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Grief and Loss


Grief involves feelings of sadness and suffering after the loss of a loved one. It is a normal and healthy emotional response to a loss.


Stages of grief:

  • Shock, numbness, and denial: Even if the death of a loved one was expected, it may still come as a shock. Shock may leave you feeling numb emotionally, which may last for hours to days. You may also find it hard to accept that someone close to you has died.
  • Yearning and searching: During this time, you may get angry easily and feel anxious. You may try to hold onto the memories of the person who died. You may feel guilty because of unfinished business at the time of his death. You may not have said all the things you want to say to your loved one. You may feel guilty for being the one who is still alive.
  • Disorganized and despair: You may feel confused, lonely, and depressed. You may feel as though the pain and despair will not go away. There may be times that you separate yourself from your family or friends.
  • Reorganization: As time passes, you may learn to accept the changes in your life. You may finally be able to say goodbye to the person.

Ways to cope:

The pain of the grief process can be difficult. You may feel angry, sad, or confused. Anything that might remind you of the loss can trigger these feelings. Events, anniversaries of special times, birthdays, and holidays may also bring these emotions. The following may help you cope with the death of a loved one:

  • Give yourself plenty of time and rest: Allow yourself time to heal. Grief is not something you can rush. It may take years to heal from your loss. Ask your family, friends, and healthcare providers for help.
  • Share your thoughts and feelings: Try saying what you really feel or share stories of the one who just passed away. Often just talking to someone you trust, or crying when you need to can be a big help.
  • Seek hospice services: Hospice services work with the person during his remaining days, and also help the person's loved ones. Hospice care prepares you for your loss and offers continued help through grief programs after the person's death. Healthcare providers provide support for survivors, and check if grief counseling or psychiatric help are needed. These services give support through sad times after the death.

For support and more information:

  • National Cancer Institute
    6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
    Bethesda , MD 20892-8322
    Phone: 1- 800 - 422-6237
    Web Address:

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You cannot eat, drink, or take your medicines.
  • You feel more depressed or sad most of the time, or these feelings do not go away.
  • You need to talk about your problems and feelings.
  • You have problems with your bereavement and grief.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.
  • You are anxious or restless even after you take your medicines.
  • You feel that you cannot cope with your condition.
  • You have problems sleeping.
  • You have trouble breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Grief and Loss (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.