Ten Commonly Asked Questions About Grief
- WHY DO I FEEL THIS WAY?
- AM I "GOING CRAZY?"
- WHY AM I SO ANGRY?
- WHAT DO I DO ABOUT THIS GUILT I FEEL?
- WHAT IF I FEEL "FINE?” IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME?
- I HAVE A STRONG RELIGIOUS FAITH SO I SHOULDN'T BE GRIEVING, SHOULD I?
- HOW CAN I "LET GO” OF THE PERSON WHEN I DON'T WANT TO?
- IF I STOP GRIEVING FOR SOMEONE DOESN'T THAT MEAN I HAVE FORGOTTEN THEM OR THAT I DON'T LOVE THEM ANYMORE?
- WHY DO I STILL FEEL THIS WAY? IS IT EVER GOING TO END?
- WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO "GET BETTER?
The death of someone close to us is a terrible emotional trauma. The grief we feel is a normal, natural, and necessary reaction to that trauma.
Our grief can cause feelings of panic, desperation, anger, and great sadness and guilt. We might be confused, forgetful and not able to make decisions. We might feel helpless, hopeless and out of control. This can be very frightening, but it is not "going crazy.” These are typical grief reactions, which will gradually begin to go away.
Anger comes from hurt or fear, and the death of someone we love hurts us and might make us afraid. We might be angry at health care professionals, other family members, the person who died, or God. On top of that we can be angry with ourselves. It can be a difficult thing for us to feel angry or to admit it, but it is just a phase of grief which will pass on. If it doesn't, it might be good to speak with someone about it, to get some ideas on how to express the anger in a healthy way.
When someone dies we might feel guilt. This can involve feeling responsible for the death in some way or for conflict in the relationship in the past. If so, it might be good to find someone we trust with whom we can talk about it. More often, though, we feel regret, which is different from guilt. Guilt is when I blame myself for something bad that happened. Regret is when I feel bad that something happened but I realize it wasn't my fault.
Grief is very personal. There's no timetable for it. It can come and go. You might already have grieved a lot. Or your mind might be "taking a rest” from the grief, or putting it "on hold” for a while. It could be an indication that you're moving into a different phase of grief. There will be good days and bad days, and as time goes on...more good ones than bad ones.
All of the world's major religions accept that grief is a part of human nature. Both the Jewish and Christian scriptures of the Bible are full of stories of devout people in grief. A noted Christian theologian once said that when his son was killed in a car accident, "God's heart was the first to break.”
When a death occurs the relationship with our loved one changes, but it doesn't necessarily end. What we do have to adjust to is the loss of the physical presence of the person and all that it meant to us. And in time we must learn to reengage emotionally with others. Other than that, our beloved is still a part of us. What we "let go” of is the pain we feel at their absence.
Long after the worst part of our grief ends, we will still have memories of the person and love for them. In a way, the "end” of our grief simply means that we are once again able to freely love the person since we are no longer consumed by our personal sorrow, confusion and anguish. We won't forget them, and will probably even love them more over time.
Yes. The grief you're feeling now can end. The term "mourning” refers to the process of coming to terms with the death, the absence of our beloved, and one's grief. Like any process, it takes time. There are no timetables for grief and it will not end in one dramatic moment. It will diminish little by little.
Grief is so personal. What is helpful for one person might not be for another. However, some things that can help are: being patient with one's self - knowing that it will take time, being aware of one's feelings and learning to express them in some way, finding someone to talk to, and getting information about grief.