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Coping with Grief and Loss

When someone we love dies, often our own life stops. If we do not grieve, we may stay frozen in pain and sadness. The closer the relationship you had with the person who died, the deeper the grief. Grieving enables our lives to continue. 

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You may experience many emotions such as shock, anger and guilt. During the shock stage you may feel the most painful of human experiences – acute grief. During acute grief, you may be incapable of doing the most simple of your normal activities, like reading a newspaper. You may find yourself relying on other people to do for you what you would normally do for yourself. You may be unable to prepare meals, wash clothes, or take your car into the repair shop for service. What you used to do automatically now requires concentration and thought. Do not assume that you are crazy or unstable. This is normal while experiencing acute grief. You may not always feel this way but during this time, it is important that you reach out to your personal support system to those who care about you and will listen to you.

You may also have thoughts of suicide and feel as though the sadness will never go away. These are all normal reactions, and grief is a natural response to loss.

Grief is the emotional feeling you suffer when something or someone you love is taken away from you. The death of a loved one often causes intense grief, but truly any loss can cause grief.

Grieving is personal for each individual. How you grieve depends on your personality, life experience and your faith. The grieving process can take a long time. The timetable for grieving is different for everyone. For some people it can be weeks or months, but for others it may take years. It is important to be patient and get help from your personal support system or appropriate trained professionals.

There are five stages to grief: 

1.  Denial: "This can’t be happening to me."

2.  Anger: "Why is this happening to me?"

3.  Bargaining: "Make this not happen, and I will __________."

4.  Depression: "I am too sad to do anything."

5.  Acceptance: "I have accepted the fact that _______ has happened"

If you are grieving, it is a normal reaction to experience one or all of the above mentioned emotions. Or, you may not experience any of those emotions, because grieving is such an inpidual process. Having the support of others is an important factor in healing from the loss.

Many people who are grieving try to get through one hour at a time, then one day at a time, and sometimes one moment at a time. As you make it through the first few days or weeks, you may want to try some coping strategies, such as creating a memorial, planting a tree, random acts of kindness in memory of your loved one, or do something that can benefit others.