What is grief?
Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. It is a physical, mental, social, and spiritual process of adapting to a major change. Grief is a misunderstood mass of human emotion that we experience following any major change in a familiar pattern of behavior. The most immediate circumstance that comes to mind when we speak of grief is the death of a loved one. The feeling of reaching out to someone who has always been there and being met with the emotional emptiness of realizing they are no longer there.

How will I feel?
Grief is experienced by everyone in quite different ways. However, almost everyone who experiences grief will share a wide range of emotions, as well as some common thoughts and reactions. Your natural feelings and thoughts may include some of the following:

  • Extreme sorrow and longing, characterized by intense crying and painful physical emptiness.
  • Disbelief and anger, characterized by asking why and obsessing over the unfairness of life.
  • Obsessive regret, characterized by continually questioning and judging your past actions.
  • Mental confusion, characterized by the inability to be able to concentrate on anything.
  • Physical weakness characterized by the loss of appetite, anxiety, and sleeping problems.
  • Depression characterized by loneliness, helplessness, and hopelessness.

How long does grieving last?
Grief is a process of awareness and adjustment to a new identity and a new reality. The intensity and duration of the grieving process will vary greatly from person to person. The grief process does not follow a timetable. However, it can be somewhat like a rollercoaster ride in the sense of the emotional mood swings and varying states of mind from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, and week to week.

What can be done to help?
Your well-being needs to become your most important priority. Two of the most difficult realities that you will need to accept are that a loved one has died and your reality, as you once knew it, has changed. This acceptance begins the journey toward healing. One of the values of the funeral process is that it creates a psychological awareness of the reality of death. There are several steps you can take initially to help you during your gradual adjustment to your new life and identity.

  • Express your emotions, thoughts, and feelings to yourself and others openly, honestly, and often.
  • Call and visit your family and friends whenever you need to talk with them.
  • Establish a daily schedule that requires you to do some small activities.
  • Minimize and defer to a future date, any major decisions.
  • Place no time-recovery expectations upon yourself.

We can help by lending grief support material and referring grief support groups. Visit our grief support page; there, you can find links to help you find grief support groups or further understand the grieving process.

A lighthouse on the beach with sand and grass

GRIEF SUPPORT – is a helpful site that not only helps you find support groups in your county, but is also very informative about coping with different types of loss for every age. – is a private, non-profit education and referral center offering a range of counseling services. Located in Westmont, NJ, they are a helpful source for finding a one-on-one grief counselor or grief support group. – offers bereavement support groups and counseling, not only for family members who were on hospice, but for anyone who has experienced a loss.