Working through Grief
Have patience and continue to talk to friends, family or professionals about your feelings.
- Let others help you -- and ask for help when you need it.
- Maintain a pattern for eating, waking and going to sleep.
Keep routines consistent, especially for children.
- Share the burden; talk to people about what you are going through. If necessary, seek professional advice or help from a member of the clergy.
- Try to eat and drink things that are healthy for you.
- Avoid taking medications unless prescribed by your physician. Never take medications prescribed for others.
- Prepare yourself for times in the future when grief may surprise you. It's not unusual for the first year of anniversaries and events to go by in a blur. For some, grief wells up unexpectedly in the second year. Have patience and continue to talk to friends, family or professionals about your feelings.
Grieving is a painful process. As you work through what the loss of your loved one means to you, it can sometimes be difficult to know what kinds of emotions to expect. Here's a guide to help you identify what's healthy,unhealthy and how to get help:
Signs of Healthy Grief
- Accepting the reality of your loss - not forgetting, but holding your loved one in a new place in your heart and mind.
- Venting your feelings to someone you trust, whether its family, friends, a professional counselor or a clergy member. For some, it's natural to hide feelings. Talking with a professional does not mean that you are weak or abnormal.
- Asking questions during the grieving process to make sense of your loss.
- Giving yourself permission and time to grieve.
Signs of Unhealthy Grief
The following list includes a range of emotions and behaviors that people who are grieving may experience as a part of normal grief. However, these feelings should lessen with time. If these feelings persist, become more exaggerated, cause health problems or interfere with daily life, please seek professional help.
- Emotional Feelings: sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, fear, flashbacks, loneliness, denial, irritability, longing, yearning, meaninglessness, vulnerability
- Physical Symptoms: fatigue, flare-ups of chronic conditions, crying, empty feeling, sleeping problems, eating problems
- Social Feelings: feeling like a fifth wheel, not wanting to go to events, needing to avoid places, lack of initiative or interest, feeling overly sensitive, acting dependent on others, having no interest in activities that used to be pleasurable
- Behaviors: withdrawal, staying in bed, dreaming of the deceased, slowed thinking, not caring about personal appearance, not moving, not wanting to move the deceased's possessions
Again, many of these feelings are common and should be expected while you are mourning. But if they don't get better over time, please seek help. Likewise, if you have any thoughts of suicide, get professional help immediately.
Crisis and psychiatric emergency support is available in the University of Michigan Psychiatric Emergency Room at 734-936-5900. For other support, please refer to the Resources section.
Coping Through Transitions was made possible by financial support from the Coach Carr Cancer Fund. Learn how you can help by visiting our Make a Gift web pages.