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In the midst of your grieving, be patient with yourself and others and do something kind for yourself each day. Be sure to ask for help when you need it.

Grieving the death of a loved one

Grieving is hard. Loss hurts. Healing takes time. We hope this guide helps.

Be sure to ask for help when you need it. Call Allina Grief Resources
at 651-628-1752.
Our grief support group and services listings may also help.

What is grief?

Grief is a whole-person response to loss. It involves our emotions, our thoughts, our bodies, our spirits, our whole selves. How do people grieve? In every way imaginable!

Some cry, others wail. Some ask questions, some want answers. Some scream or yell, others are quieter. Some want to be alone, others want friends and family close by. Some just want to keep busy, others find it hard to do much of anything. Some talk, others keep their thoughts and feelings inside.

Everyone grieves, but everyone does their grieving a little differently.

Some common responses to death
Some suggestions for grieving

Dealing with decisions

Some of the stress that is experienced after a death is caused by all the decisions that need to be made. Some decisions are personal; others involve family members, or services or businesses in the community. Making funeral plans, arranging memorials, deciding who will do what, what to do with possessions, and "How do I get on with my life?" are a few examples.

We encourage you to think about the following suggestions as decisions are made:

Practice good self-care
Take time
Explore the choices
Consider the wishes of the family
Avoid quick decisions about possessions
Seek respected counsel when needed

At the time of your loved one's death, When a loved one dies: Some things you may need to know may be a good resource. The manual can help with some of the immediate decisions, especially ones related to financial and legal matters.

When children grieve

Children grieve. Because of their age, development, and life experiences they will likely grieve in different ways than adults grieve. Children do not have the resources that adults have, but they do grieve as deeply and need our support.

Needs of children when someone dies
Things to remember about children and grief
Help children remember
Ways to encourage a child to communicate

Things that make grieving difficult

Grieving is hard. Loss hurts. It can also be difficult to see another family member or friend suffer because of the death. Furthermore, there is often not much community support for grieving people. Days off from work are limited. Things do have to be done at home, school, or on the job. Many people want those who are grieving to "get back to normal" quickly.

Getting back to normal
Loss of dreams
Deaths that are difficult to talk about
Loss overload
Second guessing
Guilt and blame
Complicated relationships

What can help?

Talking helps many people

One of the most common ways of grieving is through storytelling. People tell stories about the person who died. They tell their story of how they were related to the person. Many people remember incidents or moments of joy, delight, or pain. Whatever was true for you, find people with whom you can talk and tell your story.

In some cases, a family might have trouble talking with each other about a death. Often, family members think that by talking about it they will cause each other more pain. Other times, people just need a bit of space and time before they can talk.

What is important is to find people with whom you can talk; if not your family, then friends. Many people find support groups for people who are grieving to be very helpful.

"Finally," one person said about his support group, "I have found a place where I can talk without hesitation."

Grief support groups are offered regularly in many community settings, including several Allina Hospitals. For more information, see support groups and related services or call Allina Grief Resources at 651-628-1752.

Consider using rituals of closure
Keep some meaningful things
If people offer help, let them
Plan ahead for holidays and special occasions
Remember that grieving takes time
Rekindle hope


Allina Health Grief Resources


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Grieving the Death of a Loved One, grief-ahc-20048; Coughlin, R. (1994) Grieving: a love story. New York: HarperCollins.

First published: 06/08/2005
Last updated: 06/08/2005

Reviewed by: Allina Patient Education; Judy Young, M.Ed, Bereavement Services, Allina Hospice & Palliative Care