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Dealing with Your Grief

What Grief Is

A normal reaction to an abnormal event – a painful loss or trauma in your life

An emotional journey that takes longer than you think it should and takes more energy than you could ever imagine

A presence that appears in every area of your life: physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, professional, educational, etc. There is nowhere it is not felt.

A loss you mourn now, and a loss of hopes, dreams, and unfulfilled expectations you held for the future

A wide variety of feelings and reactions that continually change, often including anger, depression, irritability, frustration, guilt, sadness, apathy, confusion, shock and denial

A sudden ambush of emotions that occurs without warning, bringing spasms of acute sadness

A debilitating condition that adversely affects your organizational skills, intellectual processing, decision making and recall

Feelings of overwhelming guilt or anger. These two emotions are particularly difficult for women to overcome in the grief process. Many women find themselves plagued with “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve, if only” thoughts.

What Grief is Not

Contagious. When people avoid you, try not to take it personally. They don’t know what to say or do to comfort you. They’re clueless – so educate them! Tell them what you need: a hug, a meal, a note, a phone call, to say your baby’s name, to listen while you talk, to sit and cry with you. If they do those things – you have a friend for life!

The same for everyone. Grief is a solo journey – different for every human being. Different for men and women (see Coping Together) and different for adults and children. Let each person grieve in their own (healthy) way.

Quick to get over. Grief always takes longer to get over than you think it should. Grief has no timetable. Don’t ever put a time limit on grief. It takes as long as it takes. And just when you think it’s gone for good…it comes out of nowhere and ambushes you. Be patient with yourself.

Invisible. Grief affects every area of life, so there will be tears, apathy, silence, remembrances, laughter, anger, frustration, staring off in space, confusion, excessive talking, and a hundred other emotions. Grief-related emotions need to be expressed in order to find healing. There will be good days and bad days. If you have a good day, don’t think your grief is over. If you have a bad day, don’t think you need to see a psychiatrist. You probably don’t – you’re simply grieving.

Curable. You are never really “over it” or “cured”; you will continue to be a recovering bereaved parent, but you move on with your life in the midst of the loss. A part of moving on is to re-examine your faith, values, and beliefs after losing a child. We question things we’ve been taught all our lives and, hopefully, come to a deeper understanding of God through the process.

Getting back to ‘normal’. Grief changes people. You are not the same person you were before your child died, and you never will be that person again. You will create a new ‘normal’. You will have new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values, and beliefs. Perhaps even better ones than you had before.