Facts About Grief
Grief is an unavoidable process which must be experienced on the road to recovery.
Grief is cumulative.
Verbalization speeds the grieving process.
Grieving people do not need advice or questions.
Each person tends to experience five distinct stages when grieving any major loss and tends to drift in and out of these stages for an indefinite period of time.
The quiet, reassuring presence of a friend can be helpful as each stage of grief is being experienced.
People usually die in character, in the way that they have lived.
Uncomplicated grief can be lengthy and intense.
The length and intensity of grief depend upon variables which are somewhat predictable.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Steps of Grief
1) SHOCK AND DENIAL
The real and the unreal collide. One commonly feels that one cannot believe the person is gone. Shock and denial make it possible for us to go on with the business of living. It’s protection for the body.
People may think they’re going crazy. They lose or misplace things and cannot remember names. This is a protection for the mind. (This is not a good time to make decisions to sell your home, accept another job, or move away).
The bereaved one is angry at the doctors, hospital, the car in the accident, or the person who left you alone by dying. This reaction is followed by volatile emotions that cause one to go from laughing one minute to sobbing the next. One feels as though he is on a roller coaster.
This is the time when we say to ourselves, “If only I had gotten the person to the hospital sooner,” or, “If only I had been a better wife/husband.” We think the loss of the person is our fault.
5) PERIODS OF DEPRESSION
Holidays, anniversaries, and Christmas are especially bad.
6) PERIOD OF RELIEF
A person realizes he/she is feeling better and begins to think he/she will pull through.
7) FEELING OF RESOLUTION
A person is ready to return to the old world with new energy. The person begins to move on with life without thinking of the loss every waking moment. He/she begins to re-establish old relationships and contacts.
GRIEF NEVER GOES AWAY ENTIRELY, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE TO GET TO THE PLACE WHERE THE PAIN IS BEARABLE. There may be times when the person swings back to the steps that he has experienced before, but each time this occurs it should be just a little easier to cope.
It is important to follow the steps all the way through. The coping has to begin sooner or later. A person can’t just put it out of his mind and refuse to hurt or think about it. Eventually, it will catch up with him. It may be years later, but he/she will have to follow the grief process to get back to normal.
Elements of Healing
• Try to remember, try not to forget.
• Good memories (I remember when....stories) are important.
• Time can result in either healing or infection.
• You need support from both inside and outside your family.
• Faith-Prayer-Community of Faith; where would you turn without them?
• Learning about the experience of others gives you insight into your own story.
• Assume whatever you are going through is normal.
• Share the pain of your darkness.
• Be sensitive to the fact that people grieve differently.
• Sharing with those who have been there has a special meaning.
• Feel free to protest “why” of death.
• Take time and space yourself and work through your guilt over doing so.
• Take time to laugh and cry.
• Take the initiative and make things happen for yourself; work, activity, exercise.
• Life will never be like it was. You will need to create a new life, make new choices, and develop new friendships
• Reach out and help others. Beware of dwelling on self.
• Confront guilt by realizing you did the best you could. (“All things considered, with no rehearsal for what you went through, you did the best you could.”)
• Be grateful if you experience a good death.
• You must let go of your loved one(s).
• Through dreams, visions and other means, it is possible to experience the comforting and reassuring presence of your loved one(s). Don’t be afraid to ask God for some sign of your loved one(s) presence.
• There is nothing wrong with talking to the dead.
• Persons who have been down the road before can be symbols of hope.
• Your experience of death may cause others to make significant changes for the better in their lives and relationships.