Cheat Sheet

Grieving For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Grieving For Dummies

By Greg Harvey

Mourning the loss of a loved one is a long, difficult process. This is true for the person grieving, as well as the loved ones of the person grieving. Unfortunately, loss is often misunderstood and comes with complicated, overwhelming emotions. The best thing you can do is to try to understand what is happening and how your life or the life of your loved one will be changed as a result of the loss.

The 2 Fundamental Facts of Grieving

Unfortunately, the loss of a loved one is something that everyone experiences. Despite this irrefutable fact, grief is something that is widely misunderstood and is often an uncomfortable situation. This is probably due to the fact that people generally don’t like to be reminded of their own mortality. Regardless of these unsavory emotions, it’s important to remember two fundamental facts about the grieving process.

If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, you need to remember these two things as you go through your grieving process:

  • You’re not going crazy — losing a loved one just hurts that much!

  • Your grief will end in time.

The 3 Basic Tasks of Grieving

The grieving process is a unique experience for each individual person. You may see different models of mourning as presented by various grieving professionals. These models provide people with ways of viewing and understanding their grief, but are by no means applicable to every person or situation.

The grieving process is different for everyone. If your situation doesn’t fit into a prescribed model, don’t worry. Everyone experiences loss in their own way.

Here are the three fundamental tasks of grieving the loss of a loved one:

  1. Acknowledge the loss.

  2. Experience the grief that the loss produces.

  3. Incorporate the loss into the rest of your life.

The Mourner’s Bill of Rights

Grieving is a difficult process in any situation. As someone suffering from the loss of a loved one, you may feel as though you are not handling the situation like you should or would like to. While people are generally well meaning, you will often get loads of advice about how you “should” handle your own grief. Just remember, you have a right to your own feelings.

As someone grieving a profound loss, remember that you have the following rights when mourning your loved one:

  • I have the right to grieve the death of my loved one.

  • I have the right to grieve the death on my own time.

  • I have the right to my feelings and upsurges of sorrow.

  • I have the right to grieve even when others think I should be over it.

  • I have the right to remember and talk about my lost loved one at any time.

  • I have the right to demonstrate my feelings of grief in my own way.

  • I have the right to repeat a stage of grieving as many times as I need to.

  • I have the right to phase in and out of a particular stage of grieving as often as I need to.

  • I have the right to attach my own meanings to the loss.

  • I have the right to expect you to empathize with my grieving because some day you’ll be in my place.

How to Help Someone Who’s Grieving

There is no perfect manual that can give you a step-by-step set of instructions for how to help a loved one grieve a loss. However, there are a few general rules that may help guide you along the way.

If you really want to support a friend or family member in grieving the loss of a loved one, stick to these dos and don’ts:

  • Do listen to him as openly as you can.

  • Do speak to him from your heart.

  • Do tell him how sorry you are.

  • Do remind him regularly that he’s not going crazy and that one day this pain will end.

  • Don’t try to take his grief away

  • Don’t try to comfort him with platitudes about grief.

  • Don’t try to hurry his grieving process along to suit your timetable.

  • Don’t try to persuade him to make changes before he’s ready to make them.

  • Don’t judge him and his ups and downs too harshly.

  • Don’t give up on him and your friendship.

Typical Responses to a Profound Loss

Mourning the loss of a loved one is a very difficult and long process in the best of situations. And while each situation is unique to the griever, there are some typical reactions to loss. When you suffer the loss of a loved one, common responses include feeling. . .

  • Sorrowful and inconsolable

  • Hopeless and despondent

  • Angry and frustrated

  • Unable to focus and concentrate

  • Fearful and withdrawn

  • Remorseful and sorry

  • Guilty and responsible

  • Withdrawn and alienated

  • Depressed and lethargic

  • Impulsive and highly emotional

  • Impassive and unemotional