When someone you love dies, your grief can't be planned or mapped out. Grieving is a unique and natural experience because of your unique relationship with the person who died.
Grief can encompass many physical symptoms - an upset stomach, a tightening in the throat, actual pain around the heart, headaches, difficulty breathing, exhaustion, an inability to concentrate and forgetfulness. Some people describe grief as numbness, or feeling like the wind has been knocked out of them. Feelings of anxiety, fear and anger - even anger toward the deceased - aren't uncommon.
Grief can last one year, two years or even longer. In that time, you may find things go well for awhile, and then with no warning, you may be overtaken by a wave of grief.
The February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers suggestions on ways to deal with grief:
Share your story: It's important to put your feelings into words. A close friend or family member who can act as a sounding board is invaluable as you struggle to sort through feelings. Don't be afraid to let the tears flow. Crying can release sadness along with anger, guilt, loneliness and exhaustion.
Put words to paper: Keep a journal. Write letters to your deceased loved one - share regrets, things you wanted to say that never got said, how you feel, what you miss.
Join a support group: Talking with others who understand and share the experience of grief can be a healing gift to you.
Be kind to yourself: Grief affects your mind, body and soul. Do what you can to care for yourself with a healthy diet, exercise and adequate sleep.
Seek professional help if needed: If the intense disabling part of grief lasts longer than two months, talk with your doctor. You could be dealing with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, seek professional help if you resort to using excessive amounts of drugs or alcohol to deal with your grief.