When Someone You Love Dies

When we encounter death, we face an irreversible, unalterable situation that we are powerless to change. The loss of a loved one can be devastating and grief can be overwhelming. It is a very personal event – no two people will grieve the same way. One typically feels a multitude of emotions during the grief process including bitterness, emptiness, apathy, love, anger, guilt, sadness, fear, self-pity and helplessness.

  • Grief expresses three things: 1. feelings about the loss; 2. protest about the loss as well as desire to change what happened; and 3. the effects experienced from the impact of the loss. Although some writers have tried to identify different stages of “normal” mourning, it has been determined that there is no uniform and orderly succession and even the most typical cycle of grief can not be put into any rigid expected order of appearance. However, the most frequent cycle of grief includes: initial shock, emotional release, loneliness/depression, guilt, anger/hostility, inertia, gradual return to hope and normality.
  • Certain factors can effect the grieving process including: sudden vs. anticipated death (anticipation and preparation can sometimes make the process smoother), familial relationship, beliefs/religion, survivor’s background and personality, social environment, support system, and the circumstances accompanying the death. It is common that years after the deceased’s death, one may experience “grief evoking events” where something happens to resurrect intense feelings of grief. Examples include anniversaries, birthdays, or family celebrations that re-remind of the loved one’s absence.

It is very important to feel the pain of the grief.

  • It is not abnormal for females or MALES to express emotions during the grieving process. In fact, the absence of emotions is abnormal which is contrary to what our society teaches. Society says that grief should be brief and men should be “strong” and not outwardly express their sadness at all. Persons can however become “stuck” in their grief when it keeps the mourner in bondage to the deceased person and prevents moving on with life. This usually happens when one attempts to deny or avoid the pain of grief or avoids letting go. It is very important to feel the pain of the grief. Tears are the vehicles we have been give to convey the deepest feelings that words cannot express.
  • A griever should seek to accomplish four grief tasks: 1. Accept the reality of the loss, 2. Work through the pain of grief, 3. Adjust to an environment that the deceased is not a part of, and 4. emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life. Accomplishing the grief tasks does not mean that grief will be resolved completely. There are certain aspects of the loss you will have until the day you die.
  • As Therese Rando, author of How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Die instructs, “… Treasure what you have learned from it [the loss], take the memories that you have from the person and the relationship and, in a healthy fashion, remember what should be remembered, hold on to what should be retained, and let go of that which must be relinquished. And then, as you continue on to invest emotionally in other people, goals, and pursuits, appropriately take your loved one with you, along with your new sense of self and new way of relating to the world, to enrich your present and future life…”
  • Some suggestions to help persons manage grief include: make an intentional decision to get through your grief, accept social support, research the type of grief you are experiencing, find someone who has experienced a similar loss, read the bible, and pray.