Navigating Grief

Understanding The Grieving Process


The grief process is very personal and our programs help family members move toward an appropriate grief response and adjust to a loss. Hospice of Davidson County offers grief support to all family members for 13 months following the death of a patient.

Grief is a natural part of life, it is very personal, and the process should take however long it takes for you to get through it. Don’t let people tell you how you’re supposed to feel. Sometimes you may not feel anything at all, but once the shock wears off, you may find yourself experiencing any number of emotions. Again, there is no wrong way to grieve. To learn more about navigating grief and our grief programs, call us at 336-475-5444.

Grief is a normal response of emotions, thoughts and behaviors that follow the loss of someone or something important to you. There is no wrong way to grieve unless it causes pain to yourself, or others. However, there are certain items to remember throughout this process, including our reactions, managing of emotions, and words that can either support or hinder this process.

Navigating The Grieving Process

Individuals respond to grief in different and personal ways. Here are some common reactions to grief:

  • Feeling empty and numb, as if in a state of shock
  • Physical symptoms such as nausea, trouble breathing, crying, confusion, lack of energy, dry mouth, and changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Anger at the situation, a person or in general
  • Guilt about what you believe you did and/or did not do
  • Withdrawal from family and friends, and sometimes from common activities
  • Difficulty focusing, working and making a decision
  • Questioning faith and beliefs to find purpose in life
  • Feeling a sense of presence from the deceased person, often indicated by “seeing” or “hearing” your loved one
  • Relief, because your role as caregiver has ended, and/or because your loved one is no longer suffering.
  • Grief can last as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in your life after the loss. Grief can last for several months or years. There is no timetable for grief, and emotions and behaviors may come and go.

When you are experiencing grief, it is important to pay attention to the emotions and thoughts that surface as a result of the grief. Ways you can help yourself:

  • Talk about your loss. Take the time to talk with family, friends or a grief counselor about your feelings, or find a support group to share your memories and find connections with others who are experiencing a similar loss.
  • Forgive yourself for what you “should” have said or done. Also, forgive yourself for the feelings of anger, guilt, and embarrassment you may feel while grieving.
  • Eat well and exercise. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of rest while grieving because grief can be exhausting. Exercise will keep your energy up and refresh your body.
  • Indulge yourself. Enjoy things you used to enjoy, like reading, listening to music and other activities. Do something fun and something that you find comforting.
  • Prepare for holidays and anniversaries. Special events can be especially hard. Know that your feelings of grief may resurface during these events. Acknowledge this as part of the grieving process. Plan activities to mark these occasions and honor loved ones. It may also be helpful to create new rituals or traditions.
  • Pay attention. Other family members may also be in different stages of grief. It is important to acknowledge what those closest to you are experiencing.

Offering support to someone who is grieving a loss can be as simple as an open-ended question. Here are some conversation starters:

  • I’m sorry for your loss.
  • Tell me about him/her.
  • What do you miss the most?
  • What is the hardest part for you?
  • I care about you.
  • I cannot know how you feel, but I do remember a time when my loved one died.
  • Would you like to talk about it?
  • I’m available if you’d like to talk.
  • I’m thinking of you today.

Sometimes people do not know what to say when someone is grieving. Here are some phrases that may be hurtful:

  • I know just how you feel.
  • Move on.
  • You’ll get over it.
  • Don’t think about it.
  • Don’t cry about it.
  • Be strong.
  • You should feel…