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Adult Bereavement

Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional and heartfelt emptiness we feel when someone we love has died.  If you feel the need for bereavement support, it is important to reach out for assistance.  Please know you are not alone in your journey through grief. Help is available to you and your loved ones. Below you will find helpful information and bereavement resources

A Journey Through Grief to Healing Series

Coping with Grief and Loss

As a griever, you have rights no one should violate or take away from you. Living through grief is an important part of healing. The grieving path is different for each one of us and your path is something no one has the right to impede upon. Your pathway through grief is what you need to experience in order to find your way through grief and on to living a full life after the loss of someone you love. Below is a list of your rights meant to empower you in your journey through the healing process. This list is intended to enable you to understand the importance of your right to grieve.

The Grieving Person's Bill of Rights

  1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief. No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do.
  2. You have the right to talk about your grief. Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want, about your grief.
  3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions. Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey. Find listeners who will accept your feelings without conditions.
  4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits. Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals.
  5. You have the right to experience grief "attacks". Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can frightening, but is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.
  6. You have the right to make use of rituals. The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More important, the funeral is a way for you to mourn.
  7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality. If faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry at God, find someone to talk with who won't be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.
  8. You have the right to search for meaning. You may find yourself asking "Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?" Some of your questions may have answers, but some may not.
  9. You have the right to treasure your memories. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.
  10. You have the right to move towards your grief and heal. Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself.

 © By Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition, Ft. Collins, CO

Grief and Clinical Depression

Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy as they share many symptoms, but there are ways to tell the difference. Remember, grief can be a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.

Other symptoms that suggest depression, not just grief:

  • Intense, pervasive sense of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Slow speech and body movements
  • Inability to function at work, home, and/or school
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there

It’s normal to feel sad, numb, or angry following a loss. But as time passes, these emotions should become less intense as you accept the loss and start to move forward. If you aren’t feeling better over time, or your grief is getting worse, it may be a sign that your grief has developed into a more serious problem, such as complicated grief or major depression.

Complicated grief

The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain center stage. If the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it keeps you from resuming your life, you may be suffering from a condition known as complicated grief. Complicated grief is like being stuck in an intense state of mourning. You may have trouble accepting the death long after it has occurred or be so preoccupied with the person who died that it disrupts your daily routine and undermines your other relationships.

Symptoms of complicated grief include:

  • Intense longing and yearning for the deceased
  • Intrusive thoughts or images of your loved one
  • Denial of the death or sense of disbelief
  • Imagining that your loved one is alive
  • Searching for the person in familiar places
  • Avoiding things that remind you of your loved one
  • Extreme anger or bitterness over the loss
  • Feeling that life is empty or meaningless

If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of complicated grief, please know there is help available. Acknowledging your need for bereavement support is an important step toward healing. Contact your local hospice provider to find out about bereavement services or you may call UF Health at 352-265-0224 and ask to speak with the Palliative Care Social Worker.