The Grief Journey

“You are Absolutely Normal”

Legacy

I’m going your way, let me help you along. You seem to be tired and my arms are strong.

Let me carry your load, I’m up to the test. I’ll shoulder your burden and give you a rest.

I was once troubled with problems and grief. ‘Till a friend held me closely and offered relief.

And all that friend asked before he was gone, Was when I felt better I pass his help on.


Unknown

What Happens When Grief Strikes?

When someone important to you dies, you grieve.

Whenever you have any kind of loss, you need to grieve it’s disappearance from
your life. There is a tremendous need for grieving people to talk, to search
for meaning, to try to make sense out of what has happened and what is happening.
Grief, however it may strike, often causes havoc.

Grief is pain. It hurts. It can cause frightening physical and emotional
symptoms. It can cause intense stress in families. You will be very aware of
strong, often mixed emotions after a death or loss. These may come and go
like waves washing over you. The intensity of your emotions may be new for
you, perhaps frightening or overwhelming.

In the beginning you may be in shock. You are bewildered, literally stunned.
It may cause temporary loss of memory or confused thinking. You may have moments
of denial when you think or feel as if this death has not really happened.
There may be numbness, which allows you to do the things that are necessary.
This may be followed by an array of emotions in no particular order. These
emotions might include feelings of anger, depression, loneliness, sadness,
guilt, crying, and preoccupation, feeling lost or indifferent, emptiness, outrage,
helplessness and hopelessness.

Grief is a normal reaction to loss. It shows up in several ways you may not
expect, and in ways that might make you feel that you are not “normal”.

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Have you:

  • Felt that friends should either call more – or less?
  • Felt that friends should either leave you alone or invite you out?
  • Have you brought things that you do not need?
  • Have you considered selling everything and moving?
  • Have you been angry with doctors or nurses for not doing enough?
  • Have you been sleeping either too little or too much?
  • Noticed a change in appetite?
  • Felt that no one understands what you are going through?
  • Had headaches, upset stomach, or suffered more aches and pains than usual?
  • Experienced weakness, or felt lethargic?
  • Have you been unbearably lonely or depressed?
  • Felt unusually cranky or crabby?
  • Cried for no apparent reason?
  • Have you found yourself obsessed with thoughts of your lost loved one?
  • Have you been forgetful, confused, or uncharacteristically absentminded?
  • Have you panicked over trivial things?
  • Felt guilty over things that you have or have not done?
  • Have you called friends and talked for a long time without remembering what you talked about?
  • Called friends and wanted to hang up after only a brief conversation?
  • Have you not wanted to attend social functions that you usually enjoyed?
  • Have you felt angry for being left alone?
  • Found yourself unable to concentrate on written materials?
  • Have you been unable to remember what you just read?

If any of this is happening, remember that you are absolutely normal. These
are all common reactions to grief and may take time to pass completely, but
they will pass. There is no correct way to grieve and no way to know how long
you will grieve. Grief does not travel along a straight line and then fade
away and disappear. But remember this: you will eventually feel better. You
will never forget your loved one, but your life will return to a usual state
even though it will never be exactly the same.

Mending the Heart

There are some things you can do to help yourself at this challenging time.

  • Talk about your sorrow with someone supportive
  • Honour your feelings – cry if you’re sad – laugh if you’re happy – write
    or draw how you’re feeling
  • Honour your memories – set up a new rituals, light
    a candle, create a memory scrapbook, or a memory box
  • Be with supportive family and friends
  • Get information about grief. – it can help you to understand
    your responses and your journey.
  • Nap each day and walk outside for a few minutes each day
  • Drink some water everyday and try to eat well
  • Indulge yourself – read a book, have a bath, listen to music
  • Start a new activity if you’re ready
  • “Escape” for a while (rest, vacation)
  • Try to find humour in everyday life
  • Re-examine beliefs and values
  • Search for the meaning in your life
  • Consider joining a support group

Grief may be somewhat familiar, or you may not have felt it this deeply. There
is no quick fix for grief. It is not an easy journey and there may be times
when you want more support than is available through your social network.