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Life After a Loss

Grieving is a natural response to loss. It touches the whole person — body, mind and spirit. In your grief, you will discover ways to return to life, while still carrying the memory of your loved one with you. Be kind and patient with yourself. It takes time and effort to heal.

Each person has his or her own timetable and style of grief. You may struggle with several feelings at the same time. The depth and duration of each experience is different for everyone. 

What Might You Experience?

You may experience any combination of the following symptoms:


The “blues”
Grief bursts


Heaviness/pounding in chest
Difficulty sleeping
Muscle aches
Appetite changes
Digestive problems
Tightness in throat or chest


Feelings of emptiness
Loss of meaning/direction
Doubt about your beliefs
Feeling of "Why me?"

If the symptoms above cause you concern or last for a long time, talk to your doctor or provider. Remember, it is always good to ask for help whenever you feel you need it.

What Can You Do?

  • Express emotions freely as you feel the need. Crying is an acceptable and healthy expression of grief.
  • Eat a balanced diet, rest and exercise.
  • Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol. They may stop or delay the normal grieving process.
  • Whenever possible, put off major decisions (moving, changing jobs, etc.) for at least a year.
  • Talk about your feelings and your loved one. Others then will know it is O.K. to do the same.
  • Take slow, deep breaths to help you relax. It will remove tension from your body and mind and relieve stress.
  • Write in a journal to help you process your thoughts and feelings. The death of a person close to you is a very painful and difficult experience. Journaling may help you to sort out your feelings.
  • Laugh. Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine. It makes you forget for a while and produces endorphins, which are your body’s natural way of producing pleasure.
  • Choose relaxing activities such as massage, yoga or meditation. Ten minutes of quiet moments can help clear your mind. Stretching your muscles through yoga will give you a sense of peace, and a massage can leave you intensely relaxed.
  • Make time to do something that gives you pleasure. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to produce benefits you can feel. Listening to music, gardening, shopping, walking with a friend, or seeing a movie all provide you with the same effect.
  • Join a support group. Sharing with a group of peers can help you talk through your stressful times. For some, the support from others is all they need.
  • Consider how your faith or spirituality can provide inspiration and enlightenment. If it’s important to you, going to church, even if you haven’t been in awhile, may provide solace. If taking a walk on the beach gives your life meaning, then make your way to the shoreline, even if it does involve climbing a few mounds of snow to get there.
  • Seek and accept help. When people offer assistance, accept it. They might offer a suggestion that worked for them that you may have overlooked.
  • Take care of yourself. The stress of a loss quickly drains a person’s energy and emotional reserves and affects their health and well-being. Grief can compromise the immune system and increase the risk of illness.
  • Volunteering is a great opportunity to become involved in the community and interact with people. Volunteering also may provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and is a way to help others in need.

A Hospice Story

 The Deters family shares how they have coped after loss