Expressing emotions at time of grief is natural part of the process

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 4, 2012

What role do emotions play in grief? This is a very important question that should be explored.

The simple fact is that we express emotion in times of loss. With the realization of the loss that confronts us, there comes the need to express the grief that is inside us. This expression of grief may be the emotional shedding of tears, the need to scream to vent rage or anger, or yielding to physical expression as an emotional outlet for grief.

A crisis is the trigger that places individuals in the position of dealing with emotions. Essentially crisis events are changes in our world that necessitate emotional adjustment on our part.

Email newsletter signup

It is at this point that some feel it is necessary for a person in crisis to hide all emotional response. Over the years young boys have been taught that they should not cry. As they grow and experience different kinds of pain, boys are taught that they should not express emotions.

Then as men when they have their whole world blow up in their faces, they find themselves as men who are unable to handle the situation in front of them emotionally.

By this time they cannot cry at all. Many men are convinced that crying is a sign of weakness and if they give into the emotion, they will experience an emotional breakdown.

Here are some tips for dealing with emotions in grief. First, face your feelings. Don’t try to avoid the feelings. It is important to acknowledge the pain that you are experiencing.

Second, creatively express your feelings. Some people find emotional release by writing a journal about their journey through grief. Others benefit by writing a letter to a lost loved one expressing thoughts and emotions that they may never have been able to admit to the deceased loved one.

Explore other ways that may assist you as you journey through the grief process.

Third, take care of your health. It is important for a person to get sufficient sleep, eat right, and exercise. When a person feels good physically, it is easier to feel good emotionally.

Fourth, don’t allow others to tell you how you should feel. Grief is personal. Therefore, no one else truly knows how you feel! And no one can tell you to “get over it.”

It is okay to feel different emotions during the time you deal with grief. It is okay to be angry, or to laugh, or cry, or whatever other emotion that you experience in the process. Remember, it’s okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready!

Fifth, plan ahead for those holidays, anniversaries, and any other dates that re-open painful memories. It is important to be honest with yourself, your family, and others as to what you feel you can or cannot do during those times.

Don’t forget to give your family permission to enjoy the holidays or special dates as well. Remember that everyone grieves differently.

Thus give your family and friends permission to grieve in their own ways as well!


Dennis R. Tate is a spiritual and bereavement counselor with Community Hospice, Inc. He can be reached at 740-532-8841.