Grief may be experienced in response to physical losses, such as death, or in response to symbolic or social losses such as divorce or loss of a job. The grief experience can be affected by one’s history and support system. Taking care of yourself and accessing the support of friends and family can help you cope with your grief experience.
Grief lasts as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in your life after your loss. It can be for months, or even years. Grief has no timetable; thoughts, emotions, behaviors and other responses may come and go. Counseling and support services may be helpful to a person with normal grief reactions. These services can be a guide through some of the challenges of grieving as one adjusts to loss.
The goals of grief counseling include:
Grief therapy is sometimes indicated when individuals have more complicated grief reactions. The goal of grief therapy is to identify and resolve the conflicts of separation that interfere with the ability to mourn the loss. It is indicated when any of the previously described complicated grief symptoms are evident.
Complications in grief may occur if grief from previous losses resurfaces. Grief therapy addresses what is interfering with the grief process, identifies unfinished business with the deceased and other losses that result from the death.
Bereavement groups can help you recognize your feelings and put them in perspective. They can also help alleviate the feeling that you are alone. The experience of sharing with others who are in a similar situation can be comforting and reassuring. Sometimes, new friendships grow through these groups – even a whole new social network that you did not have before.Many people discover that there is hope after death. Death takes away, but grief can give back. It is possible to recover from grief with new strengths and a new direction. By acting on our grief, we may eventually find peace and purpose.
Here are a few tips and reminders when someone close to you is grieving:
There is no right way to grieve and mourn. Be very careful not to impose your expectations on someone else, no matter how much you think it might “help.”
To support a caregiver who is grieving, ask how you can best help, and listen for what they seem to need. Express your concern for how the illness is affecting them personally. Even if you have been a caregiver yourself, don’t say you know what they are going through. Empathize, by saying, “I am so very sorry,” but don’t say you understand.
When caregiving ends it is normal to feel both grieved and relieved, but caregivers often feel guilty about any feelings of relief they may experience. Remind them that these feelings are normal and common. Caring for a loved one can be exhausting work, but when caregiving ends, time often seems endless. Offer to help grieving caregivers fill their day with meaningful activities. Help them get back into life at a pace that is acceptable to them. Caregivers and former caregivers often haven’t had enough sleep, nor have they eaten well, so encourage a grieving caregiver to obtain adequate rest and nutrition.
Additional information about the grieving process may be found on the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Caring Connections website.