It may feel like it might be impossible to recover after losing someone you love. But grief does get gradually better and become less intense as time goes by. To help get through the pain, it can help to know some of the things you might expect during the grieving process.
The first few days after someone dies can be intense, with people expressing strong emotions, perhaps crying, comforting each other, and gathering to express their support and condolences to the ones most affected by the loss. It is common to feel as if you are “going crazy” and feel extremes of anxiety, panic, sadness, and helplessness. Some people describe feeling “unreal,” as if they’re looking at the world from a faraway place. Others feel moody, irritable, and resentful.
Family and friends often participate in rituals that may be part of their religious, cultural, community, or family traditions, such as memorial services, wakes, or funerals. These activities can help people get through the first days after a death and honor the person who died. People might spend time together talking and sharing memories about their loved one. This may continue for days or weeks following the loss as friends and family bring food, send cards, or stop by to visit.
Many times, people show their emotions during this time. But sometimes a person can be so shocked or overwhelmed by the death that he or she doesn’t show any emotion right away — even though the loss is very hard. And it’s not uncommon to see people smiling and talking with others at a funeral, as if something sad had not happened. But being among other mourners can be a comfort, reminding us that some things will stay the same.
Sometimes, when the rituals associated with grieving end, people might feel like they should be “over it” because everything seems to have gone back to normal. When those who are grieving first go back to their normal activities, it might be hard to put their hearts into everyday things. Many people go back to doing regular things after a few days or a week. But although they may not talk about their loss as much, the grieving process continues.
It’s natural to continue to have feelings and questions for a while after someone dies. It’s also natural to begin to feel somewhat better. A lot depends on how your loss affects your life. It’s OK to feel grief for days, weeks, or even longer, depending on how close you were to the person who died.
No matter how you grieve, there’s no one right way to do it. The grieving process is a gradual one that lasts longer for some people than others. There may be times when you worry that you’ll never enjoy life the same way again, but this is a natural reaction after a loss. hang in there. It does, with time, get easier.