Bereavement Newsletters


Monthly bereavement newsletters provide information on the grief process. Each newsletter offers timely information and provides suggestions in dealing with grief at different stages. We have received many positive comments of the insight, comfort and peace these writings have brought to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

If you feel a newsletter would be beneficial for you or someone you care about, please contact Iowa River Hospice and we would be pleased to send you a copy.

The following is a portion of a bereavement newsletter sent at approximately 2 months after a loss:

Good Grief

Grief is natural to any healthy person who has suffered a loss. To experience it is as painful as it is crucial. Suppressed grief can make us ill. Unresolved grief keeps us from returning to the real world. Granger Westberg, a pastor who served on the faculty of the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago, has written a very helpful book titled Good Grief, which explores the good aspects of grief. Through his studies he found that people in sorrow tend to follow a pattern leading them to different stages. These are the stages most people must go through as they face up to their loss and get back into the mainstream of life.

This article is a summary of Dr. Westberg’s experiences with the “grief process.” As your Iowa River Hospice friends, we care about you as you deal with your loss. We hope sharing this with you will help you continue working through your feelings.

It is important to remember that grief is a very personal experience. Everyone does not necessarily go through all these stages, nor does a person go through them in a particular order. You may leave a stage only to return to it again later. Moreover, it is impossible to differentiate clearly between each of these stages, for a person never moves neatly from one stage to another.

Stage One – A State of Shock

God has so made us that we can somehow bear pain, sorrow and even tragedy. When sorrow is overwhelming, sometimes our response to a tragic experience is temporarily anesthetized. The shock response keeps us from having to face grim reality all at once. (Shock is a temporary escape from reality.) The shock stage may last from a few minutes to a few hours to a few days. As long as it is temporary, it is good. If someone prefers to remain in this dream world rather than face the reality of their loss, obviously it would be very unhealthy. This is one of the reasons why it is good for us to keep fairly busy and continue to carry on as many of our usual activities as possible. The sooner a person deals with immediate problems and makes decisions again, the better.

Stage Two – We Express Emotion

Emotional release comes at about the time it begins to dawn on us how dreadful this loss is. Sometimes without warning there wells up within us an uncontrollable urge to express our grief. This is exactly what we ought to do: Allow ourselves to express the emotions we feel. We have been given tear glands, and we are supposed to use them when we have a good reason. We must not and we need not apologize for emotion in our grief. To bottle it up unnecessarily is to do ourselves harm. If we are too embarrassed to grieve openly, we should find a way to release these emotions when we are alone.

Stage Three – We Feel Depressed and Very Lonely

Eventually there comes a feeling of utter depression and isolation. It is during these days we are sure that no one else has ever grieved this way. It is true, no one has ever grieved exactly as we are grieving because no two people face the same kind of loss in the same way. But the awful experience of being utterly depressed and isolated is a universal phenomenon. When we find ourselves in the depth of despair, as some readers may be even at this moment, we should remind ourselves that this is to be expected following any significant loss. Remember such depression is normal and a part of good healthy grief.

One way to describe depression is to say it is like a very dark day when the clouds have blacked out the sun so that everyone says, “the sun isn’t shining today.” The sun is shining, but something has come between the person and his fellow man. We feel a tremendous loneliness; an awful sense of isolation. There seems no way to break through it. We think thoughts that we would never have thought otherwise. We may think that God does not care or even doubt that there is a God.

We must always remember a depression experience will one day pass. Dark days do not last forever. The clouds are always moving, through very slowly.

© Iowa River Hospice 2019