Loss in Immediate Family

If an immediate family member has recently died, most likely you are grappling with a mix of difficult emotions. Maybe you are in shock at a sudden death. You could be feeling anger, guilt or fear. Perhaps, interwoven with your sorrow, is a sense of peace after suffering through a long illness. We each grieve in our own individual way. How we handle the loss of a loved one depends on our personal backgrounds, our connection to the person who died and even how the person died. The following information can serve as a starting point for helping you cope with the loss of an immediate family member:
* Surviving a Spouse or Partner
On your wedding day, you and your spouse made official the bond between you and began a new life as one. Whether you were together for 5 years or 50 years, loosing your partner can be like losing a part of yourself.
If you have experienced the death of a loved one prior to loosing your spouse, you are probably surprised or frightened by the intensity of your grief. Emotional responses like sorrow, anger and loneliness can feel overwhelming without your partner there to comfort you. You may find that you think about your spouse constantly, recreate the circumstances of their death over and over in your mind, or have dreams or nightmares.
As the reality of your partner’s death sinks in, you may find yourself trying to reinvent yourself and their life. Perhaps you have young children at home and now must handle raising them on your own. Or maybe the death of your spouse has left you in a tight spot financially.
Even relationships with mutual friends may change. If you were used to socializing with friends as a couple, those same friends may have a difficult time interacting with you as an individual.
Underlining all of the other changes is the need to accept being without your primary partner in life. You had grown accustom to living a certain lifestyle and spending your life together. Now your closest companion is gone, and you are left to rediscover your own life.
In time you will adjust to your new life and your grief will diminish. This does not mean you will forget your spouse. Even as you accept the death and begin your new life, you will keep in your heart the love and memories you shared during your time together.
    * When Your Parent Dies  
No matter what age you are—young or old, single or with a family of your own—you will still be deeply affected by the death of your mother or father. When your mom or dad dies, it may be one of the most emotional losses you’ll experience in life. It is only natural to feel consumed by a combination of pain, fear and deep sadness at the loss of such a significant influence in your life.
The specifics of how you grieve will depend on a number of personal factors, including your relationship with your parent, age, gender, religious beliefs, previous experience with death, and whether or not you believe it was time for your parent to die. But there are some common reactions that people often experience after the loss of a parent. They include:
    * Shock
    * Denial
    * Numbness
    * Guilt
    * Preoccupation with the memory of your parent
When you lose a parent, you also lose a life long friend, counselor and adviser. Therefore, you may suddenly feel very much alone, even if you have the support of other family and friends. Even the loss of your parent’s home as a natural place for family gatherings can add to the grief you experience.
After the initial shock fades, you will experience what is called secondary loss. This is when you may begin to think of all the upcoming experiences that your parent will not be there to share in. Things like career accomplishments, watching your own children grow, and other milestones. If you are older, the death of a parent may even bring up issues of your own mortality.
Allowing yourself to grieve for the loss of your parent will help you to say goodbye and loosen the emotion bonds to a loved one who has been a special part of your life.
Taken from www.nfda.org
“Reprinted with the permission of the National Funeral Directors Association,
June 2009.”


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