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Grieving is a normal, natural, multi-faceted personal response to loss. It is powerful and can be painful - emotionally, spiritually, mentally and even physically. Grief can change your life completely. It serves to help a person cope with the death of a loved one, whether a family member, friend or beloved pet. Grieving is not only something felt after a death, but also the loss of employment, status, a sense of safety, loss of a home or loss of a relationship, such as divorce. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement often refers to the state of loss, and grief to the reaction to loss.

There is usually a predictable series of responses, or steps, to grieving. Although researchers are now moving away from this to consider the wide variety of ways of grieving depending on a personís personality, family upbringing, culture, spiritual and religious beliefs and practices. Many people are able to work through their grieving independently, while others may need additional support from licensed psychologists or psychiatrists or other grief counseling specialists. Grief counseling, professional support groups or educational classes, and peer-led support groups are primary resources available to the bereaved. In the United States, local hospice agencies may also be an important first contact for those seeking bereavement support.

Understanding the grieving process and knowing what to expect may help a person cope - although, again, grieving is different for everyone. The process may be uneven, unpredictable, with no specific time frame. But, even knowing this, may be a comfort. The more you learn about grief, the better able you can cope with it. Itís best not to compare your grief to anyone else, but acknowledge that your loss is worthy of grief and accept you must endure these very real feelings of sorrow. Remember there is no right or wrong way to do the work of grieving, and unfortunately, there is no short cut, but with time, it does work itsí way out - in your own personal way.


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