Loss of a Loved One

For everything there is a season...a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance... Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

The loss of a loved one is one of the greatest challenges in life. The pain you are feeling is likely devastating. A better day will come; however, a healthy resolution of the loss involves considerable time and successful passage through the grieving process.

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars... Charles Beard

Please understand that acceptance of the loss is the first step toward healing. Denial of this harsh reality is common; particularly following a sudden unexpected death but the grieving process does not begin until acknowledgement has occurred.

Everyone can master a grief but he that has it... William Shakespeare

We hope that you are not alone in this process. Sharing the pain with trusted family and friends is crucial. Tragic loss reminds us of our own mortality and often heightens our sense of vulnerability and isolation. The healing process is enhanced when you are able to speak about the intense emotional feelings that accompany the loss. Family members may react very differently; respect each other's need to express yourselves, grieve and heal in your own way and at your own pace. This not only helps you to express and work though painful emotions, but also reaffirms your trust in significant family members and friends.

...All those who try to go it sole alone, Too proud to be beholden for relief, Are absolutely sure to come to grief... Robert Frost

Honor the memory of the deceased loved one. Participation in the funeral and burial services is a helpful start along this road. Consider planning events with family and friends commemorating positive aspects of the lost loved one's life. This helps to keep the memory alive.

This we owe our beloved dead, whether young or old: to wipe from our memories all that was less than their best, and to carry them in our hearts at their wisest, most compassionate, most creative moments. Is that not what all of us hope from those who survive us?.. Elizabeth Watson

We all know the best of relationships have highs and lows. Unresolved conflict or resentment related to disappointments in the relationship is particularly troubling in the grieving process. Sometimes a sense of anger related to abandonment is felt. Honest acknowledgment of these feelings is difficult but critical to the healing process.

We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full... Marcel Proust

Letting go involves saying good-bye at an emotional level. This takes time and a successful passage through all phases of the grieving process. Moving on requires that you rebuild hopes, and aspirations for the present and for the future. When the time is right you must again commit to full participation in life.

I will not try to hide or walk around it. I will walk through the center of my sorrow and I will emerge - proud and strong... Martha Whitmore Hickman

Suggested Reading

Bowlby, J, (1989). The making and breaking of affectional bonds. London, Tavistock Publications
Crenshaw, DA, (1989). Bereavement. New York, Crossroad
Kubler-Ross, E (1968). On Death and Dying. New York, MacMillan
Hickman, MW (1994). Healing After Loss. New York, Avon Books


Counseling For Loss
Counseling for Loss and Life Changes. This organization's site deals with loss of loved ones and resulting life changes. It includes a chat room, grief resources, and inspirational writings.
Grief Relief
Grief Relief by Victor Parachin. Guidance on grieving provided by the National Funeral Directors Association.