Grief is a normal response to loss. It often brings physical and emotional pain. Shock, anger, guilt, regret, numbness and loneliness are some of the emotions most people feel. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to take away the pain. Grief is something you have to work through.
There is no set time to say when you will feel better. Sometimes you might find that you take two steps forwards and one step backwards. But, rest assured, inner peace will return in time.
Even if you have been anticipating the death of someone close to you, you will most probably still feel numb. This is Nature’s way of creating realisation and acceptance. However, if the death is sudden or unexpected, your reaction may well be one of disbelief. It may also take time to understand what has happened, with the additional pain of knowing that you did not get the chance to say goodbye.
You may even find yourself expecting your loved one to return home, hear the sound of their key in the door, or even feel their presence in the room.
Some people are affected physically by the death of their loved one, unable to sit still. Others have headaches, shortness of breath, chest pains, dizziness, lack of concentration or depression. Some find it difficult to sleep and some experience bad dreams. But don’t be alarmed – it’s unlikely that you will suffer any of these symptoms. It is just important to realise that an emotional shock can produce a physical reaction. If in doubt speak to your doctor.
Do not be afraid of crying or showing emotion. Tears relieve emotional stress and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Most people have times when they feel angry – angry that they have been left alone or that the doctor did not prevent the death, or simply angry that a life was left unfulfilled or plans unfinished.
You might also feel guilt. ‘If only…’ is a very common feeling and is natural after a death.
Talking about these feelings with a close friend or member of the family may help you.
Many people choose to withdraw from social contact, feeling unable to face the outside world.
You may feel like this, but grieving is difficult enough without having to do it on your own.
Allow yourself time to grieve and adjust to your new situation. Always take time before making any major decisions such as moving house. The most important healing can often come from talking, so it may help to go over what happened with family and friends. Talking about your feelings may also help. You will never get over it, but in time you will come to terms with what has happened.
Try to recognise the danger signs of becoming too dependent on tranquillisers or alcohol. You may find keeping a diary or writing down your thoughts helpful, even if you decide never to show your words to anyone else.