Grief has no timetable, knows no bounds
By Phyllis Montero
Cemetery Administration Manager
Grief is painful and during the grieving process that pain can be nearly unbearable. The length and difficulty of the grieving process varies with each unique situation: the relationship with the person who died, the circumstances of the death and how survivors handle life situations.
Always realize that grief has no timetable. It is cyclical. The emotions come and go for weeks, months and years. Understanding the emotions of grief is an important step in the healing process. The most common reactions to the death of a loved one are: shock, denial, anger, guilt, sadness, and finally acceptance.
During the grieving process the reactions can be felt in this order. Most often, however, they are felt at the same time but in varying degrees. Each of these feelings is a normal part of the process of grieving. Shock and denial are nature’s way of softening the immediate blow of death. There is a numbing sense and the survivors go through the motions of life while actually feeling little. Anger, too, is a normal reaction. At times it can be even be directed at the deceased for leaving. People of faith may direct their anger at God for allowing so much pain. Guilt is often expressed in the form of a question: “Could I have done more?” At the death of a loved one, sadness is not only normal but inevitable. It is also normal to feel alone and afraid.
Finally comes the sense of acceptance. Time alone does not heal grief but acknowledging the loss and experiencing the pain may free the survivor from the yearning. Accepting life without the loved one may lead the way to a new perspective about the future. It is very important to take care of yourself during the grieving process and know that the emotions you feel are normal.
You may choose to find a bereavement support group to help you through the process. These groups offer a safe environment where you will learn to recognize and understand the normal signs of grief. You will be able to share your story with others who have experienced a loss and you will learn to develop and enhance healthy ways of coping. Several parishes have bereavement ministries, either directly or through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Please consult your parish directory.
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