The death of a family member is one of the most difficult experiences life has to offer. Grief does not begin when your loved one is physically gone. It often begins with the many changes and feelings experienced through diagnosis, illness, terminal prognosis and eventually death itself.
Depending on the nature of the illness, feelings of helplessness, resentment, guilt, anxiety and sadness can become overwhelming thoughts.
Grief is a necessary and natural process when coming to acknowledge, accept and heal from the loss of a loved one.
There is a difference between grief and mourning. Grief is the internal expression of loss. The thoughts and feelings experienced within yourself. Mourning is the outward expression of grief. Crying and celebrating memories are expressions of mourning.
Your grief is unique to you. Similar to DNA or fingerprints, no two people will grieve or mourn the same way. Members of the same family will cope in a variety of ways that best suits them. With this being said, you must reserve your own judgment as well. Oftentimes, you must grieve alone however, mourning is necessary so that you are not alone.
Grief affects you in many ways - both physically and psychologically. Do not underestimate the effects of grief as you prepare for the loss of a loved one.
Anticipatory grief surfaces as a result of impending loss. Loss of a companion, changing family dynamics and the loss of "what could have been" contribute to the anxiety and fear of what's to come. By recognizing the anticipatory phase, you are taking control of your journey.
You will not "get over" the loss but simply learn to "get through" it. You adjust to a new normal and learn to incorporate the grief into your everyday life.
Allow yourself to grieve. Surround yourself with the love and support of trusted family and friends. Repressed emotions can add to the physical and psychological effects, thus worsening the situation.
Some tips on coping:
- Pre-arranging and educating yourself on the end-of-life process
- Pet loss support
- Ensuring that you are taking care of YOU.