Grief is a normal emotional and physical response that can occur when we have experienced a significant loss and/or change in our lives. The death of someone we love results in emotional responses such as disbelief, anger, guilt, depression and a feeling of emptiness. Physical symptoms can include sleeplessness, loss of concentration, the feeling of detachment, and numbness.
It can take anywhere from two to five years to readjust after a death of a loved one. Each person will react in their own unique way. There are certain chemicals released by the grieving person, sometimes for months after the death, which is normal. These chemicals change the way we think and feel. Often a birthday, Christmas and the first anniversary of the death of a loved one are especially difficult times.
For anyone dealing with grief, Christmas and the holidays can be a time of sadness, pain, anger, or dread. It can be difficult to cope, especially when you see the sights and sounds of holiday happiness all around you.
This video with Dr Alan Wolfelt, author, educator and leading grief counsellor provides some practical ways to assist you in maintaining mental health wellness during the holidays. Dr Wolfelt will provide you with some practical tips to not only survive any potential holidays blues, but also outline some ways you can potentially thrive.
Children from the ages of three to four are aware that someone is missing and need to be involved with the family in the funeral if they so choose. Children under the age of three need to be kept in their routine with primary care givers as much as possible. Older children will often outwardly copy adults in their grieving e.g. crying or not crying, while inwardly having their own grief reactions as individuals.
In times of grief, people need acceptance of their emotions for however long it takes for them to heal. Providing help with practical tasks such as shopping, cooking or minding children is very helpful for the person grieving. Often the grieving person is afraid that others are ‘sick of them’ and will not ask for help. Phone the grieving person on a regular basis, with their permission, just to show you care. Allow them to grieve in their own way.
People who are grieving need to know you will not judge or devalue their feelings by using clichés such as ‘at least he didn’t suffer’. What you can say to a grieving person is something like ‘I wish I had the words to ease the pain you are going through right now’
We all need a helping hand, particularly at a time of uncertainty, grief and bereavement. If you or anyone you know is in need of help in dealing with loss, we have provided a list of support groups and organisations that may be able to help you. Whilst we support the service providers we do not affiliate ourselves with any particular group. This list is provided for assistance only.
The death of someone close to you can be a painful time and there can be a lot to organise. The Australian Death Notification Service lets you notify multiple organisations such as financial, insurance and superannuation institutions, utility providers and more of a death through one simple, secure online platform, reducing the number of difficult conversations. Supported by Registry’s of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Australian Death Notification Service can help you begin the death administration process.
Grief is like being on a roller-coaster, your emotions can change from day to day or even hour to hour. When grieving, we need to be kind to ourselves and not make judgements on our own behaviour. If you find yourself having a good day, enjoy it, the next day could be completely different.
Looking for more information? The AFDA have complied a series of informative brochures relating to the funeral industry and a detailed list of the next steps in the funeral planning process.
Guidance on Managing Deceased Estates – www.ato.gov.au/deceased-estates
For Funeral Assistance – www.dva.gov.au
Help after someone has died – www.centrelink.gov.au
Information for ‘Next of Kin’ and beneficiaries of deceased members of the Australian Defence Force – www.defence.gov.au/DCO/Military-life/difficult-times/death-bereavement.asp
Death Overseas – www.smartraveller.gov.au
A Consumer Guide to Funerals – Phone: 13 32 20 – www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Support when a person dies – Phone: (03) 9656 9443 – www.tac.vic.gov.au