The death of a loved one, family member or close friend can be one of the most difficult times of anyone's life. We often think about the difficulty of planning a funeral service or knowing what to say or how to react to those stricken by a loss. For some people, the most difficult time is weeks, months or even years following a loss.
Grief is defined as the natural response to loss. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Grief is not always associated with death. It also can be felt in response to a relationship breakup, loss of a job, friendship or even the loss of a pet. Every individual is different in how they face and react to the grief they are encountering. Some may cope with grief in a relatively short period of time and others may take a much greater period to work through their loss.
Common symptoms of grief can include shock, sadness, guilt, fear and physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and lowered immunity. Grief can manifest itself long after an event such as a death has occurred. A holiday, anniversary or something as simple as a person's favorite song on the radio can cause a time of both unexpected and intense grief.
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Sharing the loss makes the burden of grief much easier to carry. In dealing with grief, many people turn to friends and family members for support and may draw comfort from faith helping to sustain the healing process. Joining a support group or possibly talking with a therapist or counselor can help someone cope with the intense emotions which they feel.
While dealing with a loss of any type, it is important to take steps to help the healing process succeed. It is important that the person grieving face their feelings. Suppressing the grief will only prolong its effects. Looking after one's physical health is vitally important. Getting enough sleep, eating right and remaining physically active will help to maintain a body which is physically and emotionally strong.
If you live in the Elkins area and need resources in which to help in dealing with loss, where do you turn? Most funeral homes can provide grief resource information. At Tomblyn Funeral Home, we provide families with a brochure which explains the many facets of grief, recommended actions taken to cope with grief and local sources of grief support. We also provide written material in regard to specific topics such as loss of parents, children, spouses, etc., as well as grief support materials for children and adolescents. By entering our website, www.tomblynfuneralhome.com, anyone can gain information from our E-Aftercare Section featuring Dr. Virginia Simpson, a grief counselor. This affords everyone the ability to gain needed assistance in coping with grief in the convenience of their home or office.
Other local sources of grief support may be obtained through mental health facilities, support groups and church groups. Hospice groups such as Hospice Care Corp. and Mountain Hospice have trained staff to assist those dealing with grief.
Kimberly Short Wolfe is a local grief counselor who has orchestrated support groups in the past and is available to meet with individuals for private counseling if needed.
(Mark Tomblyn is part owner, funeral director and licensee in charge at Tomblyn Funeral Home in Elkins. For more information, call 304-636-5595.)