1. Grief is a natural and spontaneous response to loss. It is a process – not a disease – that affects us emotionally, behaviorally, physically and spiritually.
  2. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. Often bereaved individuals will speak of feeling “as if I have lost my right arm.” Remember that your psyche and spirit are adjusting to your loss and all its implications. Giving yourself permission to feel the pain is part of the healing process.
  3. Your body is also affected by your loss. You may experience physical symptoms of grieving, such as digestive upsets, changes in your sleeping and eating patterns, headaches, and increased susceptibility to infections.
  4. It is common to find that you may have just enough energy for the most basic and necessary everyday tasks – and sometimes not even that. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Grief work is unconscious and internal and takes enormous amounts of energy.
  5. Don’t be surprised if you feel as if your brain is wrapped in cotton batting. This is a protective layer of grief. Gradually, as your energy level improves, your cognitive abilities will return to their normal sharpness. In the meantime, it is wise to avoid making any major decisions.
  6. Some bereaved individuals express their grief through tears, while others cannot cry. Crying, however, does relieve some physical and emotional pressure. If you cannot cry, just know that that is probably the norm for you. Your grief can be expressed in other ways.
  7. It is not unusual to feel suicidal or question God about why this has happened to you. If these feelings continue for an extended period of time, it is important to talk them over with a professional.
  8. You may feel a need to tell and re-tell your story to anyone who will listen. Your friends may tire of listening and want you to “move on” or “get over it.” Joining a grief support group or seeking individual counseling may be helpful and provide additional support.
  9. Remember that you cannot change the events of what happened to you. However, also remember that you can make choices about your life situation now and how you will help yourself.
  10. Others may tell you that time will heal. Time alone will not heal, but what you do during the passage of time will help.
  11. Your life is changed, not ended. It will never return to what you once knew. Remembering that at the most difficult moments may help you realize that the process of grief is truly about finding meaning and purpose again in life.

© Lyn Miletich, MPM 2001

Lyn Miletich, MPM, is a writer, trainer, and consultant specializing in the various transitions throughout the life cycle. She holds a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry and is a registered counselor in Washington State.