Patients & Families

Understanding Grief

Grief, with its many ups and downs, lasts much longer than people often recognize. There are many factors that determine the length and intensity of grieving. Be patient with yourself.

Crying is a normal and healthy way to grieve, and it releases built-up tensions. So cry when you feel like it.

There may be times when friends and relatives are uncomfortable around you and don’t know what to say. That discomfort may be from their worry over being helpful to you, or from their own grief process. Let them know when it is okay to talk about your precious child. You may find being around other people to be difficult for a while.

Physical reactions to your loss may include having no appetite or over-eating, trouble sleeping, or lack of energy. You may also find it hard to concentrate on your usual activities. Try your best to take care of yourself; eat well, rest, and exercise as you are able.

Grief is not an illness. It is a natural and healthy response to losing someone you love. People all over the world grieve. There will be some things about your grief that are special to you, because you are special. But there are also some things about your grief that will be much like everyone’s. Some of the basic feeling common to grieving are:

  • Shock – At times, you won’t be able to feel much of anything. This is normal. It is nature’s way of protecting you from some of your pain.
  • Confusion – You may be confused at times, with lots of different thoughts racing through your mind. You may also experience a sense of the dead person’s presence.
  • Guilt – Feelings of guilt are very common after a loss. It is normal to look back on the relationship and illness and feel regrets. It’s natural to experience the “if-only, could-have, should-have” feelings. You may even have some guilt over experiencing some relief. Be gentle with yourself. Forgiveness takes time.
  • Anxiety – You may feel tense, and have heart palpitations, stomach aches, or dizziness along with this feeling. You may sometimes wonder if you will live through your grief or if you will ever feel happy again.
  • Anger – It is normal to feel some anger in your grief. You may also experience hate, shame, fear, resentment, rage, or jealousy. At times, these feelings may take you by surprise and or be stronger than you expect.  

Stay away from drugs or alcohol. They will not help you feel better. Take prescription medications only when your doctor says it is okay.

Your grief is special. It will be different, and you will cope differently from others. For some people, professional counseling or attending a support group may be helpful. If you feel that you are having a very difficult time, or just want someone to talk to, please call for help.

You may feel you have nothing to live for and would like some relief from this intense pain. Please know that others have had similar feelings. The pain does usually ease, but only with time, and with allowing yourself to experience the grief process.