When a loved one dies, you are flooded with different emotions. You feel as if no one understands what you are going through and you're all alone.
Grief is an emotion we feel when we have lost someone close to us. Grief encompasses the feelings of anger, sadness, and denial among others. There are no hard and fast rules about how you grieve. Everyone grieves in her own way at her own pace. The way you grieve can be influenced by how old you are, the way a person died, and how close you were to that person.
For example, if your loved one has committed suicide, you may be overcome with confusion and guilt. You question if you could have done more for the person or if you overlooked any signs of suicide. You may be angry at the person for taking his/her own life, and it may take you longer to come to peace with the person's death.
The same goes if a loved one dies suddenly, like in a car accident. The death is so sudden that you can't make sense of the overwhelming amount of grief you are experiencing.
If the person has been sick for an extended period of time, you might grieve before the person's death. Perhaps you were lucky enough to say goodbye to that person. If a person is in pain, you may feel relief after they die. But just because you had this time, it doesn't make the loss any easier.
No matter what the circumstance of the loved one's death, death is never easy. You may have heard of the grieving process. This is a healing process you go through after a loved one dies. There are five well-known stages of grief. Not everyone goes through each stage and not everyone will go through each in the given order:
- Denial. You refuse to believe that the person has died.
- Anger. You are angry at the person for dying or angry that you have to deal with it.
- Bargaining. You try to make deals and look for a way out by saying things, such as "I'll be a better person if..."
- Depression. You don't seem to care anymore about losing your loved one or even think you should die too!
- Acceptance. You realize that your life will go on.
Sometimes teenagers deal with grief by participating in self-destructive behavior, such as drinking, experimenting with drugs or acting out in unacceptable behaviors. Engaging in behavior like this doesn't heal pain, but masks it. You may be numb to the grief and never really deal with it. If you are dealing with grief in this way, you need help right away! Be open to, or ask to speak to a counselor or a parent about how you are feeling.
Grief is too big of an emotion for anyone to deal with on their own. Talk to your friends or parents about your feelings. You may feel like they won't understand what you're going through—they don't have to. They just need to listen to you.
You may want to join a grief support group. You'll be able to come together with other people who have had similar experiences with death. They can suggest healthy ways for you to deal with your grief.
At first, you'll probably feel like there's no way to go about your everyday life. It's important to continue to participate in clubs, sports, and hanging out with friends. Your friends and peers will support you in your grieving process.
Often times you'll hear people say you have to just move on. But you can't just move on! Grief is a process you must go through in order to come to terms with the death of your loved one.
If you begin to have feelings of suicide, speak to someone immediately. There are professional counselors that specialize in helping you through this really hard time. If you're not sure how to find a counselor, ask a parent or a school advisor/teacher for help.
Honor the person you have lost. Participate in the memorial or funeral. Plant a tree in their memory. When a person dies, it doesn't mean they are gone from your life completely. They are with you everyday—in your heart and in the memories you have.