Experiences of Grief

Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the death of a loved one. Most of us are not prepared for the long journey of grief which is sometimes devastating, frightening, and often lonely. We may think, do, and say things that are very unlike us. There seems to be no respite, no end to the intense feelings that we experience.

Grief has been likened to a raw open wound. With great care it eventually will heal but there will always be a scar. Life will never be the same but eventually you will get better.

The experiences of grief have been compared to enduring a fierce storm at sea. The waves are peaked and close together . Eventually the sea becomes calmer , but occasionally the storm regroups, strengthening without any warning. For several hours, days, or weeks, you may not feel grief; then suddenly you meet someone, or see something, or hear something and grief resumes. It seems as if you are taking one step forward and two back.

Grief has its common and its unique sides. Although it is a universal experience, no two people grieve the same, even in the same family. Like a snowflake or a fingerprint, each person's grief has characteristics all its own.

It is important to understand some of the following concepts about grief:

GRIEF WORK
The expression "grief work"' is very true. It may be the hardest work that you will ever perform. It is draining.

CONTROL
We CANNOT control the feelings that arise within us. These feelings come from deep inside, but we can choose what to do with them. We can accept or reject them. To deny only prolongs our grief. Remember, what we do determines whether we remain in our grief or survive. Feelings are not bad or wrong. They should be recognized and faced honestly.

CHOICES
About grief: there are no choices, you MUST go through it. The expression of grief is essential for good emotional and physical health even though it is painful and difficult. There are no easy answers or short cuts, no way under, over or around your grief. Although grief may hurt desperately, you must go through it.

MAJOR DECISIONS
It is strongly suggested not to make major decisions (such as moving, money matters, etc.) unless absolutely necessary during the early stages of grief when judgment is cloudy. The conventional wisdom, "Never act in haste" was never more applicable.

LISTENER(S)
Find someone who will listen. Talking is therapy.

GRIEF HAS NO TIMETABLE
Grief often takes much longer than the bereaved or the people in their lives expect. It helps to take one hour, one day at a time.

REMEMBER
People have a natural inclination to recover. Eventually you'll look back and realize; you weren't going crazy...you were grieving.

BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. RECOVERING FROM GRIEF TAKES TIME.

Hope for Bereaved
Valley Press, 1982