Courtesy of Woods-Valentine Mortuary

The most difficult life event we experience is the loss of someone we love. The sadness, the shock, the pain, the changes we are forced to make are awfully burdensome.

“Stop the world I want to get off” is how I felt when I’ve lost beloved family members. I didn’t want to think, work or do anything for a while. Yet life goes on with its demands and expectations of you.

I ran across a handout at a local hospital years ago entitled “Surviving The Loss Of One You Love” (author unknown). We give a copy of this handout to each family we serve at Woods Valentine Mortuary. It has blessed many by helping them know what to expect and what is normal. I’d like to share it with you.

Surviving the loss of a loved one seems an impossible task, especially in the first few weeks following the death. Grief and bereavement take their toll both emotionally and physically and for most survivors, there is a feeling that the process will never end.

The sadness and tears may feel overwhelming, the longing for the lost loved one impossible to bear. But there can be recovery, by understanding what grief is and how one grieves.

It’s important to remember that grief is a process and everyone goes through it in different ways and recovers in their own time. There is no specific answer to the question of how long such things will take.

They will take as long as you need, the pain will slowly diminish and life will eventually return to a more normal state. Supportive friends and family members or professional help can ease the painful process, but no one can take all the pain away. Emotional pain and sadness is a natural part of mourning and if it is faced openly can be dealt with effectively.

Grief is a difficult and painful process that begins the minute we understand that someone we love is dying. That may be at the moment of a diagnosis or at the actual time of death. Whenever it happens, usually the first reaction is shock or disbelief.

There can be a numbness and a feeling of unreality and time seems to move slowly. You may not be able to concentrate or function effectively and will need support from family, friends or clergy.

During this time, behavior may be erratic, feelings confused, sensations numbed, concentration poor and there will be a general feeling of unreality. These feelings and the inability to stay fo cused generally last until the funeral is over and friends and family slowly return to their regular routines.

During the first few months following a death, it is normal to experience a period of sadness and disorganization, with frequent tearful spells, thoughts of the deceased, possible loss of appetite and sleep disturbances.

There may be feelings of intense loneliness and a need for companionship. There sometimes are feelings of anger and guilt which can be confusing and uncomfortable.

For many people there is a change in their health status. You may feel fatigue, ill, with spells of dizziness, trembling, shortness of breath or chest pain.

It is important to check with your physician to determine the source of these symptoms. If your doctor feels that these symptoms are related to mourning and grief, the physician may suggest some extra emotional support.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Take time for yourself. Let your tears come as they may and always remember, you will recover!

As believers in Christ we have the assurance that we will be comforted in times of loss. We also have hope in Jesus and are aided by the knowledge that our dear departed loved ones who had accepted the Lord are “in a better place.” Eternal life is the prize for those who finish the race.

I trust this information will bless any of you who are trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.

PLEASE NOTE: This article has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity. For more articles and resources, visit