Handling Grief After the Loss of a Loved One
Aug. 15, 2023
By: Wendy Tabor-Buth
Life after loss
Whatever type of loss you’ve suffered, there’s no right or wrong way to handle grief after the loss of a loved one. Grief is a normal and natural response to the death of a loved one. Grieving is a highly individual experience, and your grief reactions can depend on many factors.
6 Factors affecting your grief response
1. Supports in your life
Family, friends, co-workers, your faith, spirituality, and other things can be great sources of support and comfort in your grief. Some may be more emotionally supportive, and others may offer more tangible support, such as helping with home maintenance, grocery shopping, or transportation. Those who care about you want to help you in this time of loss, but may not know what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask.
2. Physical health
The stress of grief can cause physical reactions such as issues with sleep, appetite, concentration, headaches, stomach aches, muscular aches, or tightness in the chest. While these can be common grief reactions they should be checked out by a physician.
3. Current life stress
You may be dealing with other stresses in life at the time of your loss. Stresses related to financial hardship, employment, relationships, physical or mental health concerns, or caregiving for others to name a few. Life stressors can be overwhelming and when someone you love passes away your grief may be more complicated.
4. Your relationship with the person who passed away
Naturally for most people, the more intimate the relationship with your loved one, the more difficult the grief reactions are.
5. Past coping skills
Previous life experiences can influence how you grieve or whether you are able to give yourself “permission” to grieve. Maybe you were taught at a young age not to show any emotions or to cry. It is important to surround yourself with individuals who allow a safe space to express emotions and grieve openly.
6. Nature of the death
Was your loss sudden or expected? In a sudden loss, and no goodbye, there can be a sense that there was not enough said. When a loved one passes away from illness, there can still be not enough said; talking about death is not easy and often not spoken about. It’s important to allow yourself to know that although the words were not spoken, they were felt within the love that was shared. Try not to compare your loss with others or minimize your loss. Your grief journey is your own.
Why it’s important to give yourself time
Grieving a loss can bring about a wave of emotions, affecting spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical health. Although we all experience grief, everyone’s reaction is unique. Because every person walks their own path through grief and healing, there are no rules, time limits or “right” ways to grieve.
Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can't be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for handling grief after the loss of a loved one. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Even family members who are experiencing the same loss will have different reactions and experiences. Whatever your grief experiences, it's important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Grief Support with Ethos Hospice
At Ethos Hospice, our support for families doesn’t end when a loved one passes away. Our bereavement team offers ongoing support as you navigate your own personal grief journey. Ethos provides grief support to the communities we serve, regardless of if your loved one was served by Ethos Hospice, as we are committed to the health and well-being of our communities.
Ethos Hospice offers monthly support groups in Fargo and Grand Forks. Visit our bereavement page for details and additional grief resources.
For more information, call (701) 515-0240 to speak with a member of the bereavement team.