Coping with Grief
Grief is a normal emotional and physical response that can occur when we have experienced a significant loss and/or change in our lives. The loss of someone we love can result in emotional responses such as disbelief, anger, guilt, depression and a feeling of emptiness. Physical symptoms can include sleeplessness, loss of concentration, the feeling of detachment, and numbness.
It can take anywhere from two to five years to readjust after the loss of a loved one. Each person will react in their own unique way. There are certain chemicals released by the grieving person, sometimes for months after the death, which is normal. These chemicals change the way we think and feel. Often a Birthday, Christmas and the first Anniversary of the death of a loved one are especially difficult times.
Children and Grief
Children from the ages of three to four are aware that someone is missing and need to be involved with the family in the funeral if they so choose. Children under the age of three need to be kept in their routine with primary care givers as much as possible. Older children will often outwardly copy adults in their grieving e.g. crying or not crying, while inwardly having their own grief reactions as individuals.
In times of grief, people need acceptance of their emotions for however long it takes for them to heal. Providing help with practical tasks such as shopping, cooking or minding children is very helpful for the person grieving. Often the grieving person is afraid that others are ‘sick of them’ and will not ask for help. Phone the grieving person on a regular basis, with their permission, just to show you care. Allow them to grieve in their own way.
Finding the Words
People who are grieving need to know you will not judge or devalue their feelings by using clichés such as ‘at least he didn’t suffer’. What you can say to a grieving person is something like ‘I wish I had the words to ease the pain you are going through right now’.
Grief and Loss Support Services
Talking things through with someone can help. Sometimes you might want to talk things through with someone you do not know. There are several telephone helplines available in Australia that can help you find ways to manage feelings of grief and loss.
If you are in an emergency, are in danger or have harmed yourself, call triple zero (000) for emergency services. If you are on a mobile phone, 112 is another emergency number that will connect you directly to emergency services.
If you need support and someone to talk to, you can access crisis support and counselling services 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week.
You can find someone to talk to through one of these helplines:
• Lifeline – call 13 11 14 for this Australia-wide crisis support and suicide prevention service.
• beyondblue – call 1300 224 636 for support for issues relating to anxiety and depression.
• Griefline is an Australia-wide grief helpline that offers free telephone, online and face-to-face grief counselling services.
Call 1300 845 745 to access anonymous and confidential telephone support.
Grief is like being on a roller-coaster, your emotions can change from day to day or even hour to hour. When grieving, we need to be kind to ourselves and not make judgements on our own
behaviour. If you find yourself having a good day, enjoy it, the next day could be completely different.
Be kind to yourself.
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