Dealing With Grief

Every person's grief is a unique and a personal experience. No two people will grieve in the same manner and there is no "wrong" way to grieve. Each person is entitled to their own feelings, even if they are different from the feelings of others in the family. Grief is an all-consuming experience and it’s often hard to see past our own pain. All family members should be encouraged to seek support. Many times this support will come from persons outside of the family.

Common Reactions to Loss

The most common reactions to loss are:

  • Physical sensations such as hunger, nausea, breathlessness, shaking, headaches, sensitivity to noise, chest or throat pain;
  • Behaviors such as sleep and appetite disturbances, crying and sighing, increase in illness or accidents, increased use of alcohol, nicotine and changes in personal hygiene habits;
  • Feelings may include frustration, irritation, misdirected hostility, depression, guilt, yearning, fear and relief;
  • Thoughts such as disbelief, confusion/forgetfulness, lack of concentration, obsessive thinking about the loved one; and
  • Spiritual reactions ranging from searching for broader meaning and embracing religious rituals to questioning faith or returning to previously abandoned beliefs and practices.

If you are concerned about any of these reactions, please contact our bereavement counselor.

The Impact of Grief on the Family

Every person's grief is a unique and personal experience. No two people in the same family will grieve in the same manner. There is no "right" way to grieve. Each member of the family is entitled to their own feelings, even if they are different from the feelings of others in the family. Grief is an all-consuming experience. It is often hard to see past our own pain.

Family members must remember that EVERYONE is hurting. All family members should be encouraged to seek support. Many times this support will come from persons outside of the family.

Special care should be paid to the needs of children when someone in the family is ill or dies. They grieve differently than adults and should be given permission to grieve as kids.

Our loved ones fill many different roles within the family. Some of these roles are obvious such as spouse, parent and sibling. Other roles such as, peacemaker, organizer of family gatherings, family problem-solver, Mr. Fix-it, etc. are not so obvious. When someone dies we lose the contributions they made to the family through their various roles. Many times a "vacuum" may exist while the family attempts to re-organize without this person. This may require extra patience and understanding on everyone's part.

Help a Grieving Friend

Below are suggestions for helping a friend who is grieving.

  • Call often - especially after the first couple of months. Those who are grieving may not have the energy to call, even though they may need to talk.
  • Talk about the one who died. Don't avoid his/her name. Sharing memories can help your friend deal with the reality of loss.
  • Express your caring. If you feel like crying when talking to your friend, it's okay.
  • Bring food or invite your friend to dinner. As one woman said, "I have to eat, but it's so hard to cook."

Most of us feel awkward around pain or suffering. That too is normal. Know that as you share moments of pain with your relatives and friends, you will eventually share moments of joy.


If you feel that you need help beyond the support you are getting from family and friends, please consider contacting the Salina Regional Health Center Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit. They can get you the help you need 24 hours a day. https://www.srhc.com/services/psychiatric/inpatient-care.php

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time, or chat online. The Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741. You can also contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for crisis support by dialing or texting 988, available 24/7/365.