The death of a loved one brings shock and grief–no matter how well prepared you are. All death is sudden, even when it’s expected. If you’ve provided care to an aging or ill family member, the emotions of loss can sometimes be overwhelming.
Common reactions you may have after a loss include:
- Shock is probably one of the first things you’ll feel after the death of a family member. This stage often includes panic, denial and disbelief.
- Awareness that the loss is permanent after the shock has worn off. You may not be able to talk about your grief because expressing your emotions is too painful. Feelings such as anger, guilt, shame and fear are common.
- Anger is a natural part of grief. At this stage, you might choose to spend time alone, away from anything or anyone that could further add to your stress.
- The healing process usually starts after the anger fades. You’ll feel less overwhelmed by your emotions and will find yourself slowly gaining more energy and hope. At this time, you may still occasionally feel depressed, but this is only temporary. The on-and-off sadness is usually sparked by something that reminds you of your loved one. You’ll learn how to cope with individual situations.
- Lastly, you’ll begin the renewal process. You’ll find yourself ‘going on with life,’ establishing new goals and forming a new identity, separate from the one you had with the person you lost.
But how can I help myself deal with my loss?
- Vent your feelings: Talk to a friend or another family member about your loss. Even writing down your feelings can bring relief.
- Join a support group: People usually find it helpful to be with others who are going through a similar loss.
- Learn about grief: The feelings experienced during a loss can be frightening. Oftentimes, feelings are less scary when you realize they’re common. It may be helpful to read books about loss or discuss your grief with a counsellor or doctor.
Still think you may need some help? Family Service Toronto offers counselling and can provide ways to help when dealing with loss and grief.