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Death and Grieving

  • Definition

    grief is a natural response to the death of a family member or friend.


    Grief hurts, but it is necessary. When a death tears your world apart, grieving is the process that helps put it back together. While grief is natural, it is also highly individual. The relationship with the person who died will certainly influence grief, but so will your age, religious beliefs and previous experience with death. The age of the deceased and the circumstances of death will also affect the intensity of the grief experienced.

    Certain reactions to the death of a loved one are quite common, and you can expect to experience some of them.

    You may go into shock. If the death was unexpected, it is possible that you may even find yourself denying at first that the person has died.

    Another immediate reaction to death is anger. You may feel anger toward the doctors or nurses who could not save your loved one and even toward God. You may feel anger toward the person who died for leaving you, and you may feel guilty that the anger will not go away.

    We experience guilt for a number of reasons. It is common for a bereaved person to feel guilty simply for being alive when someone else has died. You may believe that somehow you should have prevented the death, or should have been present to say good-bye.

    You may dwell on an argument you had with the deceased. As the reality of death sinks in, it is common for the bereaved person to slip into depression. Even if you are normally a committed, caring person, you may find that you do not care about anything or anyone.

    You may also feel helpless. There may also be the sense of additional loss. A woman who is widowed, for example, did not just lose her husband. She also lost a friend, a confidant, someone to take vacations with, someone to help care for the children. These additional losses can leave you feeling confused.

    Another common reaction among those who grieve is preoccupation with the person who died. You may think about him or her constantly, re-create the circumstances of the death over and over again in your mind, have dreams or nightmares about the person - and even think you see or hear them. Most people are surprised and frightened by the intensity of these reactions.

    The mental strain of grief can take a physical toll as well. It is not unusual for the bereaved to lose weight, experience difficulty sleeping, become irritable or listless, or feel short of breath.


    Are there any coping methods you recommend?

    Can you help resolve the feelings of loss?

    What can be done to maintain good health?

    Can you suggest some sources of psychological support?

    Can you recommend a counselor?