There is no easy way around grief. It is a natural response to the loss of someone special or something we value. Grief is not well understood in our society and some people try to deny it, postpone it or avoid it. Basically, however, someone close to you has died, there will be big and small adjustments which have to be made in your life.
These could bring uncertainty, frustration, fear, sadness and change as each new day comes along. You will change. Your routine will change. Your moods will change. All of this is called “grief”. It’s really about adapting to changes in your life, your thoughts, your hopes, your beliefs and your future.
There is no set pattern to follow when you are grieving. Even members of the one family, who are mourning the loss of the same person, will grieve in diverse ways. Some common grief reactions include: Crying, Anger, Shock, Guilt, Panic, Fear, Confusion, Relief, Numbness, Frustration, Depression, Low Energy.
Grief usually does not last forever – even though, at first, grieving people may believe “I’ll never get over this”. It helps to be honest about your feelings and to have people around you who will listen and accept the way you are responding.
Grief is also for children. Like adults, children will react to the news of death individually, perhaps with unexpected responses. The child may say it’s not true or lash out physically or verbally. Wanting to be left alone or being curious and full of questions may be more common for some children than sadness. Later, as the loss sinks in, some children show their grief by changed behavior like angry outbursts or a lack of interest in their usual activities or school work.
Fears may surface – who’s going to look after us now? Will we have to move house? I’m afraid to go to sleep. I don’t understand what’s going on. Children are best helped by adults who give them clear and honest explanations about death and who allow tears or other feelings to surface without criticism or rejection. To say to a young child “we lost Grandma in the night” or “Daddy has gone to heaven” can be vague and confusing.
Such explanations equate death with simple going away and can leave the child with the expectation that at some future time the person will return. Often cuddles, hugs and some quiet time together will satisfy a child who is feeling frightened or unsure about the changes happening in the family.
There is a universal need to express grief, which can be met in different ways, depending on the person and his or her beliefs, circumstances and culture. It is important to understand that grief is not a sign a weakness or poor coping skills. Rather grief is a healthy normal part of the healing process. We do not claim to be grief experts, but we do keep updated with what the experts say.
We collect resource materials and can provide these free of charge. Furthermore in our local community there are many organisations which provide support for the bereaved and we can refer you to them should you wish.