Your loved one has recently died. The sadness is overwhelmingly painful and seems endless as it carves a wound that feels like it will never heal.

Loss, the primary source of grief, has such a profound way of leaving us feeling empty inside. There are different kinds of losses, such as the death of a wife or husband, parent, child, friend, grandparent, and even a pet. No one kind of loss is more or less painful " just different. Someone once said that to lose a parent is to lose the past; to lose a child is to lose the future; and to lose a spouse is to lose the present.

Grief, itself, is mysterious. It seems to have a life of its own, coming and going in waves, somewhat like ocean waves that crash against the shore. One such wave crashed over me as I was checking out at the grocery store, not long after my husband died. For no reason, grief attacked and I couldn't stop nor hide the tears. It was not my doing. Grief was in control. I was not.

Even though grief must run its course and cannot be stopped, there are ways that we can cope with it. It is, however important to realize that there is no one right way to deal with grief and loss. Each person must find the strategies that work for him or her. Some suggestions that have worked for others are:

Talk it through

For most people, talking about their feelings and their loss is helpful. It defuses the pain. For some, this is very difficult as they may lack experience or skill in self-expression.

Lean on your faith

For those who believe in God, or a higher power, this can be a comforting and guiding source of strength. Prayer and the belief in life after death"that you can be with your loved one again"can be extremely powerful for those who believe in them.

Accept the help of family and friends

There may be an urge to withdraw from interaction with others when you are grieving but the support of family and friends can be invaluable. They may not say exactly the right words needed for comfort but they mean well and, most importantly, they care and are there for you.

How long will grief last?

There is no defined length of time for grief's journey. Again, it is different for each of us but when grief begins to gradually let go of us, we need to let go of grief. Some people hold on to grief for various reasons when it is time to gradually move forward. It is tricky to know exactly when the time is right but one clue is when the waves become less intense and further apart. That is the time when you create a new normal (because you will never get back normal life as it was before the loss).

Will grief ever go away?

Yes! The emptiness you feel and the yearning for your loved one will most likely remain forever as will the memories that remain to sustain you. But the yearning won't always take the form of grief. Life will be different, but there is hope. Trust tomorrow.

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