How to Know If You’re Still Grieving: Help and Hope

by Larry Barber

A journey through grief is complex and confusing.  One way to gauge how well you are dealing with the loss, your grief and your grief emotions is to take an inventory of all the emotions and experiences that are a part of your grief journey.

Below is a whole list of things you might think or feel (or have thought or felt) when someone has died.  Read through the list as quickly as you can and check the thoughts and feelings that come close to describing the same thoughts and feelings you have experienced (no matter how short or long you experienced them).  Don’t think too much about each one; just go through the checklist as quickly as you can!

____1. Sometimes I feel left out; people forget to ask about me and how I am doing.

____2. Sometimes I get angry with the person for dying.

____3. Sometimes I feel sad and hurt when I think about it.

____4. Sometimes I feel guilty.

____5. It really feels weird to be around other people who knew the person that died.

____6. I wonder about death and dying

____7. Sometimes I feel guilty cause I don’t want to want to be sad all the time.

____8. Sometimes I get jealous because other people don’t have these feelings.

____9. Sometimes this all feels like a dream that will go away when I wake up.

____10. Sometimes I feel real confused and out-of-sorts!

____11. I feel helpless, like there isn’t anything I could do to stop it or to help.

____12. I wonder if the same thing could happen to someone else in my family.

____13. Anything can hit you the wrong way and bring up all kinds of feelings.

____14. Not crying means that I am strong and I can hold it together.

____15. I wonder if I should of acted differently towards the person that died.

____16. Sometimes I find myself getting angry at the person that died.

____17. Sometimes I find myself mad at God for letting this happen.

____18. I wonder about what would have happened if they did not die.

____19. I need a break from thinking about all this cause I still need to have fun.

____20. I know I’m just a normal person in an abnormal situation.

____21. Sometimes I start thinking that the person really isn’t dead.

____22. People are always trying to get me to be happy when I need to feel sad.

____23. Sometimes my family isn’t very helpful and I have to talk to friends.

____24. Sometimes my friends aren’t very helpful and I rely on my family for support.

____25. I find myself being more cautious or careful these days.

____26. I feel like the sadness will never go away.

____27. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who feels the way I do about all this.

____28. I get mad because this is so unfair!!!

____29. I get confused sometimes, and it’s hard to concentrate and remember things.

____30. Sometimes I get scared, even for no reason.

____31. I feel like I am a different person now that this has happened to me.

____32. Sometimes I pretend it hasn’t happened.

____33. Life goes on–and I get mad because it’s not happening to anyone else’s family, it’s

happened to mine!

____34. I can still be happy even though this is happening to me.

____35. Sometimes when I think about it, I don’t feel anything at all.

____36. I’d like to erase this all from my brain!

____37. Sometimes I don’t want to think about it or talk about it because it’s too much!

____38. I just can’t help worrying about other people in my family.

____39. Sometimes I have dreams and even nightmares about the person who died.

____40. Sometimes I cry for no reason.

____41. I get afraid sometimes to be alone

____42. I get worried or feel anxious more than I used to (for no particular reason).

____43. Nighttime can be the hardest time—that’s when I can’t stop thinking about it!

____44. Sometimes I think I’ll never get use to this.

____45. Sometimes I feel guilty because I did or said something mean to the person who’s

died–but I was just mad.

____46. Sometimes I can’t remember what it was like before the person died.

____47. I know what has happened but don’t understand why!

____48. I wonder if the person who died knows that I love him/her.

____49. Nobody asked me what I think or how I feel.

____50. I know no matter what happens, I am going to be okay.


Whew! That’s quite a list!  So how many thoughts and feelings did you check?  Maybe you recognized ten or twenty, or maybe even all fifty!  Some of these things are hard to feel and some are hard to admit that you feel.  Remember that taking an inventory of how the loss has impacted you equips you to better face your grief journey.

Remember, the thing about thoughts and feelings is that they are not right or wrong, and they are not good or bad.  They just are, and you can’t help thinking or feeling the way you do about anything!  It is what you do to take care of your thoughts and feelings that matter. 

Some of these feelings feel good, and some feel not so good. All these thoughts and feelings are normal!  Everyone who experiences grief can think and feel these ways.  And, many persons, big and little, find it helpful to share these with others.  Find someone with whom you feel safe to share your grief thoughts and feelings with.

Here is my grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon 

Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX


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