Grief is a feeling experienced when someone, something, or someplace that is valued is lost for a period of time. Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services staff will assist family and friends with grief issues.
What is Grief?
Most people who suffer a loss experience one or more of the following characteristics:
- An empty, hollow feeling in the stomach, and a loss of appetite
- A tightness in the throat and heaviness in the chest
- A weakness in the muscles and lack of energy
- A feeling, especially early on, that the loss is not real; that it didn't really happen
- A difficulty sleeping, and frequent dreams of their loved one
- A sense of the loved one's presence; sometimes "hearing" their voice or "seeing" their face; almost expecting the person to walk into the room
- Aimless wandering about the house; absentmindedness and forgetfulness
- The need to keep busy; restless over activity
- A sense of loneliness and sadness
- Frequent tears and crying, often at unexpected times
- A sense of relief that the ordeal of dying and death is over
- A feeling of anger, sometimes directed toward the loved one for leaving them
- Feelings of guilt; a lot of "if only" or "why didn't I?"
- A feeling of anger or regret over what happened or did not happen in the relationship with the deceased
- A need to tell and retell the story of the loved one's dying and death
- The need to remember and share stories about the loved one and their relationship
Grief is a healing process. It takes time and effort. Here are some suggestions that may be of help to you.
- Express your feelings in ways that are helpful to you. Give yourself permission to cry, alone or with others.
- Talk about your grief. Share your thoughts and feelings with family and friends. If a friend gets tired of listening, find another who will listen.
- Keep busy. Do purposeful work that is meaningful to you.
- Take care of yourself. At times it may be difficult to eat, sleep and exercise, but your body needs nourishment and rest.
- Reach out to others. Old friends and new ones are an important part of our lives and our healing.
- Postpone major decisions. Give yourself some time before deciding to sell the house or change jobs.
- Make use of your faith. Your attitudes and values, as well as your religious beliefs and practices can play an important part in your healing.
- Get professional help if needed. If you decide that your grief is crippling you and interfering with your ability to function and enjoy your life, you may want to talk with a trained counselor.
- Participate in grief support activities. These activities are designed to help people with a normal grief process.
Grief in Children
Children benefit from hearing truthful information appropriate for their age, relayed in a loving and supportive environment. Given this information, children will be able to make decisions about going to the hospital, visiting a family member at home, attending a funeral.
Any change in a child's world can trigger fear. It is important that they be told what is happening and how they will be cared for through the change. Frequent reassurances, comfort and nurturing, and a consistent routine help relieve distress.
Symbolic play, drawings and stories can encourage the expression of feelings. Physical activity, laughter and talking can help a child to maintain a healthy balance and find the energy to cope.
Children will model the behaviors of the adults in their world. When a parent dies, a child loses the other parent to grief. When a sibling dies, a child loses both parents to grief.
"Hope" and Grief
There is always reason to hope. Feeling hopeless can make it difficult to cope with change and face the challenges of each day.
- We can hope that the treatment being given to our loved one will ease pain and reduce symptoms.
- We can hope for a good day.
- We can hope for a peaceful death.
- We can hope that others will understand and be there for us.
- We can hope that we will find the strength to go on.
- We can hope that our memories will sustain us.
- We can hope that reinvesting in life will help us fulfill the dreams our loved one had for us.
- We can hope that we can make it one day at a time.