10 Facts about Grief and Grieving By Dr Bill Webster

Blogs & Articles Article 10 Facts about Grief and Grieving By Dr Bill Webster
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10 Facts about Grief and Grieving

One reason that we often find grief such a difficult challenge is that we have never learned what to expect. The following facts will help you understand some crucial truths about grief and grieving and how we can work through the process to find healing.

 

    1.  Grief is normal.

Grief is not a disease. It is the normal, human response to a significant loss.  People may encourage you to “be strong” or “not to cry”.  But how sad it would be if someone we cared about died and we didn’t cry or we carried on as if nothing had happened.  I’d like to think that someone will miss me enough to shed a tear after I’m gone.  Wouldn’t you?  When you lose someone special from your life you are going to grieve.  Our grief is saying that we miss the person and that we’re struggling to adjust to a life without that special relationship.  Admittedly, saying that grief is NORMAL does not minimize it’s DIFFICULTY.  It may be one of the most challenging experiences of your life.  But you are not crazy, or weak, or “not handling things”.  You are experiencing grief and after a significant loss that is a normal response. 

 

     2.  The worst kind of grief is YOURS

A loss is a very personal matter.  Your loss seems like the worst possible thing that could have happened to you.  Sometimes people ask if it is more difficult to lose a spouse than to lose a child.  Others question if it is worse to lose someone after a long lingering illness or if they die suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack or in an accident.  While these circumstances make each loss different, they are not important to you right now.  The worst kind of loss is yours.  When you lose a significant person from your life, whatever the relationship, it hurts and nothing takes away from your right to feel the loss and grief the absence of that person from your life. 

 

    3.  The way out of grief is through it.

Grief is painful.  Loss is one of the most difficult human experiences.  There is no easy way around it.  We may try to avoid the pain.  We may attempt to get over it as quickly as possible.  But most often it simply does not work that way.  Helen Keller said “The only way to get to the other side is to go through the door”.  We need to find the courage to go through this experience of grief.  Learning this is a major key to recovery. 

 

    4.  Your grief is intimately connected to the relationship

Every relationship holds a special and unique significance to us.  To fully interpret our grief response we need to understand what the relationship brought to my life and therefore what has been lost from my life.  We may grieve the loss of a parent differently from the loss of a friend.  Each made a different contribution to our lives.  What we have lost is not the same and so we grieve differently.  Two individuals, both experiencing the loss of a spouse, may grieve quite differently because of the differing circumstances (the duration, level of happiness etc) of the relationship. 

 

    5.  Grief is hard work

A grief response is often referred to as “Grief-work”.  It requires more energy to work through than most people expect.  It takes a toll on us physically and emotionally.  This is why we often feel so fatigued after a loss or why we may feel very apathetic towards people and events.  The problem is often compounded by people’s expectations of us to be strong or pull ourselves together or to get on with life. 

 

    6.  Your grief will take longer than most people think

How long will grief last?  It is finished when it is finished.  The first few months may be particularly intense.  The first year is difficult: especially the first Christmas or Hanukkah, the first birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, “a year ago today day” and many other times that remind us of our loss.  All are difficult days and we need to anticipate them, know they are normal and be compassionate with ourselves.    Some     writers describe  the  second year of grief as the lonely year when the realization of the life without the deceased becomes even more of a reality.  Take your time.  As John Donne says “He who has no time to mourn, has no time to mend.”  Grief always takes longer than people expect. 

 

     7.  Grief is unpredictable

You may experience a wide variety of feelings and reactions, not just those generally associated with grief, like sadness, crying, depression etc.  Some of your responses may seem quite uncharacteristic.   “This isn’t like me”, you may think.  Grief is unpredictable.  We cannot present it in a neat predictable package.  Just when you think you have it figured out something comes along to surprise us.  In an unexpected moment, suddenly, without warning you find yourself missing the person again.  In fact the one predictable thing about grief is that it is unpredictable.

 

     8.  There may be “Secondary losses” to deal with.

The death of any individual, difficult as that may be by itself, may also precipitate many other changes in your life.  For some it may mean the loss of financial security, a home, or even their independence.  For some it may mean the loss of a role: eg the role of being a parent to a child who dies.  For others it may be the loss of our hopes and dreams of “living happily ever after” or enjoying retirement together, or having dad walk me down the aisle.  There may be many losses – environment, status, alteration of relationships – because of the death.  Each one has it’s own impact and each loss needs to be mourned.

 

    9.  Grief comes and goes

We have said that grief is not a disease.  If you have a sore throat, it is painful for a few days, then the pain eases off and gradually disappears.  Grief does not work that way, however. Our healing process is different from a sickness model.   Sometimes, at first, we do not feel the pain of grief because we are in shock and numb.  Often the pain is more intense some months after the event.  Even then grief is not unlike a roller coaster.  One day we feel pretty good, the next we find ourselves in the depths of despair.  Just when we think we are getting over it we may experience another devastating setback.  This can be discouraging to those who do not know what is happening.   Most have not learned that grief comes and goes and takes much longer than most people expect.  We need to realize that this is the way grief works itself out and trust that the process, difficult as it is, is helping us work towards reconciliation. 

 

    10.  Effective grief work is not done alone

Society has unrealistic expectations about mourning and often responds inappropriately.  Most people do not understand what is normal in grief, expecting us to get over it quickly and expressing these expectations in a way that seems less than sensitive.   Many people mistakenly believe that grief is so personal we want to keep it to ourselves.  People mean well, but they are not being helpful.  Sometimes when people are using cliches or expressing unrealistic expectations we feel like shutting ourselves away.  Often they feel uncomfortable with our grief and so, shortly after the funeral is over, the person or the loss is not mentioned.  There sometimes seems to be a conspiracy of silence.  People are afraid to say or do the wrong thing so they say and do nothing which is possibly the worst thing.  Grieving people need to talk.  Not everyone will be willing or even able to respond to you.  In fairness, not everyone can.  Accept that and try to find a support group or a counselor who can help.  Or talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.  I believe in the power of shared experiences, and often others who have been through the deep places can be a real help.  Grief is about coping with the loss of a relationship and often in a helping relationship, relief can be found.

Over 100 Testimonials and Reviews

We sincerely thank the staff and in particular Sarah and James at Freemantle's Titchfield for their understanding and kindness in organising and conducting the recent funeral of our son John. The whole process was guided with much empathy on such sad occasion.

Michael Coward

James was incredibly understanding and dealt with a difficult situation with care and attention. Nothing was too much trouble.

Tim Quinlan

Sarah's kindness, genuine warmth, understanding of the personal character of how people say goodbye to a loved one, and inclusive approach, together with her knowledge and professionalism made me feel 'held' throughout the process of organising and being at my mum's funeral. It made such a difference at a difficult time. Highly recommend this company to anyone.

Kes

Recently I was sadly in need of the services of A.H.Freemantle. I cannot find words to thank James and his staff enough. They guided and comforted me through the whole sad process. James's quiet steady professionalism both before, and during the ceremony made a dreadful experience much much easier to endure..highly recommended to anyone facing this inevitable ordeal. Thank you all.

Robert Leake

We sincerly thank the staff and in particular Sarah and James at Freemantle's Titchfield for their understanding and kindness in organising and conducting the recent funeral of our son John. The whole process was guided with much empathy on such sad occasion.

Michael Coward

James and the team really are who you need by your side when you are facing your most challenging times in life. I've been in need of the services of A H Freemantle twice in a year having lost both my mother and father. Honestly I couldn't recommend them enough, at such a challenging time they really did do everything to make it as bearable as possible. I can not recommend James and the team enough, they were truly incredible from start to finish.

Chris

James handled the funerals of both my mother and father, and in both cases everything went very smoothly and was done with great dignity. We could not have asked for more.

Peter Allday

Extremely kind & considerate. Very professional. I felt supported throughout a very difficult process. Jane was fantastic, sensitive and caring and made me feel that she truly understood and cared about us all.

Jill Spence

Exemplary and highly professional service throughout, with every effort made to accommodate the wishes of the family. Would highly recommend to anyone faced with having to arrange a funeral.

Robert Greaves

I would like to thank all the staff at the Eastleigh branch of helping me through a very difficult time when my mother passed away recently. All the staff were so helpful, considerate and compassionate, Clair in the office was always helpful and kind and helped me through the whole process of arranging a funeral.

Robert Duma

Jane and her colleagues went above and beyond to support and guide my family and I through the most traumatic time. From the moment of instruction to the service itself, I received true professionalism coupled with empathy. Every detail was discussed, every request was met, with kindness and thought. Thank you.

Nicky Goga

I can’t praise Claire at the Botley branch enough, who looked after my husband’s funeral. She was very professional, but more than that she was kind, caring, and nothing was too much trouble. Going above and beyond, which made this very difficult time so much more bearable for my family and I.

Nicola Abbott

James and his team were extremely kind, thoughtful ad professional. As a family we appreciated the help and advice that was given.

Connie

Although my review is simplistic it comes from the heart. Without A H Freemantle's Park Gate & Titchfield offices I could never have got through what was and always will be my darkest hour. Thank you for looking after my beautiful mother, Gwen. Special thanks to Jane and Dawn. And thank you Jane for recommending the wonderful Rev. Boggust. My brothers, sister, and myself will always remember the kindness, respect, and compassion shown by all at A H Freemantle.

Eleanor Campbell-Loveday

James and the team at A H Freemantle did the most fantastic job for us when my brother died suddenly and unexpectedly. They were very clear about the things I had to make a decision on - not there and then but in my own time - but they also completely took over and seamlessly managed all those other things that have to be booked and paid for. They also gave me great advice about how to handle the things I needed to handle. They contributed hugely to giving my brother the send off that he deserved and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend A H Freemantle to anyone else when that time comes and you need a funeral director.

Kevin Briscoe

I would like to thank both James and Jane for the courtesy and respect shown to me and my family. They appreciated the tragic circumstances and were able to guide us gently through the Church service and subsequent committal at Wessex. You were as a company stars that day, showing us the way.

Brian Stoker

Sarah really put our family at ease and was very helpful. Made a very difficult thing to do a lot easier. Would highly recommend their services.

Verity Maddocks

Having had experience with this company earlier in the year they were the natural choice when my wife died. Clair was absolutely brilliant from the initial enquiry and compassionately and clearly explained the whole process. Nothing was too much trouble and the whole range of options clearly laid out and explained. We really didn’t have to do anything ourselves. I would gladly recommend when the the time comes to anyone else.

Customer

Freemantles handled the funeral for my son - firstly they had to collect him from Leicester where his post mortem took place. From the start they were so caring and attentive to our distress as it was a sudden death. Kate the lady we dealt with was absolutely wonderful. She dealt with every detail with so much sympathy and feeling. The Celebrant they appointed was also terrific and dealt with the ceremony exactly as we wanted. If you find yourself losing a loved one I would highly recommend Freemantles. They totally helped make a nightmare of losing your child bearable.

Helen Sallis

From my first phone call to the completion of the funeral the staff at A H Freemantle gave outstanding service. They were professional and compassionate, taking time to listen to our requests and discuss the options. They made a difficult time easier and I knew I could trust them absolutely with the arrangements.

PM

Excellent personable service. Caring and sensitive - Sarah always seemed to be available no matter what time. The attention to detail and everything was brilliant. We all felt very happy with the choice that we had made for our Mum's funeral and burial that we did not hesitate to use again for our Dad. Our Mum and Dad had such lovely "send offs" managed so well by A.H. Freemantles.

Susan Grace

I’ve never lost a parent and didn’t have a clue what I should be doing - James made us feel very relaxed, made sure that our mum would be well looked after with him which gave us comfort. The celebrant he chose was absolutely brilliant and really made the whole experience extremely personal to us. James even sourced out a Leopard print coffin for us - the first in 22 years apparently! Would really recommend

Kerris Smith

We as a family would like to thank James and everyone at Freemantle’s Titchfield for all their help and guidance, James you made us feel so relaxed and calm, the day went without a hitch, we laughed we cried, our mum would of approved of everything, also a very big thank you to Martin the celebrant, you were all amazing thank you so much.

Sarah Bartlett