Coping with the Death of a Loved One
How does someone help their friends, their family and the children and loved ones, left behind after the death of a family member or close family friend?
Death is the most powerful stressor in our everyday lives. Death causes emotional distress and often physical distress in virtually everyone closely tied with the person who died.
Loss of a family relationship or close friend often causes severe, profound mental suffering. It can also have a long-lasting effect on the health status of survivors.
As hard as losing a loved one is for adults, the loss of a parent or close relative or friend on a child can create complicated scarring, stress and internal upheaval. And unless one experienced such a loss as a child, it is difficult to imagine how much more difficult it is for children to comprehend and cope.
Immediately following death, whether or not it has been anticipated, a majority of adult survivors will foresee-ably experience feelings of numbness, shock and disbelief. Many “going through the motions,” you will see firsthand how they somehow manage to take care of funeral arrangements, greet family and friends, and tend to financial matters.
However, adult survivors often do not immediately comprehend the full, final reality of the death. Continuing shock and numbness persist weeks, if not months after the death. During this second period, after a death, many individuals face even deeper feelings of sadness, intense yearning for the company of the deceased, and stress about the future, disorganization and feelings of emptiness commonly arise in the weeks after the death.
Despair and sadness are common as it sinks more and more in that the deceased will not return and that the death of their loved one is permanent.
Be mindful of common physical complaints of individuals struggling with the loss of a loved one. These include problems with sleeplessness, appetite, agitation, chest tightness, sighing, fatigue and exhaustion.
Adult survivors often mentally replay important events and interactions with the deceased and often have intrusive thoughts concerning the death, regrets and missed opportunities. The individual may withdraw from family and friends, yet learn that being alone is as difficult as being with other.
Grief often comes in waves that are triggered by reminders of the deceased the bereaved may feel fine one moment and be overcome with sadness and grief the next moment. The first feelings of pleasure after a loss are often experienced as a betrayal of the relationship with the person who has died.
Children experiencing a loss typically go through similar emotional patterns. However, infants and younger children may not grasp the true situation.
Providing emotional support, taking the time to spend some time with them, going to a movie, going to the mall, going with them to mass or church, coming over a cooking or baking with them, having them come over to your home can go a long way.
It is also recommended to provide not only additional reassurance for a child, but also on the surviving parent, who has experienced a loss but whom also has the additional strain on the parent, who must deal with their own emotional responses to the loss in addition to shouldering their responsibility to help their minor children cope. Both are challenging.
Helping a child is difficult enough if the parents are coping well, but to the extent they are not, meeting the child’s needs may be impossible. To provide optimal help for a child, the parents must distinguish between normal and dysfunctional grieving processes, both for themselves and the child.
BEING THE BEST YOU CAN BE.
Before you can help your child, you need to take care of yourself. If you are experiencing abnormal, complicated, prolonged grief, you may not be able to help your child very much without obtaining professional help for yourself. Seek whatever help you need from a counsel or physician.
SHOW YOUR OR THE CHILD UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
Make sure your child understands the loss in truthful terms you lovingly communicate. (At younger ages, the child will not understand at all, but you need to make the effort to communicate the sense of loss as soon as possible as he or she develops an ability to understand.) Provide emotional support. Encourage your child to cry, and cry with your child. Reassure your child that this loss will not adversely affect his or her personal safety or physical comfort.
Explain that you too will be dealing with the deep feelings of sadness, and that you will learn together how to get on with your lives without the lost one’s physical presence. Soften the blow with comforting words; this may include spiritual concepts related to your family’s religious beliefs. Encourage your child to vent his or her feelings, and do not criticize expressions of anger or other negative emotions.
Alert your child’s teacher, coach and other adults involved in his or her life to your child’s loss and grieving process.
ADJUST TO A NEW ‘”NORMAL.”
Expect a long period of adjustment for you and your child, but monitor your child’s grief resolution to see if most troubling symptoms are improving as the weeks and months pass.
KNOW WHEN THEY NEED ADDITIONAL HELP.
If you have concerns or uncertainty, seek counseling or consult with your family doctor or pediatrician about whether a referral to a child psychologist or psychiatrist is indicated. Be especially vigilant if there are risk factors for poor bereavement outcomes as noted above.
If you believe there may be signs of depression that persist and worry you, get a referral to a child psychiatrist for screening and/or treatment. It goes without saying that unconditional parental love is extremely important, yet there are limits to the benefits that even superhero parents can provide their child. Childhood depression is a serious illness that can only be diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional.
Your job as a parent is to seek the involvement of such a professional whenever signs or symptoms of depression are sever e or persist for more than two to eight weeks.
Be attuned to your child’s progress with grief resolution, and do not hesitate to seek professional interventions warranted by severity or persistence of symptoms.
To provide optimal help for a child, the parents must distinguish between normal and dysfunctional grieving processes. Both for themselves and the child.
GET ANSWERS WHEN A WRONGFUL DEATH OCCURS
In some cases the death of a loved one is not from a natural event of the individual growing old or being inflicted with a genetic condition.
In some cases a death can and will be referred to as a Wrongful Death.
The term Wrongful Death is used when the deceased was killed in an Auto Accident, as a result of a Medical Mistake, by a Defective Product or a Defective Prescription Drug or as a result of a Construction Accident, a Work Site Accident or an Accident that occurred on a Boat or Plane. The types of events that can be the cause of a Wrongful Death are endless, but are generally attributed to an act of carelessness or negligence of the individual or corporation that caused the event to occur.
If a Wrongful Death has occurred, it is advisable to reach out to an experienced Wrongful Death Attorney, immediately, so to begin an Investigation as to why this death occurred, what were the circumstances of how the accident or event occurred, was someone negligent, did a product or a prescription drug malfunction, who is responsible for the death occurring, were there witnesses to the event, is the evidence that indicates someone acted negligently being collected safeguarded and protected, should a lawsuit be filed against the responsible party, and what steps can be taken to lessen this type of event from occurring to someone else in the future.
If a wrongful death loss occurs, Call Carabin Shaw, Day or Night for Free – We can Help – The Call is Free- The Consultation is Free. Call – 1.800.862.1260.