Gary's Guidance: Dealing with Grief

November 2012

Dealing with Grief 

I was recently approached by a prominent elderly woman who resides in a personal care facility, and she wanted to know how I felt about the recent deaths of residents that we both knew.  Our discussion prompted me to write about dealing with grief.  Here are some defining characteristics of grief:

  • Grief is unique to each individual and therefore the processing of grief must be individualized
  • Death and grieving are part of the life-cycle
  • Death may trigger a reactive response in fearing that someone else who is close to you may die
  • Death puts one in touch with their own mortality

Things to Consider:

  • The timeline for coping, healing or gaining closure to loss will vary from person to person
  • It is ok to have different kinds of feelings related to the bereaved
  • How the person died or cause of death (i.e.: suddenly, protracted illness, violently) will influence how one grieves
  • How a person previously experienced or dealt with loss (including multiple losses) impacts grieving
  • Getting stuck in “role captivity” like when a person cannot get beyond suffering with grief – seek professional/ mental health help
  • One’s life style, rituals, and daily routines may be altered due to someone’s death
  • Your own health, emotional wellness, and cognitive abilities are factors in coping
  • One is put in touch with mortality, current health and daily affairs

Healing & Coping:

  • Allow feelings to flow-out for release; usually in the form of crying
  • Acknowledge any feelings of guilt, anger, fear, depression, denial, sorrow, disbelief, hopelessness, helplessness, awkwardness, and preoccupation of thoughts – they are all normal in respect to dealing when someone has passed
  • Share experiences, memories, wants and needs, desires, and hope
  • Forgive yourself or the deceased for any hurtfulness, mistakes, or other short comings
  • Normalize:  engage in regular routines and activities
  • Write a journal, poem, and positive memories
  • Allow for openness with others in sharing grief
  • Be emotionally prepared in expecting others not to understand your grief, or their passing judgment as to how you are coping
  • Take care of your practical needs such as eating, sleeping, exercising, socializing through time beyond the date(s) of when someone has died

Gary Kozick, LCSW

(215) 510-8901 •