The Definition of Grief
“Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who’s always been there, only to discover when I need her [or him] one more time, she’s no longer there.” Anonymous
When someone you care about dies, it is one of life’s most painful events….perhaps even the MOST painful event you might experience. Our reaction to death is many-faceted and extremely difficult to discuss. In many circumstances, those engulfed in grief are left alone to cope with their pain...especially after an initial couple of weeks have passed.
Mourning vs Grieving
As a funeral home, the most immediate crisis we help families with involves mourning. Mourning is the short-term period during and immediately following a death in which families feel and deal with the crisis and often feel numb. This is the time during the funeral. Grief is the more long-term feelings that explore the loss and the journey of going through the feelings and emotions of learning to live with the deceased.
With that being said, we have a Licensed Professional Counselor on site that provides mourning and grief support to the families we serve. Our Living Through Grief program provides resources, referrals, and a grief support group to help families grieve.
Regardless of our station in life, each of us experiences times of great sorrow and loss. Each of us deals with those losses in our own way. Some are easier to deal with than others, but each transition changes our lives in very definite ways. Some events that come to mind are:
- The death of a parent, child or spouse
- Diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness
- A serious decline in the health of someone you love
- Moving, Death of a pet
- Having to give up a portion of your independence or a significant activity
These losses are a part of life. But, like all losses, these transitions can be painful, and grief is a logical response to these transitions. They are interposed around the joyful moments in life and are a part of what it is to have a well-lived life. Acceptance of and journeying through these moments and emotions can be difficult, but there is freedom and peace in the end.
We highly recommend several local resources to help families. Please contact us to find out what would best fit your particular need.
The Caring Place: A center for grieving children, adolescents, and their families. 1-888-734-4073 www.highmarkcaringplace.com
Anchorpoint Counseling Ministries. 412-366-1300 http://anchorpointcounselingministry.org/
For immediate crisis Resolve Crisis Network 888-796-8226 http://www.upmc.com/Services/behavioral-health/resolve-crisis-services/Pages/default.aspx
Grieving is a Process
Loss is a part of life. Eventually, each of us will suffer a major loss. When we experience that loss, we experience grief. Grief comes in various forms, and everyone experiences it in their own way. This is a normal and natural path. However, grief also has some common traits that everyone experiences at one time or another.
You might have heard of the stages of grief. When someone experiences a major loss, they can move through them - shock, numbness, guilt, anger, and denial. In my experience, these feelings are fluid, and you might not experience them in that order, nor is there a formula for how much time you spend on each stage. When someone is grieving, they might also have physical symptoms of their grief play out in their lives as well. Some of the physical symptoms could include insomnia, lack of appetite, an inability to concentrate, depression, or a lack of interest in taking part in favorite activities.
Grieving takes time. Losing someone important to you is a life-altering event. As time passes, you may cycle through the various stages of grief. You might also experience some or even ALL of the physical symptoms as well. You might visit some of the stages of grief more than once, and you might think you are okay, and a song or a photograph triggers a memory that ushers in a fresh wave of sorrow. It is a process….a process that isn’t completed overnight. When you allow yourself to experience these thoughts and feelings and accept them as a part of that loss, you are moving forward toward healing and accepting a ‘new’ normal in your life.
When you experience a major loss, it can be devastating. It’s hard, hurts, and can be incredibly difficult to just get out of bed in the morning and face the day. It can be overwhelming, and you can easily become bogged down in those feelings. If you find that you are having a hard time dealing with the basic functions in your life or having a hard time reconnecting with your friends after a few months have passed, you might want to consider seeking professional help. Depression can be debilitating. If you continue to experience physical symptoms of grief months after the loss, it may be time to seek the assistance of a physician.
When things go numb...
Support Systems are important.
When you are an independent person, it can be hard to reach out for help….and even harder to accept it when it’s offered….especially when you are dealing with pain and grief. However, sometimes the best gift you can give yourself is a circle of supportive, caring friends and relatives. These people can and will provide for you in every way you need. These people are your encouragers and supporters. They might provide meals or a shoulder to cry on. They might wash your dishes, or they can provide a listening ear over coffee. These people are the ones who can and will walk with you through your grief process, acknowledging your feelings and supporting you through it all.