Grief is a normal part of life and a natural response to loss. When you are actively grieving, you can feel very different from your usual self in your emotions, mind, and reactions. It is possible that you are having intense feelings and emotions that you have never felt before.

People experience grief differently. How you grieve may be unique to your personality, your past history of coping with loss, and the relationship that you had with the person who died. Each person will grieve in their own way and with their own timetable.

There are three general phases to help understand your grief:

When the Death Occurs

  • You may feel shock, numbness, and disbelief that this has happened.
  • Panic and strong physical and emotional reactions are common.

Adjusting to the Death

  • Later, as the numbness subsides, you will deal with what this loss means to you and the emotional pain of grieving.
  • The intensity of feeling may surprise or scare you, but it is natural and can be resolved as you move through it.

As Life Goes On

  • As you move through your grief and adjust to life without the person who died, you will begin to re-establish connections with the world around you.
  • You will begin to have more energy for family and friends, work and other interests.

As you journey along the path of grief, you will find that your feelings and responses may vary at different times and phases of the process. There will be unpredictable ups and downs that may be likened to waves of grief and as good days and bad daysDespite what you may hear about “getting over it” or “the first year”, there are no time lines for grief; it takes as long as it takes. Your grief journey may be shorter or longer than you or others expected. This loss will certainly continue to be part of your life and you will always have times when you think about, miss, and grieve for the person who died.

When a Death Occurs

  • Pace yourself moment to moment
  • Don’t make big impulsive decisions
  • Talk about the person and the death
  • Use practical and emotional supports
  • Adjusting to the Death
  • Recognize and express your emotions
  • Do what feels right for you not what others tell you is right for you.
  • Acknowledge the changes
  • Be gentle and patient with yourself as you grieve
  • Understand grief and connect with others who have had similar losses
  • If you are concerned about yourself and your grief, seek professional support and counselling.
  • As life goes on
  • Engage in new activities
  • Establish a routine that promotes good health and connections with others
  • Begin to make new plans for your future
  • Establish new roles and new relationships
  • It is really important that we are all aware of our own understanding and coping with loss and grief before we try to help others.
  • Be genuine by being yourself.
  • Acknowledge the loss as soon as you can after you get the news.
  • Get good information about grief so that you understand the normal responses and phases of grief.
  • Be willing to open the subject and to mention the name of the person who died.
  • Listen to the bereaved person.
  • Accept that you cannot take the hurt and sadness away. Reach out to offer support.
  • Be patient.
  • Understand that everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace.
  • Expect that your own grief may be triggered.