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Healing from Grief as a Family

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Healing from Grief as a Family


Losing a loved one is probably the most difficult and stressful event a family can endure. While death is an inevitable part of life, the accompanying shock, pain and confusion can throw the family into disequilibrium. When a family grieves, the loss can be so devastating that it can bring about intense emotions expressed by each person in the unit differently. Grieving is an important process, and during this period, the specific emotions of family members must be addressed in order to come to terms with the loss and move on with life.

In this difficult time of grieving, the family can be at its best or worse. Although there is the desire to regain a sense of balance and retrieve a sense of peace, the loss of a member can be a source of conflict and put a strain on families. Recognizing that each one responds to death and grieves differently can enable families to grieve and heal together as a whole.


Understanding Family Grief

Grief is a natural response when you lose someone or something significant to you. The more significant the loss, the more intense the emotional pain is. The death of a close family member often brings about the most intense type of grief, but there are other losses that can cause grief, as well. This may include:


  • Loss of health
  • Loss of a relationship
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of financial stability
  • Loss of family home
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • Miscarriage
  • Death of a pet
  • Serious illness of a loved one
  • Retirement


Grief is a highly individual experience, without a right or wrong way to express it. As a family, the response and intensity of grief depend on a number of factors, including:


  • The manner of death
  • Relationship or attachment to the deceased
  • Your personality
  • Life experience
  • Belief about death
  • Support system


The grieving process has no set timetable. Healing may occur in some family members gradually, but it may take more time for others. Each of you has your own grieving style and while caught up in your own grief, you may fail to see the impact of the loss on the other members. The larger the family, the more difficult to understand why there are different reactions.

Men tend to take an active approach during this difficult time. As they face the loss of a loved one, they focus on goal-oriented activities, like fishing or other diversions. Such activities do not only give them a sense of accomplishment, but also allow them to escape the difficulty of grief. If they cry, they usually do it alone.

Women, intuitive as they are, tend to be more open with their feelings. They may feel comfortable talking with others who are willing to listen. All too often, if there is frequent crying, they may fear criticism for being too sentimental or sensitive.

Like adults, children and adolescents in the family grieve as well, but express their grief differently. The symptoms may come and go, changing in intensity over time. Having little experience with crisis and its consequences can result in a simpler grieving style. They may even try to hide the intensity of their grief.


The Impact of Grief in the Family

Failure to understand and accept the different grieving styles can “aggravate” each family member during a very difficult time when the support of everyone to confront, endure, and work through the many effects of the loss is critical. Although there is grief to process, behaviors can be misunderstood, needs may be ignored, and expectations may not be met.

The key is tolerating and respecting the way people around you express their grief. They are undergoing the same tasks of mourning and processing the loss of a loved one just like you. More than an emotional expression, grief can affect a family physically, behaviorally, socially and spiritually.

Grief poses unique challenges when it impacts a family. Couples may struggle with accepting each other’s grieving style. As parents, they may find it challenging to achieve serenity following the loss of a member and maintain the previous sense of order at home. The children may feel abandoned and lost as they crave more love, attention and guidance from their grief-stricken parents. Sibling grief can be downplayed. Processing grief differently can create tension in the family dynamics.


The Road to Healing

Sadly, there is no other path around grief. The route to recovery is like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs, highs and lows, along with the different rates of healing. The ride may be rough in the beginning as you face the reality of the loss and feel the pain. The lows may be deeper and longer as time goes by, especially on special occasions when the sense of grief is strongly felt.

Some members may try to suppress, delay, or numb the pain, but it takes other family members to pull the others up and acknowledge the need to mourn. Each one in the family holds onto something of the person who is gone. Each one embraces and preserves a different memory of their loved one. Losing a dear relative can be the most painful experience for your family. The difficult and unexpected emotions can be unbearable and may disrupt your functioning.

The good thing is that grief can also bring about opportunities, especially when the family comes together to reach out to each other. Apart from the realization of your own mortality, each of you may become more mature and responsible. Your grief can bring you closer together, teaching you to empathize, understand and care for each other. The bond created when you grieve together as a family is stronger than any other force– even death.


 Grieving and Healing as a Family

Though grief-related emotions are deeply personal, grief is also a family affair. It is a complex experience that can plunge the entire unit into chaos. The death of a member breaks the family chain, and everyone struggles to repair that broken chain. Each one mourns their own personal loss in their own individual way. It does not mean, though, that families cannot reach out and support each other even if they grieve differently.

The grieving process can be slow, arduous and isolating. The pain can cause members to withdraw from each other and retreat into their own shell. It is not unusual for some symptoms, such as profound sadness, guilt, anger, insomnia, weight loss, etc. to affect some members. The desire to ease complicated grief and painful loss is one of the 9 good reasons to seek counseling now.

If you or your family’s grief is persistent and severe, it is crucial to accept support instead of grieving alone. Bringing grief to a close can be successful with the help of a licensed professional to work with you and your family to process your loss and find peace. Seeking help to end your grief does not mean you want to forget your loved one or stop loving them.

The truth is your life will never be the same again because someone you loved has died. Grieving for them will help you find a new life order not only for yourself, but also for other family members. With the help of the right fit therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC, the grief you and your family feel can be alleviated. Eventually, you can accept your loss, find new meaning, and anticipate the future with some enthusiasm.


Contact us today to request an appointment for your first session.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC
Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bowmore NC, Autryville NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Pineview NC, Rex NC, Lemon Springs NC, Johnsonville NC, Eastover NC, Stedman NC and Wade, NC
Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fayetteville, NC