Losing someone or something you love is very painful. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. Sometimes it may feel like the sadness will never let up. While these feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel is necessary for healing.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve -but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. You can get through it! Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.
Everyone grieves differently...
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can't be forced or hurried - and there is no "normal" timetable for grieving.
Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it's important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
If someone you love is experiencing grief this holiday season, here's what you can do to offer them comfort:
- Be a good listener - Your loved one may need to talk about what has happened, their feelings about it, or just to reminisce about their lives together.
- Provide reassurance - it is very common for a person to feel guilt, that they could have done more. Let them know that they did what they could.
- Be available - This is especially true immediately after the death and during holidays and other special events when the loss is most keenly felt.
- Help out with errands and other tasks - Depending on the situation, a grieving person may feel too overwhelmed with emotion to do even simple tasks; they may be having to deal with funeral arrangements or medical care; or they may be having to take up the slack for a spouse who is no longer around to help them.
- Be patient - If a loved one refuses to accept your invitations to dinner, etc., be patient and keep asking. In time they will be ready.
- Be understanding - The grieving person may be angry and upset and take their anger out on you. Understand that they are going through a difficult time and don't hold it against them.
- Keep in touch - Write letters, send sympathy cards or flowers, or call periodically.
Please contact RMH Grief and Loss Services for more information on this important topic. The first two confidential appointments are free.
Nancy Shomo, Grief and Loss Services Coordinator
RMH Center for Behavioral Health
644 University Blvd., Harrisonburg, VA 22801
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