By Joy Johnson —

Grief: the range of emotions or feelings we experience when someone we love dies.
Grief is the price we pay for loving.

If you are reading this, it’s likely you loved, and still love, someone special who has died. You are grieving, and knowing some things about grief lets you know you are not alone.
o Everyone in the world grieves.
o Everyone in the world also does it differently.
o And most people grieve in four ways.

Physically – Our bodies grieve.
As my father lay dying, my Aunt Ada hurried out to the restroom. When she came back she said, “I lost my cookies,” a polite way of telling us she threw up.

When you grieve:
o Your heart may actually ache. Your head may hurt. You feel exhausted.
o You may not see clearly. Your stomach may feel upset or ache.
o Colds may attack you. You may have difficulty sleeping. You can’t concentrate.
o Symptoms of the illness that caused your person’s death may visit you.
o You may feel hungry and eat all the time or not be able to eat at all.

All these and more are common to grievers. If you are worried at all about your health, by all means see your doctor. Be especially careful, however, about taking sleep aids or tranquilizers. Some of these can actually prolong your grief.

What you can do: Make a commitment to yourself and your loved one who died to take really good care of yourself for the next year. Kelly Osmont knew her son, an only child who died after being kicked by a horse, would expect her to do just that. For one year after his death, she concentrated on eating right, drinking a lot of water (we loose water when we cry), exercising and getting sleep, even if it meant taking frequent naps.

Sometimes I’d wake up and the last thing I wanted to do was take a walk. I would see all the reasons why not to, like words on the inside of my eyelids. Then I would imagine windshield wipers wiping all the words away, and I’d get up and go.

Emotionally – We have all sorts of feelings that hit us like waves.

Here are just some of the feelings you may experience: sorrow, anger, loss, emptiness, fear, anxiety, depression.

What you can do: Accept that these feelings are normal. They aren’t good or bad, they just are. They are likely to hit you unannounced when you least expect them. Know they will not last forever and that you can handle them.

I found someone to talk to. Just having coffee with a friend helped. When I got scared, I called someone or left the house for awhile. I invited myself to cry whenever I needed to. When I was mad, I took a kitchen towel and hit the bed. I talked to my loved one, too.

Mentally – Sometimes it’s all we can think about. Grief plays with our heads.
It’s easy to get caught up in questions-the “whys” and “what ifs”. You go over and over things in your head. Decisions are difficult. You forget things. You act differently and can’t figure out why. You read the same sentence over and over. It’s just plain hard.

What you can do: Get to know Grief, and know it well. There are small, simple books to help you on your journey. Keep a journal to record your feelings, your questions and make sure there’s a calendar to mark up and check a few times every day so you don’t miss appointments. Make a mental note that nothing is too small to write down. As part of your journal, let your eyes and mind watch for one thing each day that brings you joy-and write it down.

Some of the little joys I wrote about seemed to tiny: a tulip blooming, a bird on my porch, an old photograph I found that made me cry and that went into my journal, too,

Spiritually – When someone we love dies, our whole being aches.
Some people feel they could never get through grief without their faith. Others say death destroyed their beliefs.

I felt as if a hole had been torn in my soul.

Religion is the practice of faith. Spirituality is responding to something greater than ourselves. Spirituality is that which brings you peace. The spirit searches and yearns and the heart answers. This can be a time of great spiritual growth for you. It can bring wisdom and concern for others as well as for yourself.

What you can do:
Learn all you can about grief and how you can use it to become the person you want to be. Read. Talk to other people who are grieving as well. Be determined, even in your weakest moments, to grow from this experience, no matter what your age or circumstances. As the old saying goes, “You can go through this and grow through this.” The person who gave you this information is a fine resource. Feel free to contact them whenever you have a question or a need.

You are on a journey. Each day will take you in a different direction. Recognize grief as a normal, healthy part of life. Know that it will lessen over time. You will laugh and find joy again.

I know that dead or alive, she would want me to have a good life.

REMEMBERING
o We never forget.
o The person we loves lives in our hearts for as long as we live.
o As soon as our person dies, the mourning and remembering begins.

In 1978, Joy Johnson and Dr. Marvin Johnson founded Centering Corporation www.centering.org. The Centering Corporation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education on grief and loss for professionals and the families they serve.

Centering Corporation has done remarkably well in the industry, with now a compilation of over 500 resources for grief and loss including the magazine Grief Digest. They continue to provide educational offerings, bookstores, and workshops for caregivers and families, with a heritage of becoming the largest provider of resources for Grief and Loss in the nation.

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Joy Johnson Brown

Joy Johnson Brown

In 1978, Joy Johnson and Dr. Marvin Johnson founded Centering Corporation. The Centering Corporation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education on grief and loss for professionals and the families they serve. Centering Corporation has done remarkably well in the industry, with now a compilation of over 500 resources for grief and loss including the magazine Grief Digest. They continue to provide educational offerings, bookstores, and workshops for caregivers and families, with a heritage of becoming the largest provider of resources for Grief and Loss in the nation. Joy received the Professional Service Award from the Compassionate Friends in 2004 and has written or edited 150 books on grief. She has co-presented more than 500 workshops at seminars and conferences. Joy is the author of "Keys to Helping Children Deal With Death and Grief," published by Barrons in New York, and The Very Beautiful Dragon series, published by Centering Corporation. The Johnsons live in Omaha, Nebraska, and have six children and seven grandchildren. Joy appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss “Thanksgiving Reflections.”

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