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Grief is not a sign of weakness or lack of character. Grieving and healing can go hand in hand.

Respect the experience of grief, and give it the time it needs to help you move through your transition. Rather than approaching grief as a problem to be solved, allow yourself to acknowledge and feel your emotions as part of the healing process.

Grief can bring a wide range of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Your experience of grief will depend upon your personality, the nature of your relationship with the person who died, what else may be going on in your life at the moment, and whether the death was expected or a complete surprise.

Emotions and Grief

When you are grieving, you may feel a wide range of emotions: shock, numbness, anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness, loneliness or despair. You may also experience feelings of relief, peace, happiness, or a sense of freedom. Your emotions could shift from day to day, or even hour to hour.

If an elderly parent has died, you may feel relief that their discomfort is over and that you no longer need to care for their many needs. Then you could feel guilt that you are feeling relief about their death. Next you could feel regret thinking about things you might have done better. Then you could simply miss their presence very, very deeply.

The Body and Grief

Grief is as profoundly physical as it is emotional. Physical expressions of grief can include low energy, a feeling of lethargy, and change in your appetite. You might feel tightness or pain in the stomach, back and chest muscles. Grief can even alter the daily rhythms of breathing, circulation and sleep patterns.

Grief can also suppress the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Or if you have a chronic health condition, you may notice an increase in your symptoms. This makes it especially important for you to take good care of yourself when there is a death in your life. You may need more rest, less pressure, and opportunities to get out and have new experiences.

The Mind and Grief

During the experience of grief, it’s possible that you could lose interest in some things that used to bring you pleasure. You may have trouble concentrating, or feel at times like the mind is whirling. You may have a drop in productivity at work, or find it more difficult to accomplish routine tasks at home.

Taking the time to sit down and write about your feelings may help you sort out your thoughts and feel more in control. Later on, you can go back to read what you’ve written and get some perspective on your progress.

Getting Help

The most important thing is, don’t go it alone. When you are grieving, you may feel hesitant to get out and see friends, or even go to work. While you may need to some time to yourself, you also need to stay connected to other people. Call upon your support team – friends, family, hospice providers, professional counselors, and religious leaders.

If at any time you feel overwhelmed by the experience of grief, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, it is vital that you seek out those who can help and support you. And if you don’t have the energy to do it yourself, at the very least ask a trusted friend or family member to look into and organize the help you need.

Moving Beyond Grief

Support from others, taking care of yourself, and the passage of time are all helpful in handling grief. Resolving your grief may include coming to peace with the reality that someone close to you is gone, learning to move through your day-to-day life without them, and finding new relationships that help satisfy needs that were fulfilled by the person who has died.

Always remember: You are not the first one to experience all this. Death has been a part of every community and every culture for thousands of years. Although your experience of loss is unique, it is part of a larger experience shared by nearly everyone who has ever lived on this earth.

Death is a part of life. It can offer gifts to you even as it takes away. It can open a new doors of understanding, wisdom, and enjoyment of life.

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