Losing someone you love is always difficult, but when the death is from war, it can be even harder to deal with. War causalities are usually violent and often sudden. Although there are usual stages one goes through when grieving, bereavement is compounded by the intensity of feelings surrounding the loss of a loved one in battle.
Common reactions to grief include denial, anger, bargaining, anger, and finally acceptance. What many people don’t know is that you can go through these stages again and again when the grief is complicated and you may experience them for much longer periods of time than someone who has an expected loss.
In addition to the stages of grief, many people report physical symptoms too including stomach pain, headaches, sleep disturbances, and depression to name a few. Your energy level can drop and you may find it difficult to think straight and that your ability to recall things is greatly hampered. Grief can be a real pain…but it’s also something that is a necessary part of coping with your loss.
Grief is a normal response to an abnormal situation. Your body and mind must adjust to the changes that you are experiencing due to your loss. Your role may change. You may have gone from spouse to single parent, or to head of household. Your responsibilities may increase, especially if you are now a single parent. Realize that your life will change, that adjustments will have to be made, and that those changes will likely cause you some anxiety.
But also be aware that there will come an end to the time of grieving. Will you ever stop missing the friend or partner you’ve lost? No. Nor will you forget. But you will learn to define life anew and to form new supports and ways of coping that will get you through. Some ways of helping the grieving process along include:
• Take care of yourself! This is not the time to put off that annual checkup just because you’re too tired to go. You need to eat properly, monitor your drinking and drug use so it doesn’t turn into abuse, and get enough rest and exercise.
• Depend on your friends and family for support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from them if you need it. Talk about how you feel – you need to experience those feelings in order for healing to come.
• Be patient with yourself. Try not to dwell on the negative, but accept that it’s going to take some time to get through this.
• Seek professional help when you need it. Grief counselors specialize in helping you learn to express and cope with your grief.
Grieving is hard work. There is no way around it. But, there is another side and you will get there…one step at a time.