The following thoughts on coping with a loss are offered by Father Kenneth Czillinger of Cincinnati, Ohio, who for the past 10 years has been involved in working with the dying and grieving.
- Generally it takes 18-24 months just to stabilize after the death of a family member. It can take much longer when the death was a violent one. Recognize the length of the mourning process. Beware of developing unrealistic expectations of yourself.
- Your worst times usually are not at the moment when a tragic event takes place. Then you're in a state of shock or numbness. Often you slide "into the pits" 4-7 months after the event. Strangely, when you're in the pits and tempted to despair, this may be the time when most people expect you to be over your loss.
- When people ask you how you're doing, don't always say, "fine". Let some people know how terrible you feel.
- Talking with a true friend or with others who've been there and survived can be very helpful. Those who've been there speak your language. Only they can really say, "I know, I understand." You are not alone.
- Often depression is a cover for anger. Learn to uncork your bottle and find appropriate ways to release your bottled-up anger. What you're going through seems so unfair and unjust.
- It's all right to cry, to question, to be weak. Beware of allowing yourself to be "put on a pedestal" by others who tell you what an inspiration you are because of your strength and your ability to cope so well. If they only knew!
- Remember you may be a rookie at the grief experience you're going through. This may be the first death of someone close. You're new at this, and you don't know what to do or how to act. You need help.
- Reach out and try to help others in some small ways at least. This little step forward may help prevent you from dwelling on yourself.
- Many time of crisis ultimately can become times of opportunity. Mysteriously your faith in yourself, in others and God can be deepened through crisis. Seek out persons who can serve as symbols of hope to you.