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Dealing with the loss of a loved one

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, October 11, 2010

Updated: Monday, October 11, 2010 13:10


Life is fragile, but resilient. Whether short lived or full of rewarding experiences, the memories of a loved one live on forever. Recently, a friend of mine experienced the loss of his father to a long fight against a chronic bout of cancer, returning to metastasize in his lungs after a long period of remission. Instantly, I remembered when I lost a loved one of my own. The overwhelming shock of never seeing the smiling face of my friend and hearing his contagious laughter shook me over for a week until his funeral, continuing to haunt me for some time afterwards. What bothered me most about my reaction was how I was more emotional over his death than the loss of my own relatives. Was this unnatural? Is there a certain way I’m supposed to grieve?

Grieving the loss of a loved one, whether they are of blood or special bond, comes and goes in different ways. Accepting the situation is one of the hardest parts, knowing that you need to start letting go and realize that they aren’t coming back. For some, the reassurance of a rendezvous in the future from heavenly guidance helps the most. Though we all don’t possess the same beliefs, faith in general of the capability of moving forward makes a difference.

Going through grief alone can make the journey harsher on the soul. In April of 2009, my friends and I insisted on traveling together to Sparta, North Carolina, as a support system for the funeral of our friend. Being together made it easier to relax and let my emotions come and go without fear of being judged. Not all of us have the full support or resource of friends nearby. Local churches and organizations provide alternatives for those who do not have the support you need. By joining a support group, the realization that you are not alone in the grieving process will help you to move forward. It is important to discover you are not being singled out and punished for the mistakes you’ve made through the death of someone you cherish.

Growth and healing comes with the appreciation of memories. Just because someone has moved on to the afterlife doesn’t mean you have to let go of him or her entirely as well. The idea is not to focus on the moments that make you regret your time together, but how fulfilling and enriching they were in your life. Remembering the happier times makes it easier to heal, knowing that the time they did spend on this earth was spent joyously and wasn’t a waste.

Time heals all wounds, but too much time could mean there are unresolved issues. Unresolved grief normally occurs when you don’t have the opportunity to grieve properly. Traumatic losses or suicides during childhood or adolescence can make grieving particularly difficult. Problems that occur due to unresolved grief include regular nightmares or trouble sleeping, continuous feelings of emptiness, abuse of drugs or alcohol, or the contemplation of suicide to “join” the deceased loved one. If you have any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your local physician or the UNCG Health and Wellness Center.

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