A Loved One Dies
Preparing yourself for the inevitable
is a normal response to any loss and affects the grieving person
physically, emotionally, and spiritually often causing the person
to think and act in ways different from their previous "normal"
may have heard something to the effect of "just give it time
and you will eventually feel better. Time is necessary to the
healing process, but it is only one aspect of effective grieving.
addition to taking time, grief requires intentional "work"
by the bereaved in order to achieve a healthy outcome from the
process. Similar to someone taking action to seek medical help
to set a broken leg so that it might heal properly, the bereaved
must take action to move through grief.
intentional "work" of grief can be summarized in five
basic tasks, which involve specific behaviors (things to do to
help yourself work through grief). These five basic tasks facing
a bereaved person are:
and accept that your loved one has died and is unable to return.
this task may sound obvious, many bereaved have a difficult
time accepting the reality of a loved one’s death and
facing the harsh fact that the person is not coming back.
all the emotions associated with the death of your loved one.
than attempting to suppress emotions only to have them come
to expression later in more detrimental ways, a bereaved person
achieves a healthier state more quickly by giving full expression
to all the emotions they are experiencing (as long as they
do not express themselves in destructive ways).
summarize, and find a place to store memories of the deceased
person which will honor the memories of that person and make
room for the bereaved to eventually move on to a new volume
in their life. Resolution of grief never means forgetting
the loved one. Memories are precious possessions, but appropriate
memories do not control our emotions on a daily basis. We
are free to live life fully again in the present and remember
the deceased when we chose to.
who you are now, independent of your prior connection with
the deceased person. Basically we are all individuals –
that is how we were born and that is how we die. In order
to truly live a full and complete life, especially following
the death of a loved one, we must once again (re)discover
who we are individually and independent of the relationship
we had with the deceased.
in life as an individual without the deceased person. We must
learn to accept that all of life is marked by change. Each
day calls for a new form of investment. A bereaved person
has experienced a deep trauma, but eventually this can be
seen as an opportunity to "begin again" in a new and fresh
grieving process usually takes at least one year in order to experience
all the "firsts". The grief process may take as long
as two or three years, but the intensity of the emotional pain
should decrease during that period of time. It is important not
to make important decisions too quickly because you will feel
differently about things as you move through the grief process.
sudden or unexpected death may cause significant initial shock
or numbness and may also lengthen the grieving process.
in some way that a person is going to die (anticipating the death)
does not reduce the intensity of the grief or pain. Anticipating
the death may help motivate you to engage in some planning (e.g.,
concerning financial, funeral, and relationships matters) which
might make the grief process less cumbersome.
grieving process is also affected by many other factors, including
the personalities of the people involved, the type of relationship
someone had with the deceased, and the present circumstances of
one s life (e.g., age, family structures, finances, health, employment,
person can "resolve" their grief and move again into
a happy, healthy and satisfying life. "Resolution" means
that the emotional pain of the death no longer controls your day
to day activities and that you are once again able to develop
a perspective on your life which is positive and future-oriented.
Moments may arise which trigger a temporary emotional response
to the death in the same way that emotions are associated with
other past events in our lives, but resolved grief means that
you have been able to (re)construct a new "normal" lifestyle
which is fulfilling and purposeful without holding on to the deceased
J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. DeVries, 2000. Authors of Getting
to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 1998) ISBN: 0-8010-5821-X