Suggestions to Help With Your Grieving

  • As you already know, grief is work, so you need to get plenty of rest and eat a nutritious diet.
  • Avoid the use of alcohol, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and other drugs. These give only temporary relief and complicate the grieving process. Feeling the pain is one of the necessary tasks of grieving your loss.
  • Try to get some daily exercise even if it is just a short walk. Exercise can help manage your anger and frustration.
  • Ask for and accept support from family and friends. They will be eager to help but are often unsure about what to do. Let them know what you need.
  • Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings. This provides you with a way to express yourself and a perspective on your progress.
  • Talk about your feelings and thoughts with someone who listens well and will not tell you how you should be feeling. Speaking with your rabbi, minister, or priest may be helpful at this time.
  • If you find yourself preoccupied with the donation of organs or tissues and worrying about what was done to the body of your loved one, talk with the transplant coordinator about your concerns.
  • Be gentle with yourself about the time needed for you to grieve. When people indicate that “you should be over this”, gently remind them that each person’s grief is different and tell them how they can help you.
  • Avoid getting over-involved with work and other activities. While work provides some necessary relief and structure, you also need time to think and experience the pain of your grief. If all the hours of your day are filled with activities – leaving no time for anything else – you may be avoiding your feelings. Try to find a balance.
  • Delay major decisions until after the acute stage of grief when you will be able to think more clearly. Moving or changing jobs will drain you of energy and complicate the grieving process.
  • Reading books on grief related to the type of loss you have experienced can be very comforting and provide you with more understanding of your grief experience. Ask the LifeNet Health Donor Family Advocate for a bibliography.
  • Find ways to take a break from grief like going to a funny movie or reading a good novel. It is okay for you to laugh and have fun because this provides relief and helps to create a balance in your life.
  • Share memories about your loved one. This can help you feel closer to the person and ease your pain. Putting together a picture album about the life of the person can provide comfort and a way to share memories.
  • If after six months you see no improvement in your ability to function or at anytime you have thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or die, you may be experiencing a depression that requires professional help. Talk with a mental health professional about the difficulties you are having.
  • Holidays and special days such as the anniversary of your loved one’s birth or death can be difficult because the person’s absence is more pronounced. This may be true for many years. Plan ahead for how you will spend this time and develop some rituals for remembering your loved one. For example, light a candle at mealtimes or play his or her favorite music.
  • The belongings of your loved one can provide comfort for you. Smelling the clothing and looking at the things can help you feel close to him or her. The decision of what to do with the things should be made by you and those close to the person. Make this decision only when you are ready.
  • If you are a survivor of suicide you may tend to isolate yourself because of the guilt and shame you may feel. It is important that you seek the help of a support group for survivors to help you understand the confusing feelings and to receive some support. Ask your transplant coordinator or the LifeNet Health Donor Family Advocate for a list of available support groups.
  • Obtaining counsel from an accountant or lawyer regarding management of the affairs of an estate or will can help you to feel confident that these matters are being handled properly. This can help reduce your stress.
  • Being touched, held, or hugged by someone who cares about you can be very healing. A massage can help to reduce the effects of stress on your body and provide comfort.
  • Spiritual readings in line with your beliefs may help give you some perspective and sustain you through this time.