Grief and Healing

Some people believe that it is ‘weak’ to grieve. The truth is exactly the opposite – grief is a natural human response to death and loss. The pain is real and, for some people, it can at times be overwhelming. At Heavenly Celebration Funerals, we have held many a hand, and helped those people who have lost love ones to understand that there is no quick fix to grief. It is best dealt with naturally, and only time will lessen the intensity of loss.

Here are some answers to questions we are often asked.

What, exactly, is grief?
Grief is a response to loss, which involves physiological, emotional and spiritual reactions that are beyond the control of the individual experiencing it.

How do people grieve?
Everyone grieves differently. Some people cry or scream. Some people completely withdraw into themselves and become quiet. Some want to be surrounded by people and keep busy. Others seek solitude and cannot achieve anything.

What is happening when I have certain feelings?
There are a myriad of feelings that you may have after the loss of a loved one. Here is an overview to what you (or someone close to you) may be going through.

What is shock?
Shock takes many forms. If you feel numb, or stunned following the loss of a loved one, you are most likely experiencing shock. Shock is an extremely common reaction to death (even when the death has been expected). Other forms of shock might find you unable to stay still, or to ‘think straight’.

Why do I feel angry?
Another common reaction to death is to feel angry. You may even feel rage. It may be about something specific, such as words that were left unsaid, or the way in which a person died. Some people become angry at a higher authority, or, for being left behind with unresolved issues or decisions.

Whatever form of anger someone experiences, please rest assured that it is natural and will eventually pass.

How long will I feel sad for?
Naturally, sadness is the most common response to death. Feeling alone or lost, sorrow can well up from deep inside and affect every part of a person’s life for days, weeks, months – even years.

What other feelings can I expect?
Fear, guilt, denial, numbness, relief and disbelief are all normal. In fact, it’s very common to feel a variety of different emotions, sometimes changing from day to day – sometimes experiencing several in one day.

What can I do to help myself get over my emotions?
Don’t fight it. In the beginning, you need to give yourself room to grieve – in fact, if you don’t allow yourself to go through a natural process, you’ll delay your recovery. Because extreme feelings often make it difficult to make a rational decision, drawing on the strength and resources of others is important.

Professional grief counseling is often useful, especially in cases of extreme or extended periods.

How can I help someone who is grieving?
Listening is the single most important gift that you can offer someone. Let then know they can grieve without being judged or criticized. We can show compassion by helping them with tasks at hand. It could be as simple as making a meal or watching children. It could be helping with arrangements, notifying other people of what has occurred or helping them with medical requirements.

It’s common for people to taper off contact with someone who has lost a loved one – after all, you have responsibilities of your own. However, it’s worth taking a bit of time to make contact on a regular basis months later. These are the times when people will need you the most.

What if Professional Support is necessary?
There are a number of resources:

Bereavement Care Centre. The Bereavement CARE centre provides grief counselling for adult and children.Call 1300 654 556 or  visit http://www.bereavementcare.com.au

Grief Link. A resource on death-related grief for the community and professionals  http://www.grieflink.asn.au

Lifeline. 24 hour telephone support. Call 13 11 14 or visit http://www.lifeline.org.au.

Kids’ Helpline. Telephone and online councelling service specifically for people aged between 5 and 25.
 Call 1800 551 800 or visit http://www.kidshelp.com.au

Grief Support (NSW). A non-profit organisation & registered charity. Call (02) 9489 6644 or http://www.griefsupport.com.au

Compassionate Friends. Self help for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. Call (02) 9290 2355 or visit  http://www.thecompassionatefriends.org.au