Grief Support

When we experience a strong grief we will experience increased chaos in our lives. We are moved out of our routines and habits and thrust into a time and place that seems chaotic and unpredictable.

The following would be among one of the most important points to keep in mind as we grieve. The idea is this – we must always remember that each of us will grieve our losses in unique ways, and because of this, our journey through grief is one that can only be known as it unfolds before us, as it is experienced.

There is no one who can tell you what your grief will be like, and there is no one who can (or should) tell you what your grief should be like. As hard as it is to face this truth, you are on your own separate journey when you grieve and mourn a loss. Your journey will take you to emotions and places that may or may not be familiar to you, and to emotions that others may or may not feel as a part of their grief experience. Your grief will be unique. It will be determined in part by your personality style, and through the confluence of many other important factors.

All of this is to say that even when several people lose the same person (for example, their father), each of these bereaved persons will experience that loss in a uniquely personal manner. We must remember then that our grief is a reflection of who we are. As such, others may not understand nor appreciate all (or even some) of what you are going through.
We may sometimes think that because we are feeling sad, or lonely, or afraid, or angry, that others should be feeling these emotions also. It can be helpful to keep in mind that your reactions are entirely valid for you, just as the grief reactions of others are valid for them, given their relationship with the deceased person and their life history.

So, as you experience the different emotions of grief and loss, remember that these emotions are your unique way of dealing with your loss. Respect that the mourning process will lead you to eventual healing, and that we heal by facing the pain of our losses through our entirely valid emotional reaction loss.

12 stages of Grief..

1) Shock – disbelief
Shock is the first reaction to the news of death of a loved one, and is often total disbelief if that death is sudden. Shock is the body’s way of coping with traumatic situations in life. It is a period that allows us time to gather our resources to cope with the following stages.

2) Emotional release – It’s alright to cry!
At this point, we are unable to hold in the intense emotion which the loss has created and it is natural for that emotion to find release through crying.
Many men find it difficult to cry because they have been brought up to believe that it isn’t “manly”. But holding in our emotions can make the recovery process more difficult.
We won’t “loose control”, or our sanity, if we cry. It is a natural reaction – IT’S ALRIGHT TO CRY!

3) Loneliness – feeling low
Almost everyone feels this loneliness, a sense of complete separation from the person who is no longer alive. We feel really low in spirits and don’t know what to do or where to find relief. It’s important to release that, this is normal. It’s alright to feel low and alone, even if we have plenty of family around to support us.

4) Physical symptoms of distress
The pressures of coping with bereavement may sometimes cause our bodies to react in the form of headaches, backaches, asthma or some other illness, sometimes even reflecting the symptoms of the deceased.
A visit to the doctor may be wise, but often it is just natures way of telling us to “take it easy for a while” until we can get our whole bodies back into gear again.

5) Pining – unable to cope with today.
The friendship and pleasures which we shared with the deceased preoccupy us – nothing else seems to give us comfort!
Many people fear that they may be going “crazy” with their grief, but knowing that this is a normal human reaction which is part of the recovery process, will help us to push through this stage.
Now is the time to reach out to other people – it’s not that easy to do but it is important to keep trying.

6) Relief
Many people closely involved with a person who was ill for some time before death, can find themselves emotionally drained and physically exhausted.
For many there is a feeling of relief that the deceased’s pain and suffering has finally ended. It’s alright to feel relieved – it’s quite normal. We must accept that relief without feeling guilty.

7) Sense of guilt
When we have lost someone why was dear to us, many of us take on the blame for what has happened.
“But I only spoke to him yesterday!”… “I could have tried to stop her driving that night!”.. “If only I had been there!”. These are typical reactions to death and all quite normal. Whether real or imagined, all feelings of guilt hurt the ones who are grieving and we mustn’t take the blame for something out of our control.

8) Anger
As we gradually turn our feelings away from ourselves, many of us can experience intense anger, towards the person who has died – “how could he leave me like this?”, towards the medical profession – “why didn’t the doctors save her?”, and even towards God – “if he’s a loving God, how could he let them die?”
It’s alright to feel angry. It’s quite normal and it is important not to suppress these feelings. It is also important not to let our anger get out of control, but to direct it in a positive way.
Where possible, sharing these feelings with a compassionate listener will help.

9) Inability to return to normal activities
Although by now we have come through the worst of the emotional upheaval, it is still difficult to return to normal activity. We may become apathetic and lacking energy, but this isn’t permanent.
It does help if we can share our memories with others by talking about the life and death of the deceased.

10) The light at the end of the tunnel
Gradually we can now start picking up the threads of some of the activities we enjoyed before and try to re-establish a life that has some meaning.
Most of us need to move through the various stages of our grief, in whatever order they come, so that we can finally begin to build a new life.

11) Welcome back
At last life becomes bearable again and we can “rejoin the human race”, although we will never be the same as before.
It’s now important to have enough self esteem to recognise our owner capabilities and strengths, as well as having faith in others to help us cope.

12) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The stages of grief may happen in any order, some may go unrecognised while others will not apply to everyone. What is important is not to get stuck in any one stage as we work our way through. If this happens, it may be helpful to talk. We have a number of resources for people in grief.

Hall & Co Funeral Directors has a special Christmas Candle Service to remember your loved one.

“Christmas can be a sad time, especially if someone you loved is not with you. To those who make this life a pledge of light and spirit, even though our spirit be but the feeble glow of a candle, there is no dark that it cannot pierce – for light goes on…”

Remembering… Take time to quietly reflect on those whom you have loved and died.

We will offer you words, we will offer you music, but most importantly we will offer you a hand, as you negotiate these stepping stones across the river of grief.

There may be a few stones, there may be hundreds – today is one of those first steps that you are making.

Please take the time to talk to us about your grief as it is helpful to share. Phone 0800 86 33 78

Visit the: National Association for Loss and Grief (NZ) Inc” web site.