After the loss of a loved one…

It is a time in our lives each of us hopes we never have to face; the loss of a loved one and the grief we endure.

Submitted by Ponoka Victim Services

It is a time in our lives each of us hopes we never have to face; the loss of a loved one and the grief we endure.

Grief: the feelings, thoughts, and actions you may have before and after your loss.

Grief is unique to each person and each of us has our own style of grieving. Not everyone has the same feelings or the same experience. Grief can affect every aspect of your being. If you are concerned about how you are doing or have concerns about someone you love, talking to someone you trust or to a professional may be helpful.

Mourning: grief that is public; when you share or show you’re inside feelings with others.

Bereavement: the time following your loss, your mourning and grief.

Experiencing grief

The effects of grief are varied and can sometimes be overwhelming. Grief can make us feel disorganized and confused.

It leaves us feeling empty, lacking energy and aching both emotionally and physically. While it is normal for you to try to avoid these feelings as they arise, it is important to accept them and allow yourself to feel them. These feelings should not be pushed down, but accepted and experienced as they are part of saying goodbye. You may feel very tired as you deal with your sorrow. Rest is important. Some people may experience the feelings that they are going “crazy.” Remember that you are not “crazy,” even if you feel that you are.

Grief, loss and bereavement can affect every aspect of your being.

Feelings: Thoughts: Actions:

Sadness Disbelief Sleeplessness

Anger Doubt about self Weakness

Loneliness Racing Thoughts Dry Mouth

Irritability Thoughts about the deceased Restlessness

Fear Absented minded Breathlessness

Shock Denial Upset stomach

Yearning Inability to concentrate Waking early

What helps:

• Spending time with others: Friends and family can be a source of support and comfort. Let them know when you want to be with them.

• Take care of yourself: Get lots of rest, exercise and nutrition. Set limits and say no to unwanted interruptions on your time and energy.

• Delay: Take time to make major decisions. Your judgment may be affected by your grief. It may take up to a year or much longer before you feel strong enough to make changes like moving or remarrying.

• Seek help: Sometimes friends and family may not be able to give the help you need. Look for professional support or self help groups to support you.

• Accept your feelings: Accept that the feelings you are having are real and they are yours. There are no right or wrong feelings. Drugs and alcohol may dull feelings for a short time, but this may delay the grieving process.

• Express your feelings: Talk with someone or write out your thoughts and feelings. Crying is healthy. It may be helpful to write down your feelings. Talk with someone you trust, and allow yourself to cry when you need.

• Expect grief to take time: Be kind and gentle with yourself. Time alone will not heal … but time well used can influence the grief process. You begin to blend your losses in your life by slowly adjusting to life without that person and acknowledging that a deep loss has occurred

Ways to remember a loved one:

• Create a memory book.

• Make a donation in that person’s name.

• Purchase a special ornament or plant a tree.

• Write a poem or story about them.

You may begin to experience pleasure. This is not disloyal to the person you have lost, but a sign that the healing process is beginning. The past is not forgotten; you have memories. Accepting the reality of a loss is also helpful to try to find meaning from this experience and lastly open you to a new journey. Slowly, you feel like yourself and have the energy to plan for tomorrow.

Resources:

The Distress Line: 1-877-303-4357

Health Link: 1-866-408-5465

Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642

Victim Services: 403-783-6539

Taken from: Dealing with Grief, East Central Health palliative care program, 2007.