You grieve mentally, physically and spiritually. Many of us experience a similar cycle when grieving — they are common steps we use to help heal. Some people skip steps.
||When the pain is too great, we temporarily shut down. You feel so numb you act as though nothing happened.
||Your emotions suddenly break out —it seems to hit at once.
||You’ll get angry angry: it’s unfair, someone should have changed things, you don’t understand why. You may even be angry at who you’ve lost for deserting you.
||Illness and stress go hand in hand. Don’t be surprised if you’re sick.
||You worry you’ll never get over the loss, that you’ve lost yourself. You wonder if what you’re going through is normal.
||We try to find something to blame. If there is no one to blame, we blame ourselves. Feeling as though it’s your fault seems more bearable than there being no reason at all.
||You find yourself avoiding others, feeling as though they can’t understand. You withdraw from friends and family.
||You want to move on, but can’t yet. You feel loyalty to the memory of who you lost, and worry moving on would be abandoning them.
||You don’t know when, but one day, you notice you’re doing better. You feel like a fog has lifted. You begin to think you’ll be ok again someday.
||You reconstruct your life, using the new strengths you’ve gained from grieving.
The greatest distress most of us ever have to survive is the death of a loved one. Grief is the process we go through when we are recovering from a loss. It can be a major or minor, and the amount of grief experienced by each person will vary. Some losses are simply more painful than others.
If you are going through the grieving process, allow it to happen. You need time to recover from the injury. If you were suffering from an illness, you would give yourself some time off. Death isn’t any different. Take your time; find other things in life to focus on, to spend your love and energy on. This is not to say you will ever, ever replace the person you lost. You will learn to accept your new normal. There is no replacing a loved one — people aren’t things. You need an outlet for your stress energy. Let yourself lean on friends and family; join a support group if you need to. Don’t be afraid to reach out during this difficult time.
You will never get over your loss. You will always love and miss the person who is gone, but you can and must accept their passing and move on. You are forever changed, but you continue on with a new strength and purpose, becoming a stronger person who experiences life on a deeper level.
*Click here for Grief Resources from Whole Person.
by Amy Nuelk
An activity for sharing feelings when a child loses a loved one
From Children and Stress by Marty Loy
Emotions and feelings are an integral part of everyday life. When children lose a loved one, they may feel very sad or even angry about the situation. This activity is designed to allow children to recall memories they have about a recently deceased loved one through
story telling and discussion with others who are experiencing a similar situation.
After participating in Emotion Masks, children will be able to:
• Openly discuss memories they have about a lost loved one .
• Effectively relieve stress children may be feeling as a result of the death of a loved one.
• Recognize that others in similar situations may be experiencing the same emotions.
TIME 30–45 minutes
Old magazines, scissors, glue, paper plates (3 per child), Popsicle sticks.
DESCRIPTION AND PROCESS
The children are asked to recall three diﬀerent emotions. Have them look through
magazines and cut out pictures that illustrate each of the three emotions. Each picture is
glued to one of the three paper plates, which will become emotion masks. The children
are invited to share a personal story or experience they had with the deceased loved one
that involves each of the three emotions.
1. Each child receives three paper plates and three Popsicle sticks
2. The children look through magazines and ﬁnd a picture that portrays each of three
distinct emotions (For example: anger, sadness, joy, etc.)
3. Glue each picture to a paper plate and glue a Popsicle stick to the back of each plate
4. The children are invited to share each of their emotion masks and discuss why each
emotion was chosen. They can also describe an experience they had with the deceased
loved one that included that emotion (For example: “I was always really happy when
Grandma and I used to bake chocolate chip cookies together.”)
5. Allow time for participants to engage in discussion with others.
• What did you learn by participating in this activity?
• Describe how you feel today about the memories you shared with your loved one.
• Who, if anybody, do you talk to during times when you are experiencing
emotions related to losing your loved one?
• Discuss how you could help a friend cope with losing a loved one.
If you’re interested in more exercises from the book Children & Stress by author Marty Loy, PHD, click here.