The Grief Process

Dealing with grief after the death of a relative or friend is a process as well.  Grieving is an individual process.  No two people will grieve in exactly the same way.  Clergy, counselors, or social workers can provide help for people who are grieving.  Family members or friends may have any of the following reactions to the death of a loved one:

  • Shock.  Even when death was expected, family members and friends may still be shocked after death occurs.  Many of us do not know what to expect after the death of a relative or friend. We may be surprised by our feelings.
  • Denial.  Sometimes we want to believe that everything will quickly return to normal after a death. Denying or refusing to believe we are grieving can help people deal with the hours or days after a death. But eventually we must face our feelings. Grief can be so overwhelming that some people may take years to face their feelings. Professional help can be very valuable.
  • Anger.  Although it is hard to admit it, many of us feel angry after a death.  We may be angry with ourselves, at God, at the doctors, or even at the person who died.  There is nothing wrong with feeling anger as part of grief.
  • Guilt.  It is very common for families, friends, and even caregivers to feel guilty after a death.  We may wish we had done more for the dying person.  We may simply feel that he or she did not deserve to die any more than we did.  We may feel guilty that we are still living.
  • Regret.  Often we have regrets about what we did or did not do for the dying person.  We may regret things we said or did not say to a person who has died.  Many people carry regrets with them for years.
  • Sadness.  Feeling depressed is very common after a death.  We may cry or feel emotionally unstable.  We may suffer headaches or insomnia when we cannot express our sadness.
  • Loneliness.  Missing someone who has died is very normal.  It can bring up other feelings, such as sadness or regret.  Many things may remind us of the person who died.  The memories may be painful at first.  With time, we usually feel less lonely and memories are less painful.