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Coping with Grief After the Death of a Loved One

A resource and turning point for those struggling and trying to cope with the death of a loved one.
by

Elizabeth Parker

on 20 April 2015

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Transcript of Coping with Grief After the Death of a Loved One

What is Grief?
Since grief is such a wide topic that covers so many kinds of losses and an almost infinite range of emotions, there isn't a single grief definition that encompasses everything.
However, there are a few definitions that, together, encompass what you are going through.
Coping Tips
1.)
Get support
- Turn to friends, family members, pets, support groups
2.)
Take care of yourself
- Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way (art, writing, songs/music, etc.)
- Look after your physical health (getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthfully, avoiding alcohol or other drugs as attempts to cope)
- Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel, either.
- Plan ahead for grief "triggers" (anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken strong memories and feelings, and that's completely normal)

Resources
1.) CAPS on campus
2nd Floor of Student Health Center
(707) 826-3236 (after-hours: 24/7 crisis support)
-Call or come by to schedule a same-day appointment, or, if you find yourself in crisis, come M-F 8-4:30 on the hour for a crisis appointment
2.) Hospice of Humboldt (no insurance required for services)

Grief Support Services
2010 Myrtle Avenue
Eureka, CA 95501
p: 707-445-8443
f: 707-445-2209
e: info@hospiceofhumboldt.org
w: http://www.hospiceofhumboldt.org/bereavement/
By Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition, Ft. Collins


1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief. No one will grieve the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don’t let them tell you how you should be feeling.
1. You have the right to talk about your grief. Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will let you talk as much as you want, as often as you want.
1. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions. You will feel many emotions during your grief journey. Some may tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don’t take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.
1. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits. Your feelings of loss and sadness can fatigue you. Respect what your body and mind tell you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don’t allow others to push you into activities you’re not ready for.
1. You have the right to experience grief “attacks.” Sometimes, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but it is normal. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.
1. You have the right to make use of ritual. Rituals do more than acknowledge the death of someone. They provide you with support from caring people, as well as a way to mourn.
1. You have the right to embrace your spirituality. If faith is a part of your life, express it. Be with people who understand and support your spiritual beliefs.
1. You have the right to search for meaning. You may ask, “Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?” Some questions may have answers, others may not.
1. You have the right to treasure your memories. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of a loved one. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.
1. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal. Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient with yourself, and avoid people who are impatient with you. Neither you nor those around you should forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.
Coping with Grief After the Death of a Loved One
Definitions of Grief
“Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind."
"Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior."
And perhaps especially...
“Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who’s always been there, only to discover when I need her [or him, them, etc.] one more time, she’s no longer there.”
This latter statement truly gives meaning to and validates the immense pain you may be currently experiencing.

And perhaps you're not feeling pain, but rather confusion, anger, fear, guilt, or even numbness or a lack of emotion.
--> these feelings, or even a lack of feelings, are okay to have, too.
Coping Tips (con't)
3.)
Seek out professional support if needed
After a while, and with time, strong feelings in response to a loved one's death should become less intense. However, if you find yourself unable to cope after an extended amount of time and find that the grief is getting in your way of living life, you should contact a professional for their support.
Contact a grief counselor or professional therapist if you:
- Feel like life is not worth living
- Wish you had died with your loved one
- Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
- Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few to several weeks
- Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
- Are unable to perform your normal daily activities
Grief and Culture
Every culture has its own worldview. Within different cultures...
- There is no correct way to mourn the loss of a loved one.
- Each culture has its own way of helping people cope with death and grief.
- Beliefs, rituals, and traditions specific to a person’s culture can provide some predictability and normalcy during a time that is difficult and confusing.
Source: http://www.cancer.net/coping-and-emotions/managing-emotions/grief-and-loss/understanding-grief-within-cultural-context
The Grieving Person's Bill of Rights
All Rights are labeled as #1 to symbolize that no Right is more or less important than the other and because some may apply to you more or less than others do.
A few videos that might help:
College student grief (<4 min)
Interview w/ Alex (<4 min)
(4 minutes)
This one is longer, but is worthwhile
How to deal with grief and loss with David Kessler (30 min)
A couple of guided meditations...
(10 min)
(18 min)
Full transcript