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Grief: The Healing Process
Managing life after the loss of that special someone who was close to you is generally very hard. We try to describe just some of the feelings you may have and hopefully suggest some ways of handling them over the first few months of your grieving process.
Such a small word for something that is so big, grief is our response to loss. It is almost impossible to summarize grief in written form. It should be clearly said that grief is ‘personal’ and each and every one of us will deal with it in a different way. Lets be clear, there is no right or wrong way of dealing with grief.
Often with grief comes both physical and emotional pain. Just some of the emotions one will feel, include shock, anger, guilt, regret, numbness and loneliness are emotions that most people feel relating to the loss of someone close to you. There are unfortunately no ‘magic wands’ that will take away the pain. Grief is just something you will have to work through. No set time when it can be said that you will feel better. Frequently you will find that you will take two steps forward and three steps back.
Normal first reactions
When you have been expecting someone close to you to die, you may at first feel numb. This is nature’s way of helping you to realise and acknowledge the death. If the loss is unexpected and sudden, your first reaction may be doubt. It will take time to comprehend what has happened and you may feel a great deal of emotional pain because you did not have chance to say goodbye.
It is possible that you find yourself in expectation of your loved one suddenly arriving and you may hear familiar sounds for example a key in the door, or you feel that they are present in the room with you. You need to accept these as part of the grieving process. These things will eventually guide you through this dreadful stage.
Grief: The Physical signs
Many of us can be physically affected by the loss of their loved one. Some may not be able to sit and may become overactive. Whilst others can have headaches, shortness of breath, stomach pains, chest pains, faintness, or just have a total lack of concentration or depression. There are those that will find it hard to sleep and some can have the experience of bad dreams.
You should not be alarmed; it is improbable that you will suffer with any of these symptoms. You just need to understand that emotional shock can produce a range of physical symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the above, it is important that you speak to your doctor if any of these symptoms occur over a period of time.
You should never be afraid of crying or showing your feelings. It is know that tears relieve some of the emotional stress and you have nothing that you need to be ashamed of. Most commonly, people have times of anger, they are angry and feel that they have been deserted or that the hospital or doctor did not help to prevent the death, or you are angry that your loved ones life was not fulfilled and that there are unfinished plans.
You may also experience guilt. ‘If only…’ ‘What if I….’ are common thoughts and are completely natural after the loss of a loved one. Speaking with your family or close friends about your feelings will be a comfort to you and may help.
Withdrawal from social contact is a process some people choose to follow; they feel incapable of facing the world outside. It is possible that you feel like this, but you should be aware that grieving is arduous enough without having to go through it alone. Make time for yourself to grieve and adapt to your new circumstances. You should allow yourself time prior to making any big choices like for example moving home. Healing comes, most importantly from talking. It can help to discuss many times, with family and friends what has happened. Disclosing your feelings can also help. Professional counsellors or organisations like the Samaritans will be prepared to give you the time and understanding to talk to you. You will never get over it, but in time you will have learned how to deal with what has happened.
You should be aware of some danger signs, for example; becoming too dependent on alcohol or tranquillisers. It may be helpful to keep a diary or write down your feelings and thoughts, and unless you want to you will never need to show your note to anyone.
Please visit our Helpful Organisations page for a detailed list of services such as the Samaritans who provide support for those who are experiencing the loss of a loved one.