Even though everyone grieves in their own unique way, there are some questions that are commonly asked about grief and the mourning process. We have listed below 10 of the most frequently asked questions. In order to read the response simply click on the question you would like to have answered.
If your question is not answered here, or if you would like to know more, please feel free to contact us by calling (302) 999-8277 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This question is asked with the expectation that grief has a starting point and an ending point. This is simply not the case. There is no time in which our grief completely ends but there are a few indications that the hardest parts are over. William Worden explains it this way. "There is a sense in which mourning can be finished, when people regain an interest in life, feel more hopeful, experience gratification again, and adapt to new roles. There is also a sense in which mourning is never finished" (Warden, 2002, p. 47).
There are times we feel like we are going crazy during our grief process. This involves a lack of concentration, disorganization, and a numbness that we seem unable to move out of. There are some things you can do. Making a list of "Things to be done" can help. We don't have to worry about remembering the things we need to do if we have written them down on a pad of paper. Some people have written their lists in a notebook and used it as a kind of diary from day to day. As you complete a task, cross it off the list. As we cross items off the list we are encouraged to see that we are actually getting things done. Anything not accomplished then can simply be put on the list for tomorrow.
If you are feeling like you are going crazy, you may be fine, and this may be a normal part of your grief process. Call our Bereavement Coordinator and talk to him about it. It helps to talk to a grief specialist when we feel this way. It allows us to make sure our reaction is normal and it enables us to receive additional guidance.
Pain is always a part of our grief. Someone very important to you is gone and that reality will always remain with you, and it hurts. How long will it last? No one can say. It all depends upon your relationship with the person who has died. It may be a short time, it may be a long time. Just know that the sharpness of the pain will eventually go away. In time your pain will subside to a kind of mellow remembrance. Even then, the pain may spike back without a moments notice as you hear a song, read a poem, see a photo, or smell a fragrance that reminds you of your loved one.
The bad news is, it never will. It can't. A person that was once a significant part of what was "normal" is no longer here. One aspect of the mourning process is learning to live without the person who has died (Worden, 2002). Some have explained that outcome as "learning to develop and live with new normals throughout the rest of the survivor's life" (Corr, Nabe, & Corr, 2003, p.229-230).
Therefore, what was normal before the loved one died, can not be regained. But as time goes by and you begin to adjust to the person not being present, you will begin to find what that "new normal" will look like.
We would recommend that you read the book The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions, by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. Vries (2002). In it they give many practical insights along with things you can do to help you cope. Among them are: 1) Take care of yourself physically. Be sure to drink plenty of water, eat right, get proper exercise, and plenty of rest. 2) Give yourself the freedom to celebrate the occasion differently than you have before. You may even want to skip it all together this year. That too is alright. 3) Give yourself time to focus on the feelings of your loss. Give yourself an appointed time to do this and it will help you not to avoid your feelings and give you the safety you need to express them.
Anger is a normal human emotion. "The human is always looking for someone to blame. If we have lost someone to death, we express hostility toward anyone who cared for the patient" (Westberg, 1985, p.51). As we go through the list of people to blame, we may eventually come to God. "How could God allow such a thing to happen?" It is normal to feel this way and it is a common reaction to the death of a loved one to ask questions like this.\
Some say it is wrong to be angry. The truth is that anger is just an honest emotion. It is not wrong or sinful to be angry. What is important is how we deal with the anger. The hardest and the most important thing to do when we are angry is to express that anger in a way that it does not hurt anyone. A friend of mine threw 3 dozen eggs as hard as she could in a field to help dispel her anger. Screaming into a pillow, physical exercise (running), and punching a pillow on the floor are all positive ways to release the anger. Talking about it helps too. Just be careful to talk to someone who will not be judgmental of you.
Feeling guilty after a loss is common. We as humans are always second guessing ourselves. "I should have" or "I could have" are every day words in our vocabulary. When it comes to the death of a loved one, and especially a sudden or traumatic death, we almost always blame ourselves for something. This guilt may be "realistic or unrealistic". Some things you can do are: 1) Be kind to yourself. "Most of this guilt is irrational and centers around the circumstances of the death" (Worden, 2002, p.60); 2) Seek out the help of a counselor or a grief specialist. He or she can help you to see things more objectively.
If you are asking this question, the answer is probably yes. This is a new experience for you and is affecting you in every aspect of your life. Many people who meet with our Bereavement Coordinator meet just the one time and are encouraged as a result. They then have the resources they need to continue through their grief journey. You can feel free to call Ralph, or send an e-mail message anytime.
People are often unsure what to do or what to say to someone when a death occurs. We tend to avoid the subject and the person or people who are affected by the death. Avoidance is what not to do. Allow us to give you some practical suggestions of things you can do.
Listen. A grieving person does not want to hear your advice or your problems. If you are totally quiet and just listen to them, you and your presence will be appreciated.
Say "I am sorry for your loss", or "It must really hurt".
Tell the bereaved a story about the deceased. They will be encouraged to know the deceased was significant and special to you too.
Attend the funeral or memorial service.
Send a card or a note many months and even years down the road to let them know you have not forgotten.
Yes we can. Feel free to visit the Children & Grief section in this website. There, you will find resources to help your children with their grief. You can also contact our Bereavement Coordinator who will take the time to listen to your concerns, and together, you can find the best solution for you and your children. Helping grieving children is something we take very seriously.
When helping children deal with their grief, it is probably most important to remember at least two things:
We must be honest in what we say, and
We must be open with our emotions.
Children deserve an honest answer to their questions, especially the difficult ones. They also deserve for us to be open with them concerning our own grief. It is OK to cry in front of our children. It will let them know in an honest and open way that we are hurting just like they are. It also gives them permission to cry. As Dr. Alan Wolfelt has stated, "As care givers, openness and honesty are essential" (1998, p. 50).
Corr, C. A., Nabe, C. M., & Corr, D. M. (2003). Death and dying, life and living (4th ed.). Belmont, Ga.: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Westberg, G. E. (1985). Good grief: a constructive approach to the problem of loss. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Wolfelt, A. (1998). Helping children cope with grief. Bristol, Pa: Accelerated Development.
Worden, J. W. (2002). Grief counseling and grief therapy: a handbook for the mental health practitioner (3rd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Co., Inc.
Zonnebelt-Smeenge, S. J. & De Vries, R. C. (2002). The empty chair: handling grief on holidays and special days. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.