Grief is a normal experience associated with loss. Most of the time grief resolves over time; but on occasion people struggle with complicated grief which may be severe and require professional care. When we experience the loss of a loved one it is normal to experience a sense of deep sadness. Grief is a normal response to loss and may typically involve a wide variety of feelings ranging from emotional numbness to anger. You may experience physical changes such as weakness, trembling, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. Although some people may cope very well following the loss of a spouse, it is more common to experience some degree of emotional and spiritual distress.
There is no "normal" length of time it takes to grieve. Grieving is a very individual experience that is influenced by a wide variety of factors. Grief is a journey that begins with a deep sense of sadness which at first may feel overwhelming. As you continue the journey you will find that over time the sadness slowly becomes less intense and is later interspersed with happy memories. For most people the grieving process will be slow and gradual. Feeling sadness a year after the loss of a spouse is quite normal, especially if you were married for many years.
In normal grieving you will gradually become less consumed by your loss over time and experience renewed energy enabling you to go on with your life. Many patients benefit from attending a bereavement support group to help process through their loss. Occasionally, normal grieving can be complicated by clinical depression that may warrant treatment. If you are experiencing prolonged grief or severe and disabling symptoms such as depression, sleep or appetite disturbance or difficulty coping that is not improving over time, I advise you to consult with your physician.
Most people will not have prolonged, severe or disabling symptoms requiring the care of a physician and may benefit from bereavement services such as grief support groups. Hospice of the Valleys provides bereavement services free of charge to the families of our patients for 13 months following the loss of their loved one. We also provide no-cost community grief and support groups even if your loved one was not under our care because we feel it is the right thing to do. If you would like more information about our bereavement support services, please check us out on the web at hospiceofthevalleys.org. If you or someone you know is grieving and would like our help please contact our bereavement department during regular office hours M-F at 951-200-7800 and a member of our bereavement team will be happy to assist you in finding the most appropriate type of support for you.