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Coping with Loss: Bereavement and Mental Health

The death of a loved one – at any age, from any circumstance – is one of the cruelest blows that life has to offer. The journey through this grief is long and difficult. In the early moments, we may find ourselves in an all-consuming pain beyond description. It can be tough to live our everyday lives, challenging to think about anything other than our loss. Even happy memories may bring us pain for a time. People do not “get over” the death of a child, sibling, parent or grandchild, nor do they “snap out of it” as the outside world often thinks we should. This loss is not an illness from which we recover. It is a life altering change that forces us to build a new life for ourselves and our families in a world that no longer includes our loved one.

When a death occurs, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Some emotions and experiences you may encounter include: profound sadness, difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, denial of the loss, inability to function at work, and anger with yourself, family members, medical personnel, God, even the deceased. Below are some ways you can cope with grief.


1. Let Others Help You
• Tap bonds with friends, teachers and counselors
• Trust others to help
• Share feelings and pain

2. Remember It’s Normal To Feel What Seems Abnormal
• It is common to feel that you’re ‘going crazy’
• Personal disorganization is common
• Anger and fear will be present

3. Express Thoughts and Feelings
• Words are most helpful and least harmful
• Crying is healthy – it is ok to cry
• Do not fear losing control

4. Do Not Try to Avoid Grief
• Avoiding grief adds misery
• Lean into your feelings

• Grief postponed is acceptance postponed
5. Reach Out
• Sharing is our responsibility
• Do not assume others know what you need
• Choose to be healed

6. Help Others
• Memorialize
• Do more than expected
• Volunteer

7. Rise Above Bitterness
• Bitterness displaces blame
• Grudges deplete energy
• Forgive self and others

8. Expect to Regress
• Grief is erratic
• Special times can be hard

9. Maintain Physical Strength
• Have healthy eating and sleeping habits
• Run, play, and participate in sports
• Find ways to relax

10. Deal With Your Needs and Immediate Problems
• Decide what your needs are
• Seek healthy ways to meet your needs

Remember that you are not the only one who has gone through profound loss and grief. The grieving process can be made a little easier with support. A variety of grieving support resources are available, many of which are online. Below, you’ll find the best grief-related resources in the nation.
Vitas Healthcare
VITAS provides bereavement services including support groups, newsletters, national bereavement events, brief phone support & Facebook Bereavement Group to caregivers, family members & friends of VITAS patients and members of the community experiencing grief. All services provided at no cost.
239-649-2300 | VITAS.com

Cribs for Kids-Healing Hearts
The Healing Hearts Infant Bereavement Group is a private group for those who have experienced the death of a baby. It is a place where invited members can share stories, and other information about their precious child. We welcome members to provide support to others and seek support during difficult times. Meetings occur first Tuesday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00 pm through an online format. If you are interested in joining our online meeting on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 pm.

Bereaved Parents of the USA
This national, non-profit self-help group offers many resources for bereaved parents to help them rebuild their lives.

Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation
Families don’t have to face childhood cancer without support. The Childhood Cancer Foundation provides emotional, educational and practical assistance
for families in need.

CJ First Candle
This organization provides bereavement support to families who have suffered the loss of a baby from SIDS, SUID or stillbirth.

Parent Grief Support Directory
Find a wide array of local, national and international grief support resources for grieving parents.

MISS Foundation
For families who have experienced the death of a child, find grief resources and online support forums which are fully moderated for safe, caring interactions with others.

Perinatal Hospice and Palliative Care Resources for Parents
These resources are for parents who have been told by medical professionals that their unborn baby will likely die before or after delivery.

The TEARS Foundation
This non-profit organization offers compassionate financial assistance to grieving parents who have lost a baby and need to make final arrangements.

The Compassionate Friends – Supporting Families After a Child Dies
This non-profit organization exists to provide friendship, understanding, and hope to those going through the natural grieving process.

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