Grief is a normal response to loss. If you've lost a loved one, you know the process is painful and can seem unending. However, there are two ways to handle grief.
One way is to ignore and avoid all the emotions associated with your grief. However, experts believe choosing to ignore these emotions will only continue to give you mental and physical pain. Not accepting the loss you’ve experienced can run you down mentally because of the constant need to make up excuses of why he/she may not be with you. This can also lead to physical fatigue.
The other way to handle your grief is to recognize the pain you feel. By recognizing the emotions you are feeling, you can begin to heal and grow. The process may be slow and difficult, but you are more likely to heal than if you chose to ignore the symptoms of grief.
Some of the symptoms you may experience during the grieving process are shock, denial, anger, guilt, sadness, acceptance and growth. Most individuals feel several of these emotions at the same time.
Shock is an emotion that is felt if the death of a loved one happens unexpectedly—as in an accident. It is common to feel confused and even develop a loss of appetite.
Denial usually follows right after the initial shock of loss. You may know that your loved one has passed away, however you aren’t quite ready to accept the reality of the death. Many individuals fantasize that their loved one will walk through the door even though they know he or she has died.
Anger is another common and normal symptom that you may feel. The anger may be directed at anyone from the doctors who “didn’t do enough”, to the deceased for “abandoning” you.
Few people go through the grieving process without feeling some type of guilt. You may look for creative ways to blame yourself for not saying or doing the right things before your loved one passed away.
Sadness is the most inevitable symptom of grief. Sadness can come from feeling alone or abandoned. You may experience crying episodes that never seem to end.
Over time, you should be able to acknowledge the loss of a friend or family member. Being able to accept life without this individual can give you the ability to peacefully remember old memories and be willing to create new ones in the future.
While the process of grieving causes you pain, it also allows the opportunity for you to grow as an individual. Some people find new strengths and passions which they didn’t know they had as a result of feeling so many painful emotions.
"While we may not all grieve the same way, we all go through a basic process," said Carla Stadel, RN, BSN, director of Hospice and Homecare. "It is important to acknowledge any emotions you are having over the loss of a loved one. Talking to a family member or friend about how you are feeling is important. Reaching out to local support groups can help you through the grieving process, as well as talking with your health care provider”.
Helping you on your healing journey
While many people know hospice care is centered on caring for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the terminally ill, many people do not realize hospice also offers community grief support for people who have lost a loved. One form of this care is the hospice bereavement and support program facilitated by a grief counselor. Bereavement programs are offered to the community free of charge, which include HEAL Grief Education and Support Group sessions, Handling the Holidays and more.
For more information, call 608-324-1230 or visit monroeclinic.org, click on “Events” and then search by “HEAL”.