Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss

Losing a loved one can be the most stressful event in someone's life. Bereavement is the term used to identify the feeling you encounter after you lose someone you love. This term means, "to be deprived by death."

After the death, you may feel many emotions such as:

• Denial
• Disbelief
• Confusion
• Shock
• Sadness
• Yearning
• Anger
• Humiliation
• Despair
• Guilt

It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. You never stop missing your loved one, but the pain eases after time and allows you to move on with your life.

Mourning A Loved One

Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss. Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. It is important to express these emotions.

Dealing with a Major Loss

The death of a loved one is always difficult. Your reactions are influenced by the circumstances of a death, particularly when it is sudden or accidental. Your relationship with the person who died also influences your reactions.

A child's death arouses an overwhelming sense of injustice - for lost potential, unfulfilled dreams and senseless suffering. Parents may feel responsible for the child's death, no matter how irrational that may seem. Parents may also feel that they lost a vital part of their own identity.

A spouse's death is very traumatic. In addition to the severe emotional shock, the death may cause a potential financial crisis if the spouse was the family's main income source. The death may necessitate major social adjustments, requiring the surviving spouse to parent alone, adjust to single life and maybe even return to work.

Elderly people may be especially vulnerable when they lose a spouse because it means losing a lifetime of shared experiences. At this time, feelings of loneliness may be compounded by the death of close friends.

Suicide is among the most difficult losses to bear. Survivors feel a tremendous burden of guilt, anger and shame, and may even even feel responsible for the death. Seeking counseling during the first weeks after the suicide is particularly beneficial and advisable. 

Living with Grief

Coping with death is vital to your mental health. It is only natural to experience grief when a loved one dies. The best thing you can do is allow yourself to grieve. There are many ways to cope effectively with your pain.

Seek out caring people. Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.

Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.

Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief.

Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.

Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes, such as moving, remarrying, changing jobs or having another child. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss.

Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.

Seek outside help when necessary. If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It's a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.

Helping Others Grieve

If someone you care about has lost a loved one, you can help them through the grieving process.

Share the sorrow. Allow them - even encourage them - to talk about their feelings of loss and share memories of the deceased.

Don't offer false comfort.  It doesn't help the grieving person when you say "it was for the best" or "you'll get over it in time." Instead, offer a simple expression of sorrow and take time to listen.

Offer practical help. Baby-sitting, cooking and running errands are all ways to help someone who is in the midst of grieving.

Be patient. Remember that it can take a long time to recover from a major loss. Make yourself available to talk.

Encourage professional help when necessary. Don't hesitate to recommend professional help when you feel someone is experiencing too much pain to cope alone. 

Greif Resources

The Dougy Center - Provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults and their families grieving a death may share their experience. www.dougy.org

Highmark Caring Place- A center for grieving children, adolescents, and their families.

200 Warrendale Village Drive

Warrendale, PA 15086 

888-734-4073

www.highmarkcaringplace.com

 Where to Find Help 

If you or someone you know is in a crisis now, seek help immediately.

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) a 24-hour crisis center.
Or contact Pennsylvania- Mental Health America of Allegheny County to find local support groups.
  Address: 1945 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh , Pa 15219
  Phone: 412-391-3820
  Toll-Free: 877-391-3820
  Email: mha@mhaac.net

Resolve Crisis Network: 1.888.7.YOU CAN (1.888.796.8226)
www.upmc.com/resolvecrisis

  Counseling services are available at the college counseling center located in Bold Hall, 261 and 259 or by
  or call 412-847-2506.