It is when denial falls away, when you begin to recognize and experience
most intensely all the reactions to your loss, that the real work of
mourning begins. In ways that are personal and unique to you alone, you
will gradually integrate your loss into the framework of your life, as
you slowly give up the reality that included the physical presence of
your loved one.
Grief work can be done through private activities such as reading and
writing, and with others through talking, participating in bereavement
counseling or finding support in a group. It is an active rather than a
passive process, not only of coming to terms with your loss, but also of
finding meaning in it as well. Such
work takes enormous energy. It is both emotionally and physically
exhausting, and may well be the hardest work you’ll ever do, but it
can also produce tremendous healing and growth.
a Personal Support System
Think about and identify the people, groups and activities in
your life that form your personal network of support and help give
meaning to your life. Consider asking a friend or family member to help
you develop a more complete listing, especially if you don’t have the
energy to do this by yourself. Write down each potential source of
support, including their name, telephone number and address, so you’ll
have them handy when you need them.
People you can depend
on might include family members, relatives, friends, neighbors,
teachers, colleagues, clergy, your family physician, family lawyer,
accountant, insurance agent and hospice bereavement staff.
Groups might include
your church community or your affiliation with work or special interest
circles, clubs and organizations, and hospice bereavement
support groups. Activities include whatever brings you satisfaction,
relaxation, comfort or relief, such as meditating, writing or
journaling; engaging in hobbies (gardening, photography, collecting) or
arts and crafts (painting, drawing, modeling); listening to or making
music; or simply talking and crying.
Sometimes friends and
family may worry too much about you, get too involved in your personal
affairs, or not be available to you at all. When it seems that support
from family and friends is either too much or not enough, a few sessions
with a bereavement counselor may give you the understanding
and comfort you need.
Unlike friendship, a professional counseling relationship offers you the
opportunity to relate to a caring, supportive individual who understands
the grief process, doesn’t need you to depend upon, and will allow you
to mourn without interference. Within the safety and confidentiality of a
therapeutic relationship, you can share your intimate thoughts, make sense
of what you’re feeling and clarify your reactions. An effective
bereavement counselor is knowledgeable about the mourning process, helps
you feel understood, offers a witness to your experience, encourages you
to move forward, fosters faith that you will survive, and offers hope that
you will get through your grief.
Seeing a bereavement counselor is appropriate if
Support in a Group
Unfortunately friends, family members and co-workers may not fully
understand or appreciate the attachment you have with your loved one and
the pain you may still be feeling weeks and months after the death of your
loved one. What is more, your need to talk about your loss may outlast the
willingness of others to listen. So later in your mourning a support group
may be one of the few places where you can come to be among others who
understand, and where you can still talk about the one you have loved and
A bereavement support group provides a safe, structured place where normal, healthy people bound by the experience of loss can come together on a regular basis to share their stories, get their concerns and feelings validated, learn more about the grieving process, express and work through their feelings, and reflect with one another on the meaning of it all. Members have the opportunity to grow by giving help as well as receiving it.
How To Find Grief Support in Your Own Community
© by Martha M. Tousley,
RN, MS, FT, DCC All