Frequently Asked Questions about Grief and Bereavement
How long does grief last?
There is no timeline for grief. It lasts as long as it lasts and is different for each person. Some things that may affect the depth and length of your grief include: the nature of your relationship with the person who died, the amount of support you have in your life, your past history with coping with grief, and your age. One way to think about grief is to compare it to a deep wound or cut. Eventually it heals and ceases to hurt so much, but it leaves a scar that you will carry with you forever.
What are some things I can do that will help me feel better?
Let yourself cry. Tears are your body’s way of releasing the hurt.
Find someone to share your feelings with – a friend, family member, spiritual leader, counselor, support group.
Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep and exercise and eating nutritiously. Avoid using alcohol or other medication to mask your feelings.
Write your feelings down. A journal can be a safe place to express your feelings or you may want to consider writing a ‘letter’ to your loved.
Use rituals. Rituals or spiritual practices such as memorial services, prayer/meditation, lighting a candle, or planting a tree, can help you express feelings of grief and feel connected to your loved one.
I am feeling angry. Is this normal?
There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ feelings of grief. Feelings that we commonly name as negative are often part of the grieving process. You may feel angry that your loved one died and left you alone or that s/he left with unfinished business. You may be angry at the medical profession for letting you down or even angry at yourself for things you did or did not do. These feelings do not mean that you are ‘going crazy’ or are being disrespectful to your loved one. Acknowledging and talking about these feelings with a close friend or counselor can help you resolve them.
How do I know if I need to seek professional help?
Sadness is a natural part of grieving. But a prolonged and lasting depression is a medical condition that requires medical attention. Some warning signs include: significant lack of energy, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, withdrawing from friends and family, sense of guilt and worthlessness nearly all the time, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. It is important to seek medical help from a doctor and/or mental health professional if you or someone you know continually shows these signs.
What happens in a grief support group?
The adult support groups at Hospice of San Joaquin are intended to be a safe place for those who are grieving to come and learn coping skills, share feelings related to grief, and meet other people who are going through a similar experience. Groups are led by Hospice of San Joaquin staff and volunteers. Each meeting consists of a time of learning about grief and a time of sharing. Although the groups are not a ‘quick fix’ for grief, most participants find the 6 week group to be very helpful.
Do children grieve differently than adults?
When children experience the death of a loved one, they grieve, just as adults do. However, they may not be able to verbalize their grief. They may repress feelings or may express them through their behavior. They may need to mourn a deeply felt loss on and off as they mature into adulthood.
Younger children may seem indifferent at times as they have a shorter ‘sadness attention span.’ Older children may have questions about the practical aspects of death such as wondering “What happens to the body?” Answer your child’s questions honestly and in a way that is appropriate for their age level.
Ask for help! Your family doctor, a member of the clergy, or a bereavement counselor can help you address concerns that are specific to your family.
Where else can I go for help?
You may contact Carrie Lane, Bereavement Manager at Hospice of San Joaquin (209) 957-3888
or you may visit http://www.hospicefoundation.org/grief