If you’ve lost a loved one, you’re probably experiencing a lot of different emotions. Each feeling you experience is another step in your grieving process.
Stages of grief
Experts believe that most people go through similar stages of grief during this process. These include: denial of the loss, anger, bargaining to get your loved one or peace of mind back, depression, and finally–acceptance. Everyone moves through the grieving process at their own pace, in their own way. Some people become very quiet and thoughtful, while others cry a lot. Neither is better than the other, because both help you heal in your own way.
How long grieving lasts
There isn’t a fixed amount of time that it will take to get through each stage of the grieving process, but there are ways to help you get through it: accept your feelings, allow yourself to cry, smile, say goodbye in a letter or ceremony, avoid bottling stuff up, and talk to someone.
Talking about it
After someone dies, it can be hard for everyone to adjust. Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has died. You might not want to mention that person for fear of upsetting others, but don’t forget that your family members and friends are probably already upset, even though they might not be showing it. Friends of the person who has died might have deep feelings of grief as well. Including these people into your own grieving might help you get through your own loss. Friends may also be a great source of support.
Moving back into your routine
You often have to return to school or work before the grieving process is complete. While getting back to your routine can help you feel a sense of normalcy, it’s a good idea to talk with your teacher or boss about how you are doing, and to discuss a modified schedule if you need it. Keep in mind that difficulties with concentration and memory are common during the grieving process, and they might affect your performance.
Take time out
It’s important for you to manage how you’re feeling. It might be helpful to set aside some time in the day to deal with your thoughts. During this time, you might want to write in a journal, draw, punch a pillow or exercise to let off some steam.
Value your memories
Memories help you to remember the person you’ve lost, and over time the pain will fade into happy memories. Remember that it’s O.K. to cry and be saddened by the memories at first.
Grief can bring up many emotions or reactions and it can be a lot to handle on your own. Use your friends, family, teacher, counselor or other mental health professional to help you find balance through the healing process. If you need to talk to someone immediately, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or The Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. Both hotlines are free and have trained volunteers available to speak with you 24/7.
Acknowledgement: Portions of this fact sheet were originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.
Many articles in this section were adapted from WeRNative.org, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth