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Eight Surprising Things You May Feel After a Loved One's Death

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There's no set limit on how many emotions we'll feel after a loss.

We’re all familiar with the five stages of grief and we have come to expect that at some point following a death we might feel denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately, acceptance. So it may be surprising to learn that other emotions might appear that can be downright unexpected and uncomfortable.

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* Relief
If you have faced relentless worry and anxiety over a family member’s health, illness, treatment, or decline, it may startle you to experience a sense of relief. The relief will be replaced with grief, but for a brief time you may feel free of worry. 

* Emptiness
Where once there was a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, colleague, or friend, there is now a void. The role the deceased played in your life is now empty. While we mourn our loss, we may wonder if anyone can ever fill that space.

* Helplessness
Most of us rely on someone else to perform a variety of roles in our life. Without that someone we may feel helpless. Who will drive at night, do the taxes, install or fix the technology, do the laundry, or cook. While it might take time, many people are surprised when they rise to the occasion and find they can navigate life by themselves.

* Fear
When someone dies there is a fear, “If it happened to them, it can happen to me.” If a family member died at a certain age or from a specific illness it is normal to wonder if we too are in jeopardy when reaching that age.

* Loneliness
Loss is lonely. Grief is a solitary experience and because of our intense emotions while we mourn, it can be hard for others to have the patience to stand by and support us. After the initial outpouring of condolences, the phone and even email may become silent.

* Lost
When we have a history and have shared a facet of our life with someone it is easy to feel lost without them. No matter what role the deceased played in our life, whether friend, relative, colleague, or neighbor, we are now missing a partner for whom we had a common experience.

* Disconnected
If you have lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, or child you might feel disconnected. Family bonds to your heritage may feel severed. If you have lost an older relative it might be up to you to assume the elder family role and this can feel overwhelming and daunting.

* Responsible
The death of a loved one can bring so much sorrow. As you see others struggle and possibly falter, you may feel responsible for helping others grieve and this can interfere with your own grief. 

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Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.