Pastoral Care

Grief in the First Year: Healing and Hoping


Grief is a natural response to great loss. Grief is the emotional process that people go through after the loss of something precious. If you are grieving, then you are working on healing from that loss. You are transforming and learning how to live in a world that feels different. This internal process is emotional work, and you will have a lot of strong feelings. This is normal and to be expected.

You may have already begun to grieve, even before your loved one has died. This is called “anticipatory grief.” You are preparing for the change to come. Anticipatory grief can feel as strong as grief in this way and you should not feel guilty about this. Be gentle with yourself, the way you would be gentle with a friend. Give yourself time, and be honest with yourself about what you are feeling.

Emotions may feel stronger than usual, and you may experience a variety of emotions.

These feelings could include:

Aimlessness; Anger; Apathy; Anxiety; Bitterness; Disbelief; Emptiness; Fear; Guilt; Pain; Panic; Powerlessness; Relief; Shame; Thankfulness; Uselessness

Each person grieves in his or her own way.

Grief doesn’t move in a straight line. Your grief will come in waves. Tiny reminders of your loved one may trigger big feelings. As time passes, the intensity of the grief waves will get smaller. There is no timeline, though. You will have both good and bad days. Give yourself permission to feel joy, too.

woman releasing dove

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