Dealing with the Grief Work of Death

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 1997

What You Should Do

  1. If you are comfortable in praying, say a prayer for the Lord to comfort your loved ones and you at this time. Ask God for help in making the funeral arrangements, so you will have the mental capacity to think clearly enough to make good decisions, also for help in knowing what to say and do for your family.
  2. If you are affiliated with a church group, contact the pastor/bishop, or his/her counterpart so s/he can give aid to your family and you. S/He may also be able to help you with the funeral arrangements.
  3. It is best to talk out your feelings instead of holding them in. Find someone you can trust and talk to. This can be a close friend and/or a religious leader.
  4. Friends can be a support and comfort. Don't send them away.   Death does funny things to people.  Do not expect that they will always be there for you.  Many do not know what to do or say to someone who has lost a loved one or someone who is dying, so instead of doing the wrong thing they stay away. Don't hold this against them. They are just afraid. Death makes people afraid.  Invite them over to have some one-on-one time together. They will be a bit uncomfortable, so be gracious and make them fill at ease. Just talk with them about your feelings. This will enable you to get your feelings sorted out and it will help you retain your friendship with them.
  5. Getting your grief out by talking is enabling you to take the sting out of the death. The more it is talked about the less the sting.

Things You Should Know

  1. Is there a life after death?   It is only normal to think of such things. There are those who have studied it out from teachings of their religion and scriptures and have made a decision that these things were true. Then, they asked God if they were right.  It is these people that do not have to worry if there is an afterlife because they have gotten an answer from God.  They know that it is true! You can have this same testimony from God. Just study it out. Make a decision and then ask God if your decision is right. This is a major step in grief work.  Knowing that this is not the end and that you may once again see those you are going to leave behind or who have gone on before you, gives comfort and enables you to continue on.
  2. Your loved ones and you will be experiencing specific behaviors gone through by all those who are experiencing death or dying or have had a loved one pass on. Many of these steps may be repeated, skipped, or may happen in any order. They are:

Denial - Denying that the death has occurred or is going to occur.

Anger Angry, because it has or is going to happen. Some express anger against God. How could He let this happen? Why me! Why now!

Bargaining - Many try to bargain with God, saying that if He spares their loved one or themselves from death that they promise to do certain things to gain release from the impending death.

Depression - When bargaining hasn't worked, an individual may go into depression. Those who have suffered a loss of a loved one tend to go into a form of depression.

* Forms of depression may be sadness, inactivity, difficulty thinking and concentrating, a significant increase or decrease in appetite, and/or time spent sleeping, feeling of dejection and hopelessness, having suicidal thoughts, and/or suicide.

Acceptance - Finally when the person has exhausted all avenues to thwart death they come to except it and plan for it. Those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, in this stage, try to get on with their lives. Many find the solace to do this in realizing that there is life after death and that they may see the loved one again. This is a testimony gained through personal prayer with one's God.

  1. The anguish and emotional upheaval from the death of a loved one takes at approximately one year to get one's public emotions under control.
  2. It takes an additional two to five years to get internal emotions under control to get through special anniversary dates like birth dates and holidays. It's hard to gain control while being constantly reminded of the deceased through special songs, smells, colors, clothing, places, history, and mutual friends. Don't expect to get over the death easily. Pray often for the Lord to help your loved ones and you get through these times.
  3. By the same token, if you are constantly depressed and prefer isolation or have suicidal thoughts, you need psychological help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Get help NOW!


Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth (1969) Death and Dying