningful
Some Physical Symptoms You
- General malaise
- Upset stomach
- Heaviness in the chest
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Assuming the loved one’s mannerisms
- Inability to finish simple jobs
- Need to take care of others
- Need to repeat memories of the loved one
- Feeling the loved one’s presence
- Unexpected crying spells
Ways to Cope with Grief
Have a Funeral, Visitation or Memorial. Each of
these services bring family and friends together and help the grieving
form a support network. Most guests want to help the grieving in any way
they can. They may offer to help with any difficulties you are
experiencing, or they may offer their companionship.
Talk About Your Grief.
The best way to deal with sadness is to
communicate it to others. Share your favorite stories of your loved one.
This will not only make it easier to talk about the death but also help
you form lasting memories.
Find Hope. Form relationships with people who have experienced
similar grief. They will reassure you that the pain will ease and life
will get better.
Live A Healthy Life. Stress and grief are exhausting emotions.
Exercise and nutrition will help you regain energy and strengthen your
immune system. Make sure you also get plenty of rest.
Make Small Plans. During the grieving process it is important to go
out and interact with others. Go on a walk with a friend or make a date
for lunch. These activities will help you get through each day and ease
your transition back into a normal routine.
Coping with grief is not an easy task. Allow yourself plenty of
time to experience emotions, and grow to accept a new life without your
loved one in your own time. Remember that it is important and healthy to
grieve. Keep your friends and family informed on what you need throughout
your healing process
Trying To Help one Through
Finding the right words, fear of
saying the wrong ones, and perhaps a lack of direct understanding leave
many people uncomfortable reaching out to a grieving friend. Often, we
feel responsible for alleviating or creating additional pain for our
friends in mourning. In doing so, we fail to realize the loss of a loved
one cannot be enhanced or relieved by words.
Bereavement is a process and friends can offer support and a listening
ear, but there is no way to take away the pain from the person who has
experienced the death of someone they love. Rather than worry about what
to say to a grieving friend, friends should be receptive to the needs of
the bereaved and offer assistance whenever possible.
How to Help During the Early
Listen. Take time to sit
down with a grieving friend and ask about their deceased loved one. They
will be more than willing to share their favorite memories. You should
also be content with silence. Sometimes the grieving find it too
difficult to talk but find comfort in having a friend close by.
Ask How You Can Help. Take over as many simple tasks as possible.
Even small jobs can add to the stress of a grieving person. Offer to
pick up family members from the airport for the funeral. Bring over a
warm meal. Take the dog for a walk.
Mention the Deceased’s Name. Mentioning the deceased’s name
in conversation makes it easier for everyone to talk about the death.
Grieving people need to feel like their loved one has not been
Call. Pick up the phone regularly and call your grieving friend
to see how he is doing. Place a call within a couple days of the funeral
to let your friend know you are always free to talk. Follow-up with your
friend every few days to see if they need help with anything.
How to Help
During the Late Stages
Involve A Grieving Person.
Invite your friend to social occasions so they have the opportunity to
meet new friends and get their mind off their loss. Plan new activities
together so both of you have something to look forward to.
Remember Holidays and Anniversaries. Holidays and anniversaries
are the hardest times for people suffering from grief. Plan ahead and
invite them to your home or make a visit to their home to wish them a
happy holiday. Let them know that they have many friends and family
members ready to help them through these difficult days.
While grieving is a necessary and
healthy process, individuals can go to extremes. If a grieving person
demonstrates any of these signs, they may need professional help.
Communities, religious centers, funeral homes and healthcare
organizations have grief counseling programs or support groups.
- Weight loss
- Substance abuse
- Prolonged sleep disorders
- Talk about suicide
- Lack of personal hygiene
The best gift a friend can give to a
friend who just lost someone they love is the permission to grieve. Do
not force a grieving person to return to a normal life before she is
ready. Allow her to go at her own pace, but provide encouragement and
emotional support to enhance her healing process.
Grieving Experience — Where
You Can Find Help
J. Seaton McGrath Funeral Home and The
Church of Christ Uniting, Church Street, Richfield Springs will host
four-week bereavement workshops.
Monthly Informal Bereavement
Meetings are also held at the Church of Christ Uniting every second
Tuesday during September to May from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m.
Each program is free and open to the community
for those who have experienced a death and are grieving the loss of a
Pre-registration is advisable.
For more information please contact
Pam Hess at 858-1810 or the
Church of Christ Uniting office at