Understanding Your Feelings Beyond Tomorrow

Sherry Williams, Grief Specialist, provides insight into the many feelings and reactions to grief. She shares simple and easy coping strategies that will help you can gain a sense of control in your life as you develop a new normal.

by Sherry Williams White

The death of a loved one, a friend or a family member is an event in our lives that very often puts each of us in touch with our own thoughts and feelings about mortality. All of a sudden we realize how quickly life can end. We may experience strong feelings of unreality. It is also very normal to feel out of control and overwhelmed.

Realize that you are grieving. Grief is the natural, normal, but necessary response to loss. Grief is a physical, social, emotional, psychological and spiritual reaction. It may cause a variety of reactions including irritability, inability to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time. Your appetite may be altered causing you to feel hungry or you may not want to eat at all. It is also normal to experience feelings of anxiousness. Your heart may feel like it is racing and you may feel that you can't catch your breath. You may feel empty and hollow inside and find it difficult to concentrate on things. Grief can make you feel helpless, angry and frightened. So, be patient with yourself and others around you. Grief takes time. You can't go around it. You can't go over it, you have to go straight through it!

It is normal to feel out of control. You cannot change the situation. You can not bring the person back. Your whole world has changed and seems to be changing more with each passing moment and you may feel vulnerable. Seek out as much information as you can about grief. Through information we gain a sense of understanding and through understanding, we gain a sense of control. 

It is important at this time to do things that can give you back some sense of control over what is happening to you. You will be faced with making many decisions regarding your future, both personal and financial. Begin by taking things slowly, and handle small projects and small increments of time. This will help to build your confidence and show you that you are making progress.

Acknowledge your feelings. Grief can be confusing because you may experience multiple feelings at once. Find someone compassionate and caring who will listen and provide support for you. Remember, there are no right or wrong feelings in grief, there are just your feelings.

Take care of yourself. Be sure to eat properly and get enough rest and exercise. You might try some deep breathing exercises or relaxation techniques. You can find relaxation tapes in many of your local bookstores.

Don't rush into things. Put the clothes away when you are ready. And only you'll know when you are ready. Everyone has his or her own time frame. 

Don't rush to move or try to get away from everything. There are so many things changing around you and it is very easy to make a decision that you may later regret. 

Take your time with major decisions. 

Reach out to others.

Learn to ask for what you need. Your family and friends want to help, they are just uncertain about what to do. Turn to people you can trust for support and for information.

Get your life and finances in order. Change insurance beneficiaries. Check your health policies. You may want to discuss your own funeral arrangements with your family and funeral director. Taking care of life's "paperwork" often helps restore a sense of control and peace of mind.

It is important to remember that you do not stop loving someone just because they died. Your loved one is now and will always be a part of who you are and who you are becoming.

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