When it comes to dealing with the death of a close friend or loved one, "feeling is healing."

Dennis D. Ashton, of LDS Family Services' Farmington office, says many people don't realize that mourning is natural and necessary. They also might second-guess themselves or feel guilty about what they might have done to prevent a death. But what they need to do, he says, is allow mourning and the grief process to take place.

Losing a friend or loved one suddenly is traumatic. Shock — and even depression — can set in. Ashton says the natural tendency is to "grieve in the shadows" and put on the everything-is-fine mask. Those around you want you to be fine and be over your loss. But that's not the way it works.

He says that after the death of a loved one, it takes 18 to 24 months to feel significantly different. He offers these suggestions for getting through that time:

• Share your feelings. Talk from the mind and heart about how you feel. Words, emotions and tears are all important.

• Do your best not to cut yourself off from social situations.

• Ask yourself, "Am I sleeping, eating and taking care of myself?" If not, change.

• Read, listen to others and consider attending support groups so you can be around others who are grieving.

• Recognize and accept that it will take time. Ashton says we tend to think in terms of weeks and months, but we should think of months and years.

• Don't panic if you have a relapse. "We don't grieve less with time," Ashton said, "but we grieve less often with time."

• Anticipate vulnerability. After a big loss in our lives, subsequent small losses — such as losing car keys — can seem much bigger.

• Don't confuse your faith with the pain you feel. Sometimes faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints become hurt spiritually, especially when they think God would protect them from pain and adversity.

"Spiritual injury is even more profound" than the physical signs of pain, Ashton said. "But God's shoulders are broad enough to take your anger."

• Find opportunities to do service. Serving others gives those in mourning a chance to see there are others around them in pain and who need comforting.

Aug. 14: Helping others through their loss

Robert Walsh

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