Facing Emotions

Working through your grief means facing emotions honestly and openly. The intensity and the unexpected nature of some of the feelings that you experience may surprise or even frighten you. Most, if not all of these, such as sorrow, pain , guilt, anger, self-pity, are faced by every survivor. It is all right to feel the way you do, but you do need to express your emotions, whatever they may be, in order to work through them so that they do not control you.

As you emerge from the period of shock immediately following the death of your loved one, a deeper awareness of your loss may cause these feelings to be more painful than they were before. The finality of death is becoming a reality for you. It has truly been said that experiencing bereavement is like being on a roller coaster - you do not stay put but are constantly going up or down.

As the survivor of a spouse, loneliness may seem unbearable; a bereaved parent is often overcome by a sense of failure; a child of any age may experience the loss of a parent as an unexpectedly bewildering and painful absence of life-long support - someone who had always been there is gone. In all severed relationships, the thought of a future without the loved one can be frightening. If you are a survivor with children to care for at the same time that you are struggling to regain your own equilibrium, you have an added daily responsibility that you may feel unable to bear. Unexpected anger toward your loved one, toward God, toward medical staff, friends, or family members may surface. Feelings of guilt about what you did or did not do in the past may arise. Periods of deep depression or a preoccupation with death may seem to be endless. These are all normal reactions, experienced to varying degrees by most survivors. Each of your reactions need to be acknowledged and dealt with, for trying to ignore or deny these powerful emotions will only lead to trouble later. It is important to seek someone - a trusted friend, a support group of other survivors, a counselor - with whom you can truly share your feelings and find your way to a resolution that will allow you to accept what has happened and give you the courage to go on with your life.