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Losing a loved one: Take time to heal

Expectations have no place when it comes to grief. How any of us will react to the loss of a loved one, how we will feel or how long those feelings will last are questions that only time can answer.

Accepting the loss

Even though each mourning experience is unique, most people go through similar stages. While the loss is fresh, for instance, you may find it hard to believe that your loved one is gone. And the road to acceptance will surely be paved with many day-to-day adjustments, such as setting one less place at the dinner table.

“Normal” grief

If you’re mourning, you might wonder if what you’re feeling is normal. Changes in appetite and sleep patterns, stomach problems and fatigue are common in the months after a loss. You may also notice mood swings or have difficulty concentrating. It’s also normal to sense your loved one’s presence and even “hear” his or her voice.

When the grieving process stalls

Sometimes grief so paralyzes a mourner that he or she is unable to enjoy life again. Signs that a person may be stuck in the grieving process include:

  • social withdrawal
  • a loss of interest in once pleasurable activities
  • an inability to speak of the deceased without feeling intense grief
  • an inability to move toward future growth
  • continued refusal to accept the loved one’s death and hope for a reunion
  • a tendency to self-destructive behavior

In such cases, professional counseling can help the mourner move forward.