Family members may not quietly and peacefully accept what has happened...Family members have no choice--they must cooperate with the media, the police and sometimes the courts.
E.K. Rynearson, MD Virginia Mason Medial Center
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Grief: A Normal and Natural Responses to Loss
This list has been compiled from Survivors of both Orange and San Diego Counties in California
MOST PEOPLE WHO SUFFER A LOSS, EXPERIENCE ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING:
Feel tightness in the throat or heaviness in the chest.
Feel thumping, erratic heartbeats and are very aware of heart beats.
Have an empty feeling in their stomach, loss or increased appetite, or experience nausea.
Feel restless and look for activity, but have difficulty concentrating.
Feel in a trance, want to just sit and stare.
Feel as though the loss isn't real, that it didn't actually happen. (This may include trying to find your loved one.)
Feel light-headed and dizzy.
Sense the loved one's presence (this may include expecting the person to walk in the door at the usual time, or hearing his/her voice, or seeing his/her face).
Have frequent headaches.
Wander aimlessly, forget and don't finish things they've started to do around the house.
Have difficulty sleeping, and have frequent dreams or visions of their loved one.
Feel guilty or angry over things that happened or didn't happen in the relationship.
THESE ARE ALL NORMAL GRIEF RESPONSES.
YOU MAY ALSO EXPERIENCE:
DISBELIEF You expect to wake up any minute from this nightmare. It can't be true. You can't cry, because you don't believe the loss actually happened. SHOCK Nature softens the blow, temporarily. You are numb and dazed. Your emotions are frozen. You go through the motions, like a robot.
CRYING Deep emotions suddenly well up, seeking release through loud sobbing and crying. Give yourself time for tears. Experiencing your emotions can help.
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS You may sleep or eat too little or too much. You may have physical aches, pains, numbness, or weakness. Check with a doctor to rule out other causes. Usually the symptoms fade gradually.
DENIAL You know the death is a fact but you forget. You expect your loved one to telephone or walk in the door. WHY "Why did he/she have to die?" You don't expect an answer, but you need to ask repeatedly. REPEATING Over and over again, you tell the same story, think the same thoughts. Repeating helps absorb the reality.
SELF-CONTROL You control your emotions to fulfill your responsibilities or to rest from the pain. Self-control can shape and give rhythm to your grieving, but constant rigid self-control can block healing.
REALITY "It really happened." Reality has just hit, and support from friends and family may be diminishing. You feel you're getting worse.
CONFUSION You can't think. You go blank in mid-sentence. You are disorganized and impatient.
IDEALIZING You remember only good traits, as if your loved one was perfect. You find it hard to accept your loved one’s idiosyncrasies or imperfections. These traits become endearing reminders.
IDENTIFYING Wanting to stay close, you copy your loved one's style of dress, hobbies, interests, or habits. You may carry around one of their prized possessions.
ENVY You envy others. Their pleasure in their loved ones intensifies your loss.
FRUSTRATION Your past fulfillments are gone and you have no new ones. You feel you're not coping with grief "right".
BITTERNESS Temporary feelings of resentment and hatred, especially toward those in some way responsible for your loss, are natural. But, habitual bitterness can drain energy and block healing.
WAITING The struggle is over, but your zest has not returned. You are in limbo, exhausted and life seems flat.
HOPE You believe you will get better. The good days out balance the bad. Sometimes you can work effectively, enjoy activities, and really care for others. MISSING You never stop missing your loved one. Particular days, places, and activities can bring back the pain as intensely as ever. COMMITMENT You know you have a choice. Life won't be the same, but you decide to actively begin building a new life.
SEEKING You take initiative, renewing your involvement with former friends and try new activities.
HANGING ON Some days you hang on to the grief, which is familiar. Letting go is more a final good-bye to your loved one. You let go gradually.
PEACE You can reminisce about your loved one with a sense of peace. You're able to face your own future. LIFE OPENS UP Life has value and meaning again. You can enjoy, appreciate, and anticipate events. You are willing to let the rest of your life be all it can be.
Compiled for you by the Survivors Of Violent Loss Program of San Diego County, California 619-685-0005