Facing the Loss of a Loved One
The experience of loss is one of the most difficult things under the sun. While it is true that everyone mourns differently, it does not mean that the process is quick. For most, healing from one’s grief is something that is learned. At the same time, healing never means forgetting. A healthy grief response has everything to do with learning how to mourn.
The Difference between Grief and Mourning
There is a difference between the experience of grief and that of mourning. Grief is what every loved one experiences when their special person dies. Mourning is the outward expression of that grief. Those who mourn, heal. The question remains, how do I do that? What does mourning look like?
- Give yourself a truckload of grace. Essentially this means giving yourself time to express what you are feeling. These feelings can change or seem more intense on special days. Resist the pressure you may feel from others who try to hurry you through this process. Because every relationship is different, every individual’s expression of mourning will also be different. No one has ever lost your special person with your lives and special memories together.
- Be exceedingly patient. Mourning is work. It is thoroughly mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. One size does not fit all, so don’t look to others to determine how long you will feel like this. It takes as long as it takes. As long as you are searching out and utilizing avenues to mourn, you are healing. For those who “choose not to dwell on it,” remember this: unaddressed grief will not go away by itself. When not addressed directly, it can manifest itself in countless less obvious ways.
- Practice the essentials. This means as much as possible, practice healthy nutrition, exercise, and sleep. Each of these will help renew your perspective and each is essential to move forward in this process. Always check with your physician first if you are experiencing physical symptoms since your loss. It is not always accurate to assume that grief is to blame for these symptoms.
- Reach out for help. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. Sign-up for grief counseling or join a grief support group filled with others who share a similar loss. Be patient with yourself and others. While it is not a journey that will happen easily or quickly, healing does occur as you discover avenues to express your grief. Hope does return, and not only hope, but hope of joy to follow.
- What if I don't feel like doing anything? It is normal to want to stay at home, to shirk away from invitations and feel withdrawn. This only becomes abnormal behavior when personal responsibilities are compromised or neglected. This includes selfcare.
All bereavement services are offered without cost at our Community Bereavement Center. Call to schedule an individual session or learn current support group schedule.
More about our Support Groups
Joining a support group is one of the most practical and healthy steps you can take in your grief. Discover compassionate and practical help from others who share your loss. Those who attend group report the sense of turning a corner in their grief as well as gaining new friends. They also look forward to new seasons of life as healing occurs. Please call for current schedule or with questions.
groups offered below with description
- Brothers-in-Arms is a weekly men’s group for husbands mourning the loss of their wives. All ages welcome.
- Day By Day is a weekly women’s group for wives mourning the loss of their husbands. It is for women 60 and older.
- The Willows is a monthly women’s group for wives mourning the loss of their husbands. It is for women 60 and younger.
- Better Together is a men and women’s group for those past the first year of their grief. It has more of a social focus with weekly lunches and a monthly speaker on relevant topics
- Parents Forever is a monthly support group for parents mourning the loss of a child of any age.
- Empty Arms is a monthly support group for parents mourning the loss of a child either within pregnancy or the first year of life. It includes the loss by miscarriage or stillborn.
- Respectfully Yours is a weekly support group for children who are mourning the loss of a parent (or the role of someone who acted as a parent.) It meets for 6-8 consecutive weeks.
- Caring Friends is a weekly support group for adults who are mourning the loss of a close loved one (any relationship.) It meets for 6-8 consecutive weeks.
- Friend to Friend is a grief group for school-aged children who are mourning the loss of a close loved one. It meets at the child’s school (currently offered in Decatur City, Hartselle City, Lawrence County, and Morgan County Schools.)
- Kid to Kid is a grief group for children (5-13) who are mourning the loss of a close loved one. It meets at our Community Bereavement Center twice a month. It includes a simultaneous group for parents/adults of attending children.
- Survivors of Suicide (SOS) is for adults who are mourning the loss of a loved one by suicide. A children/teen group is available. It meets once monthly.
- Stolen Sorrow is for adults who are mourning the loss of a loved one to homicide. It is co-facilitated by an assistant district attorney from the Decatur City Courthouse and an officer working violent crimes from the Decatur Police Department. It meets monthly or as needed.
- Camp Hope is a one day grief camp for children (5-13) who are grieving the loss of a close loved one. An adult buddy shadows each child to ensure they gain the greatest benefit from what this special camp has to offer. It is held once a year in the summer.
The unexpected news of a death packs a devastating blow. It can be very difficult to carry on with business as usual when such an event occurs. A period of shock follows that makes it difficult to know where to begin. What do I do first? Who should I notify? When is it appropriate to relay the news? These are tough questions especially when trying to take in the news on a personal level as well.
Hospice of the Valley provides crisis support for sudden and traumatic losses. We attend schools when a student or faculty member has died. We help students as well as school personnel throughout the day to both assess and address the needs of their student body. We come with resources that help guide and support in the many days that follow such a loss. While a period of shock and disbelief is normal, it can be devastating to think about how to best care for affected students. We are both equipped and trained for exactly these unfortunate scenarios.
We also offer crisis support to area businesses when unexpected or sudden loss occurs. We are honored to be a trusted asset to our community for these needs.
As your community hospice, we include additional resources for schools, that can be found by visiting the School Programs page.