There are no correct ways to grieve, and everyone deals with death in their own way. However, there are ways to help with coping with a death in the family.
What to Do When a Loved One Dies
During your grief, there is the task of handling the personal and legal details that may fall to you. There is a considerable amount of paperwork to complete when planning a funeral and taking care of a loved one’s estate.
Here are tasks that need to be completed after a family member dies:
- Get a legal pronouncement of death
- Tell family and friends
- Inquire about existing funeral and burial plans
- Make funeral, burial, or cremation arrangements – know what documents to keep
What is Grief?
Grief is complicated and non-linear. It is an emotional suffering a person feels when someone they love is taken away. A person experiencing grief will experience all types of unexpected and different emotions, from shock to disbelief to profound sadness or guilt. The pain someone feels from grief can affect physical health, sleep, eating, and thinking.
Symptoms of Grief
Loss affects everyone in different ways, but many people experience the following symptoms in their grieving journey.
- Shock and disbelief
- Lowered Immunity
- Weight loss or gain
- Aches and pain
Stages of Grief
There are five stages of grief that psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced in 1969. These stages have been generalized by negative life changes and losses in a person’s life. The five stages of grief include:
- Denial – denial is the first stage in the grief process. During this stage, life makes no sense. You are in a state of shock. During the denial stage, we go numb, wondering how to go on, and try to find ways to get through each day. Denial allows you to pace your feelings of grief, and as you accept the reality of the loss of a loved one, you start to ask yourself questions and begin the healing process.
- Anger – this is a necessary stage. Allow yourself to feel your anger in the healing process. There are numerous emotions under anger, and you will get to them, but anger is the most used emotion to help with healing. Underneath anger is pain,
- Bargaining – after experiencing the loss of a loved one, bargaining can take the form of a temporary truce. You become lost in a web of “if only” or “what if.” When experiencing a loved one’s loss, you want to go back to what life was like before. These stages are responses to a feeling that can last for minutes or hours as you navigate your days and dealing with life after your loss.
- Depression – is the stage of depression, empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters your life on a much deeper level. The depression stage can feel like it lasts forever. Depression is an appropriate response to the loss of a loved one. Depression is a much-needed stage in the grief healing process.
- Acceptance – this stage is not about being alright or ok. The acceptance stage is about accepting the reality of the situation and that your loved one is not physically with you anymore and recognizing your new fact. Through the acceptance stage, you will begin to live again and find some joy in your life.
Grieving is a singular experience, and there is no right or wrong way for someone to go through the grieving process. Grieving experiences depend on factors, such as your coping style, personality, faith, life experience, and how significant the loss is to you.
The grieving process cannot be rushed, and it takes time. There is no standard schedule of how long a person should grieve. Allow your time you need, and allow yourself to feel all the emotions you need to feel.
Grieving can make you want to pull away from others’ help, but having a support system is very important in healing from your loss. You can reach out to other family members and friends, a therapist, or peer support groups.
Just remember to go through the stages and feel your feeling. A death in the family is never an easy time. Especially a couple of days after your busy making the appropriate arrangements, your emotions usually sneak up after your loved one is laid to rest, and you have a moment to yourself.