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Many people I know are grieving the loss of significant people in their lives, some happening very suddenly and unexpectedly. Dealing with the death of a parent, a dear friend, a beloved pet, a colleague, or even an acquaintance can throw us into a level of grief that is foreign and frightening. Whether the death was sudden or expected, we still feel shock at the loss, unable to take in the immenseness of the feelings.

A Death and Dying course I took in graduate school posited that a sudden death was hardest on the family and friends, yet easiest on the victim; while a slow decline and then death was horrible for the victim, but easiest for friends and family. When a death is at least somewhat expected, we have time to process the loss before it occurs. Although the death is still a tragedy, it is not a surprise.

However, when you add the element of surprise to a death, it magnifies ALL the feelings exponentially, with disbelief that it has happened compounding the horror and grief that comes after. We simply can’t take it in. We’re in shock. We may get angry, may totally shut down, or may desperately need to know “how” and “why”.

How on earth can we ever get through it?

To help answer that question, I’ll be posting a series of blog entries, “Good Grief” (is there really such a thing??), with the hope of offering comfort and concrete tools to those of you dealing with this very complex issue.

My next post, First Things First, will help you prioritize what HAS to be done now, what can wait, and HOW to get through the horrific first days after a loss. I hope you’ll join me as I walk us through this overwhelming, but necessary task of processing grief.