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Understanding Grief

Grief is more than just sadness. It's all the ways we respond to loss.

We all journey through the grieving process differently.

Grief is a complex process that includes coping with the heartache, loneliness, and practical adjustments that occur after someone significant in our lives is no longer with us.

Individual experiences will vary, but some common reactions are listed below:

  • A sense of relief or acceptance that suffering has ended
  • Shock, disbelief, or a feeling of unreality
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Anger or frustration and thinking “it’s not fair”
  • Frequent and sometimes unexpected emotional outbursts
  • Regret or guilt along with “if only” thinking

Among your family and friends, you will likely see a wide range of responses to the death of your loved one, both immediately and in the months to come. You can’t always tell from the outside how someone is reacting to loss on the inside, so you may need to adjust your expectations of yourself and others. People are uncomfortable with grief and may tell you how they expect you to be reacting. It’s important to recognize that everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.


“Even when we grow through our grief and feel we have put our lives together again, it is normal to feel each loss throughout our lives.”

Diane Hart, Hospice of the Northwest Bereavement Coordinator


Hospice care includes grief support.

Get more information or speak to someone about grief by calling (360) 814-5550.

"When my wife Debbie died, I was angry. Nothing made sense and I drifted between tasks, unable to decide what was necessary to finish. I thought I was supposed to be sad, but I couldn't cry... It was so helpful to meet other people who had also experienced loss and learn that ALL emotions are normal, and there is no timeline for being 'finished' with my grief. That knowledge helped me process my feelings."
- James C. -
Photo Credit: Andy Porter Photography
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