Dealing with death and grieving

Published 9:56pm Monday, April 21, 2014

Throughout our lives we are faced with losses, albeit at different levels.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote one of the first popular books about the subject called, “On Death and Dying,” describing responses to losses related to terminal illnesses through five stages that include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.
Today, psychologists point out that the process of grieving is complex and no two people mourn the same way or travel the path subsequent to a loss at the same speed.
Grieving, like growing up is a process of going through phases, and each of us makes that journey at our own pace often based upon our relationship to the deceased and the nature of the death.
Whether the death comes after a very long life or a lingering illness, we are better prepared for it.
Sudden deaths caused by accidents, or those involving young people still in the prime of life catch us emotionally unprepared and tend to take more time to deal with to be able to reach a place of acceptance.
The finality of death is always an emotional shock.
Working through the process of dealing with the loss and coping with the symptoms of grief can be a journey lasting from a few months to several years.
For caregivers of loved ones, accepting the reality of a death is one thing, but being able to also accept that you did everything you could and the death was not your fault can be difficult.
Some concepts that may help with the grieving process include:
Take personal charge of the memorial or rituals of death. There is help available to handle all these issues.
If you have a computer, Google the words “Five Wishes.”
Talking about the contents of the Five Wishes with your family can save a lot of emotional stress at the end of life.
Know that there are no shortcuts to grieving.
Watching a terminally ill loved one during the caregiving process allows us time to mourn the loss of that person even as we see them slipping away over time.
It does not however take the place of the grief felt when the actual death occurs.
Stay firmly rooted in your faith traditions. Research shows that those who believe in a spiritual life tend to deal with grieving more quickly and are often able to find meaning in the loss and are better able to cope.
Normal physical and emotional reactions include crying or being unable to cry, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, a feeling of numbness, feelings of being unanchored, and socially withdrawing.
Everyone experiences their feelings and reactions differently.
It’s okay to be angry.
For some, feelings of relief may occur, and that too is okay.
Don’t allow others to rush you through your grieving process.
Ask for help from friends and family, particularly if dealing with new duties like paying bills.
Seek out bereavement support at your church or local Hospice.
Don’t rely on medicines to take the pain away.  Antidepressants can impede the grieving process but can’t take away feelings of loss.
Time, love and family support are often the best medicines.
Eventually, normal life and living must resume.  Your relationship to the person who died doesn’t end with his or her death, but it does change.
Your goal as you go through the grieving process is not to let go of the love and the memories, but to find a way to hold on to them with less pain.
Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert on Medicare, the ACA (Obamacare) and Issues of Aging.
His consulting practice serves clients in Henderson, Polk and Brevard Counties.
He is the author of “Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease,” available as a Kindle book on
His podcasts can be heard weekly at Contact him at 828-696-9799 or by email at:

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