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Thu, July 18

Awareness of mourning process can help you get through crisis

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Most readers of this Counselor's Column have experienced a death of a loved one, and know first-hand that this can cause a major emotional crisis. But getting through that crisis is possible. It's important to be aware of what your body and your mind are experiencing in terms of stress related to this loss.

When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Many people report feeling an initial stage of numbness after first learning of a death, but there is no real order to the grieving process.

The website www.mentalhealthamerica.net offers a wealth of information on dealing with grief, and just part of it is shared here. Some emotions you may experience include:

• Denial

• Disbelief

• Confusion

• Shock

• Sadness

• Yearning

• Anger

• Humiliation

• Despair

• Guilt

These feelings are normal and common reactions to loss. You may not be prepared for the intensity and duration of your emotions or how swiftly your moods may change. You may even begin to doubt the stability of your mental health. But be assured that these feelings are healthy and appropriate and will help you come to terms with your loss.

It is not easy to cope after a loved one dies. You will mourn and grieve. Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss. Mourning may include religious traditions honoring the dead or gathering with friends and family to share your loss. Mourning is personal and may last months or years.

Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally and psychologically. For instance, crying is a physical expression, while depression is a psychological expression.

It is very important to allow yourself to express these feelings. Often, death is a subject that is avoided, ignored or denied. At first, it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain, but you cannot avoid grieving forever. Someday those feelings will need to be resolved, or they may cause physical or emotional illness.

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