Our emotions are screaming, our minds are whirling, and we may even think we are going crazy. There is physical, emotional and perhaps spiritual pain as we contemplate the loss. Intense emotions are natural, and we should not be frightened by them. God created us with emotions and therefore, they are a normal expression of the feelings we may experience.
Not everyone will experience grief in the same manner. Some of us are more emotional and some more stoic in our grief. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and each person touched by the loss will grieve in their own way based on their relationship with the loved one. The suddenness or an anticipated death may cause us to react differently. The cause of death can also influence our feelings. Whether the death was an accident, from illness, suicide or murder will have an effect on our feelings.
It is not our place to judge how someone is reacting to a loss. Some may cry and some may be unable to shed a tear, some may jump into the role of caring and supporting others, and some may feel as if they are in a fog unable to carry out daily tasks.
So how do we respond to those in grief? Our presence and a hug may be sufficient. If you see a need such as buying groceries, attending to children or pets or providing a meal, ask if you might help. Offer a listening ear without advice and allow them to genuinely express their feelings and for them to talk about their loved one. Stay away from pat answers like “It’s God’s will” or “it was for the best”. It is up to the grieving person to find how they want to understand their loss.
Grief will find each one of us eventually. It is the completion of the circle of life. Psychiatrist, Carl Jung said, “There is no coming to life without pain.” Grief is a painful journey, but memories, love and comfort from others will allow us to grow and use our experience to help others in their journey."
Penny Zielinski, LCSW
Bereavement Counselor for AIM Hospice in Rockport