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Help With Grief

Earthman Funeral Directors are experienced with the transition of loss. We have built an extensive network of resources to help families make the journey from sorrow and loss to acceptance and recovery. We are always ready to help refer our friends to reputable bereavement and grief support service providers.

Below is a Definition of Grief, Three Phases of Grief, Coping With Your Grief, Taking Care of Yourself and a special section provided by Dr. Steven Bailley, who is a licensed grief counselor. We have also provided an additional page of assistance relating to the extraordinary grief issues of The Death of a Baby and Suicide. This information is not intended as a substitute for the caring support of a grief counselor or support group. If your grief is particularly acute please seek the assistance of a grief counseling professional.

A Definition of Grief

Grief is the physical, emotional and mental condition brought on by a loss, or the death of someone you love. Grief is our body's natural ability to heal our emotional injury. Grieving is difficult and many times assistance of friends, loved ones or a grief counselor is needed. Grief is a personal process characterized by three phases.

Three Phases of Grief

The first phase is Shock (denial). This begins with the news of the death, but the reality of the death may occur in a few minutes, a few days or even several months later. This phase protects the survivor from the emotional impact of the death. A need to stay busy, confusion, an inability to express emotion, inability to function and an overwhelming sense that something is wrong without grasping the reality of the loss are common characteristics of this phase.

coping with grief
The second phase is the expression of grief, such as, bargaining, anger and depression and may last for several days to several years. There are mental, physical and emotional manifestations that may come and go, or appear in any combination.
  • Mental: Preoccupation with the death, inability to focus, remember, lack of productivity, paranoia or, inconsistent thoughts.
  • Physical: Fatigue, weakness, insomnia, weight gain or loss, headaches, tendency to catch stress-related illnesses, a sense of vulnerability, discomfort with too much activity or stimulation.
  • Emotional: Intense sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, depression, loneliness, confusion, helplessness, isolation and guilt. There may be the inability to feel love or give love, compulsive behavior, or thinking that you are "crazy".

If an individual is experiencing these symptoms, realize that they are quite normal and in many ways are a necessary part of the healing process of grief. However, if you feel the individual is experiencing these conditions acutely and is not able to handle the grief on their own, professional help may be needed.

The third and final phase is Acceptance. You will know when the individual has reached this stage when they are able to recall memories of their deceased loved one fondly and pleasantly instead of painfully. Once acceptance has been reached, planning for the future becomes more realistic. A new and wiser individual will have emerged.

Coping With Your Grief

How can you overcome the problems of grief? You must first recognize that grief is necessary, and that it is something you must work through. There is no shortcut through grief.

One of the best ways to begin working through grief is to attend the funeral. A funeral confirms the reality of death and serves as a focus for expressing feelings of loss. Funerals also stimulate mourners to begin talking about the deceased, one of the first steps toward accepting the death.

Both before and after the funeral, it its important that you express your feelings. Take time to cry and don't be afraid to share your tears with other mourners. Talk openly with family members and friends – it helps them as much as it does you. Don't try to "protect" them by hiding your sadness. Express your anger if you are feeling it. This is the time when you do lean on friends. They may feel awkward because they don't know how to talk to you about your loss, but let them know what you need, and how you would like them to help you.

grief counseling
If you normally have a pressing schedule, lighten it. Remember, grief is mentally stressful; you don't need the added strain of too much work to do. Set aside some quiet times for yourself to reflect on the death and your feelings, and to put things in perspective.

The strain of grief can take a physical toll as well. It's not unusual for the bereaved to lose weight, experience difficulty sleeping, become irritable or listless, or feel short of breath. So remember to watch your health. You need to eat well and get enough sleep. Try to exercise because physical activity can often help offset depression and provide an outlet for your emotional energy.

What if you can't seem to handle your grief? It is difficult to say when a person needs professional help, but if you are worried that you aren't coping with your grief, it is time to seek help. You may be relieved to discover that you are simply reacting in normal ways. If you believe you need help, ask a clergy member, doctor or contact a greif counselor.

Finally, remember that as time goes on, your grief will diminish. This does not mean you will forget your loved one – it means you accept the death and can no longer enjoy the deceased person's physical presence. But he or she will still be a part of your life. Even though your relationship with your loved one has changed forever, its existence and your feelings live on forever.

Taking Care of Yourself

During the first few days after a death, family and friends surround you. You are busy planning the funeral and may not have time to think about yourself until later when you are alone with your grief. After you've planned the funeral, take care of yourself.

You can expect to experience a wide range of emotions. Grieving is hard work, and you may feel tired and lethargic without understanding why. Lighten your schedule if you can, eat healthy foods and exercise to renew your energy. Take time to be alone with your thoughts, but also spend time talking to close friends about your loss. You need to express your emotions. Feel and express your emotions. It is okay to cry, to laugh, or to be silent. Write things down about your feelings, your wishes, regrets and joys. Give yourself breaks from grieving to rest, have fun and be nurtured. Try to eat well. Try to get your sleep. Above all, give yourself time.

Free Grief Counseling

Earthman Funeral Directors has arranged with Dr. Steve Bailley, a psychologist specializing in grief counseling, to provide our web site visitors with current and helpful information. Dr. Bailley has written a number of papers on several issues dealing with grief. Additionally, Earthman Funeral Directors has arranged with Dr. Bailley to provide a free one-hour consultation to help the family members that Earthman serves in dealing with their grief following a death.

Grief Counselor, Dr. Steven Bailley
The purpose of these articles is to provide interested readers with information and thoughts about loss, grief, mourning, and grief counseling. A variety of grief-related topics have been covered. It is my sincerest hope that you will find the information presented here to be of interest and assistance to you. If there are specific topics of interest that you would like to see added in the future, I welcome you to email me with your suggestions. If you have a need to talk with me, please call me at my office at (713) 914-9944.
Collection of papers and articles on grief, and coping with grief
The need to express our grief… Grief is Different For Each of Us The emotions of grief: Guilt
Grief, Mourning and Grief Counseling The Experience of Grief The Emotions of Grief: Anger
Reactions from others… The Seasons of My Heart The emotions of grief: “I feel like I’ve lost control of myself.”
The Closeness of Mortality Ambivalence  
A 'Grief Journal' Grief After Suicide  
Research and clinical experience support the idea that many bereaved individuals gain benefit from grief counseling. Ideally, counseling can help people to cope as adaptively as possible during difficult times that follow a loss, and can also assist in bringing grief to a more adequate resolution. Should you decide to explore the possibility of seeking professional assistance, at any time following your loss, I welcome you to contact me to explore this option (appointments and fee schedule are available upon request). Every person is unique, and I will work with you to assist you in coping with your specific needs. At this most difficult time in your life, I wish to extend to you my sincerest condolences for your loss.

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Earthman Funeral Directors & Cemeteries • 13102 North Freeway • Houston, Texas • 77060 • (281) 443-0063

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