Grief is normal and natural after the loss of a loved one. The only 'cure' for grief is grieving. It can't be ignored, repressed, or dismissed without lasting consequences. But there are a range of programs, tools and resources to help you cope and live with your loss.
Grief recovery is simply the process of dealing with loss:
- Shock, confusion, depression, guilt, lack of appetite and sleep disorders is just some of the common expressions of grief.
- Fortunately, there are support groups, chat rooms, videos and books, and professional counselors that can help you through this painful process.
- This process is different for everyone, and it lasts longer for some than others. Grief takes its own path.
Caregivers often experience the most profound grief. The stress of caring for a loved one does not negate the reward in caregiving. When that loved one is no longer there, it represents a unique loss. It is sometimes the loss of the former life for the caregiver, the end of an era.
There are five stages of grief. It can be helpful to understand that you may feel any or all of these things during your grieving process.
Denial: "This can’t be happening to me."
Anger: "Why is this happening? Who is to blame?"
Bargaining: "Make this not happen, and in return I will ____."
Depression: "I'm too sad to do anything."
Acceptance: "I'm at peace with what happened."
Grief is not depression, grief is grief. Distinguishing between grief and depression isn’t always easy. They share many symptoms, but there are ways to tell the difference.
- Grief can feel like being on a roller coaster. It involves varying emotions and you will have good and bad days.
- Even when you are in the grieving process, you will have happy moments.
- With depression, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant. If you feel like you need help, get it. Talk to a counselor or therapist.
Grief Recovery Tips
- Schedule regular appointments to see friends for lunch, dinner or coffee.
- Go to the movies, you are less likely to become isolated if you make plans.
- Walk, exercise does wonders to make you feel better. Also, consider yoga or other exercise.
- Write about how you are feeling, and about the moments you shared with your loved one. Journaling is very helpful, and there is no need to share these personal thoughts. They belong to you.
- Laugh, read a funny book or watch a movie, even your favorite ones that you have read and seen before. It is okay to laugh. You have to keep living.
The Hospice Foundation of America is a not-for-profit organization that assists those who cope either personally or professionally with terminal illness, death and grief. Each year HFA produces the National Bereavement teleconference.
GriefNet is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death and loss that includes 37 email support groups and two web sites. Their integrated approach to online grief support provides help to people working through loss and grief issues of all kinds.
The Grief Recovery Institute offers certification, outreach and community education programs designed to help grievers deal with their loss and by offering practical tools to overcome loss and regain happiness.
WidowNet is an information and self-help resource for, and by, widows and widowers. Topics covered include grief, bereavement, recovery, and other information helpful to people of all ages, religious backgrounds and sexual orientations, who have suffered the death of a spouse or life partner.