Dealing with Grief

Dealing with GriefWITHIN THE FIRST 24-48 HOURS

Periods of strenuous physical exercise alternated with relaxation will alleviate some of the physical reactions.

Structure Your Time—Keep Busy:

You’re normal and having normal reactions– don’t label yourself as crazy.

Talk to People—The Most Healing Medicine:

Be aware of numbing the pain with use of drugs or alcohol. You don’t need to complicate this with a substance abuse problem.

Reach Out—People Do Care:

• Keep your life as normal as possible
• Spend time with others
• Help co-workers as much as possible by sharing feelings and checking out how they’re doing
• Give yourself permission to feel rotten and share your feelings with others
• Keep a journal. Write your way through those sleepless hours

Do Things That Feel Good:

Realize those around you are also under stress. The Nutrition Almanac recommends supplementing your diet with Vitamin C, B2, B6, Calcium and Magnesium. Don’t make big life changes. Make as many daily decisions as possible to give you a feeling of control over your life.


Over the next month you will feel normal reactions to the stressful experience you’ve had which may include:

Physical Reactions:

• Fatigue
• Under activity
• Insomnia
• Hyperactivity
• Nightmares
• Exhaustion
• Startle Reactions
• Health problems

Cognitive Reactions:

• Difficulty with concentration
• Flashback
• Difficulty solving problems
• Isolation
• Difficulty making decisions
• Memory Disturbance
• Inability to attach importance to anything other than the incident

Emotional Reactions:

• Depression
• Fear
• Anxiety
• Guilt
• Emotional numbing
• Feelings of helplessness
• Over sensitivity
• Amnesia of the event
• Anger–which may manifest by: scapegoat, irritability, frustration with bureaucracy, and/or violent fantasies


Although painful, these reactions are a normal part of the healing process. There is very little anyone can do to keep you from experiencing these uncomfortable feelings. However, there are some things you can do to feel more whole.


Tragedy or crisis may leave children feeling frightened, insecure or upset about what has happened. Most of these responses are normal. The way a parent/caregiver reacts will make a difference in the child’s understanding and recovery.

Some Reactions You May See:

• Return to earlier behavior (bed-wetting, thumb-sucking)
• Clinging to parents and fear of being alone
• Reluctance to go to bed
• Nightmares
• Withdrawal or isolation
• Inability to concentrate
• Problems at school
• Changes in eating patterns and/or sleeping habits
• Excessive fear of the dark
• Increase in physical complaints

How You Can Help Your Child:

• Encourage your child to talk about his feelings and you, in turn, should share your feelings
• Do not criticize or shame the child for her fears
• Encourage the child to draw to release feelings
• Hold your child. Touching provides extra reassurance
• Relax rules, but maintain family structure and responsibilities
• Praise and recognize responsible behaviors
• If your child awakens with nightmares, reassure him and stay with him until he goes back to sleep
• Try to avoid any additional changes or stressors that are not absolutely necessary

The fear will subside gradually. The passage of time, along with your understanding, will bring healing to you and your child.

Donna Anderson, D.M.H.S./A.R.C.

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