Whether it is the death of a public figure like Kobe Bryant or of a beloved family member or friend, loss can stir myriad, and often difficult, emotions: disbelief, sadness, anger, loneliness, fear, guilt, sorrow, pain, regret and despair. For those experiencing these feelings, it is important to give yourself permission to express them with someone you trust, says Gina Kornfeind, MSW, MS, a pediatric palliative care social worker and bereavement counselor and coordinator at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Doing so is not sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength, she says. Kornfeind offers several suggestions to help those who are confronting loss and grief understand and respond to their feelings.
Your feelings are
normal. They are a part of the emotional reaction called “grief.” Grief is not
linear. You may go in and out of many emotions and feelings.
Now and then your
feelings of grief may be so intense that you may not understand what is
happening or feel numb. This can be protective. You may consider professional
counseling and support.
There is no
“right way” to grieve. Grief is unique and individual.
Guilt is a normal
part of grief (real or imagined).
Crying is a
healthy expression of grief and can be cleansing.
major decisions too quickly.
be taken ONLY under the supervision of your doctor.
support system. Tell people, family and/or friends what you need — whether it is help or privacy.
Allow time and
space for your emotional needs. Be compassionate with yourself.
stressful times within grief include holidays and anniversaries of your loved
yourself. The pain does lessen. You can find healing and hope for the future.
Know that you will survive.