A Loved One Dies
Preparing yourself for the inevitable
is a normal response to any loss and affects the grieving
person physically, emotionally, and spiritually often
causing the person to think and act in ways different
from their previous "normal" behavior.
may have heard something to the effect of "just
give it time and you will eventually feel better. Time
is necessary to the healing process, but it is only
one aspect of effective grieving.
addition to taking time, grief requires intentional "work" by
the bereaved in order to achieve a healthy outcome
from the process. Similar to someone taking action
to seek medical help to set a broken leg so that it
might heal properly, the bereaved must take action
to move through grief.
intentional "work" of grief can be summarized
in five basic tasks, which involve specific behaviors
(things to do to help yourself work through grief).
These five basic tasks facing a bereaved person are:
and accept that your loved one has died and is
unable to return. Although this task may sound
obvious, many bereaved have a difficult time accepting
the reality of a loved one’s death and facing
the harsh fact that the person is not coming back.
all the emotions associated with the death of your
loved one. Rather than attempting to suppress emotions
only to have them come to expression later in more
detrimental ways, a bereaved person achieves a
healthier state more quickly by giving full expression
to all the emotions they are experiencing (as long
as they do not express themselves in destructive
summarize, and find a place to store memories of
the deceased person which will honor the memories
of that person and make room for the bereaved to
eventually move on to a new volume in their life.
Resolution of grief never means forgetting the
loved one. Memories are precious possessions, but
appropriate memories do not control our emotions
on a daily basis. We are free to live life fully
again in the present and remember the deceased
when we chose to.
who you are now, independent of your prior connection
with the deceased person. Basically we are all
individuals – that is how we were born and
that is how we die. In order to truly live a full
and complete life, especially following the death
of a loved one, we must once again (re)discover
who we are individually and independent of the
relationship we had with the deceased.
in life as an individual without the deceased person.
We must learn to accept that all of life is marked
by change. Each day calls for a new form of investment.
A bereaved person has experienced a deep trauma,
but eventually this can be seen as an opportunity
to "begin again" in a new and fresh way.
grieving process usually takes at least one year in
order to experience all the "firsts". The
grief process may take as long as two or three years,
but the intensity of the emotional pain should decrease
during that period of time. It is important not to
make important decisions too quickly because you will
feel differently about things as you move through the
sudden or unexpected death may cause significant initial
shock or numbness and may also lengthen the grieving
in some way that a person is going to die (anticipating
the death) does not reduce the intensity of the grief
or pain. Anticipating the death may help motivate you
to engage in some planning (e.g., concerning financial,
funeral, and relationships matters) which might make
the grief process less cumbersome.
grieving process is also affected by many other factors,
including the personalities of the people involved,
the type of relationship someone had with the deceased,
and the present circumstances of one s life (e.g.,
age, family structures, finances, health, employment,
person can "resolve" their grief and move
again into a happy, healthy and satisfying life. "Resolution" means
that the emotional pain of the death no longer controls
your day to day activities and that you are once again
able to develop a perspective on your life which is
positive and future-oriented. Moments may arise which
trigger a temporary emotional response to the death
in the same way that emotions are associated with other
past events in our lives, but resolved grief means
that you have been able to (re)construct a new "normal" lifestyle
which is fulfilling and purposeful without holding
on to the deceased person.
J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. DeVries, 2000. Authors
of Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming
the Loss of a Spouse (Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House Company, 1998) ISBN: 0-8010-5821-X