NurseAsk Nurse Lisa


The People Left Behind

When death happens, it can leave loved ones asking questions and searching for answers. Friend and family members often torture themselves about actions they could have taken and suffer from guilt because they are still alive or for not predicting the future.

Coping with the Death of a Loved One

When a loved one passes, emotions you feel in response to their death are called grieving. Grief, also called mourning, is an important part of healing and processing losing someone you love. Ignoring or avoiding grieving can make you feel worse and keep you from ever finding peace after the death. Everyone grieves differently and on their own time. Some people can feel better in weeks or months, others years. There is no right way or correct length of time to grieve. Remember, take care of yourself while you grieve. See some tips below to help cope with the death of a loved one:

Get Support

This can mean turning to friend and family members, finding comfort from your faith, joining a support group, or talking to a therapist or a grief counselor.

Take Care of Yourself

Grieving takes a lot of strength and energy. Because of this it is essential not to neglect your physical or mental health. Taking care of yourself means facing your feelings, expressing your feelings through actions (getting involved in suicide prevention or holding a basketball shootout to raise funds for the family who’s loved one died) and creativity (like making a scrapbook to remember the person who passed). Other ways to take care of yourself are eating well and exercising. Don’t let other people tell you how you’re supposed to feel after a loss, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. There’s no right way to feel after someone dies. Finally, plan ahead for grief “triggers”, meaning events or things that can make the pain feel fresh again. Some common triggers are holidays, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries.

Grieving- Stages & Symptoms

There are stages of grief, but not everyone may feel all the stages or go through them in the same order. The stages are:

  • Denial (this can’t be happening to me)
  • Anger (Why did this happen? Didn’t they care about me?)
  • Bargaining (Please make this go away)
  • Depression (I’m too sad to do anything)
  • Acceptance (My loved one has died and I’m ready to go on with life).

Grief can be described like a roller coaster, some days may be easy and go by quickly, and other days can be rough and your emotions go up and down constantly. It’s important to be easy on yourself and give yourself plenty of time to find acceptance.

Grief can have physical and emotional symptoms. Knowing the symptoms of grief can help you process the death quicker and help others who are going through grief. Emotional symptoms can include shock and disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, fear, and physical symptoms such as tiredness, nausea, feeling sick, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, and too much or too little sleep. Take care of yourself or others struggling with grief, and remember that acceptance takes time. 

Get Help

For general resources about relationships, sex, wellness and more, please do a search on the Get Answers page.

Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Care page.