Dealing with Death and the Natural Grieving Process

Dealing with death can be an enormous emotional shock whether a loved one has passed away unexpectedly or after a long decline. During the initial days of bereavement, you may feel that everything occurring around you is slightly unreal. It might even seem like your emotions have gone offline completely for a while, leaving you numb. It’s also possible to have severe anxiety upon learning of the death of a loved one, leading to nightmares, panic attacks, or insomnia. Or, you might be overwhelmed with sadness that does not seem to have a limit.

The Grieving Process over Time

There is no one “appropriate” or “normal” response to loss. The 5 stages of grief that you may be familiar with (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) aren’t a roadmap for what every person experiences. You may cycle through all of these feelings and many others in the coming months. However, it can be helpful to understand and name these feelings to provide you with some sense of control. Be patient as the natural grieving process runs its course. You will eventually find a new level of equilibrium.

Practical Considerations when Dealing with Grief

It is very important to accept help from others during the grieving process so you have the energy and strength you need to make it through this difficult time. If you are responsible for making funeral arrangements, have someone who isn’t as close to the deceased come with you. They will have a clear head to help you understand the options that are presented by the funeral home.

If there are any tasks that can be handled without your input, entrust those to others. That might be as simple as having a neighbor care for your pets or asking a friend to check your mail and remind you to pay bills. If you cannot sleep, talk to your doctor about prescription medications that may give you some rest.

Take Time to Reflect

Trying to shove down your emotions will only delay feeling them. In addition to allowing yourself the time and space to grieve fully, also spend time facing the difficult questions that may surface during this time. In Western cultures, fear of death can be an obstacle to coping with grief. We fear what we do not understand. Despite a huge variety of religions practiced in our society, most people avoid thinking about death and dying on a personal level. Grieving can be a time of deeper spiritual or philosophical contemplation regarding the meaning and nature of both life and death.

Comments

Lavici 8/29/13 11:40am
Thank you for these words on writing about grief. I have been kepieng a journal for several years now, but before I started this I had already lost or thrown out the diaries I kept as a child. My sister died age 7 in 1980, so I would have liked to be able to look back on what I wrote as I was growing up. I recently decided to start writing a book about my journey through her death and my healing journey to the present and I found it hard going! It's still on my to do' list, although, having written only a few pages, has slipped off the top of the pile. If you have any tips for me, I'd appreciate them!
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The Natural Grieving Process

The Five Stages of Grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) do not provide a basic roadmap for every single person. The amount of time and intensity that one may experience in each stage is different for everybody. It is very important to accept help from those around you to help you during the grieving process. Friends and family members can help you with funeral arrangement, help you with daily tasks and chores, or they can simply provide a comfortable atmosphere for you to reflect in. Trying to ignore or avoid your emotions will only lengthen the grieving process.