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Coping with grief and understanding the grieving process

grieving hands If you have lost a loved one recently or had to deal with a similar tragedy, you know that the grieving process is complicated. Often there are feelings of guilt and helplessness after the death of a loved one, but rest assured that this is a normal reaction to loss.


Grief is a natural response that requires time to resolve. There are no clear guidelines for the grief process, as each person must cope in their time and their own way. The following information is brought to you by your HISD-sponsored Employee Assistance Program, which provides support for you at no charge.


Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to you and your immediate family from ComPsyche® Guidance Resources®. Counselors are available at 833-812-5181. In-person, telephonic and limited video conferencing counseling sessions are available.  All you have to do is call or go online to


Stages of Grief*

  • Denial and isolation: You will feel shock and numbness at first and may not believe this is really happening.
  • Anger: The next phase may be anger—at yourself or others. It’s common to want to find someone to blame.
  • Bargaining: This is one way of postponing dealing with grief and may involve a conversation with your higher power.
  • Depression: Once the reality of the loss sets in, anger may be replaced by profound sadness, which may lead to depression and a feeling of helplessness.
  • Acceptance: Once you reach this stage, you should be able to move forward. 

Coping with Grief

  • Share your feelings
  • Talk with someone you trust
  • Take care of yourself
  • Make daily decisions
  • Maintain your daily routine
  • Practice relaxation and meditation
  • Take one thing at a time
  • Allow extra time for tasks
  • Take breaks
  • Be patient

Common Reactions to Grief

  • Physical reactions: fatigue, sadness, insomnia, headaches, crying spells, or loss of appetite
  • Cognitive reactions: confusion, hyper-vigilance, intrusive memories, recurrent thoughts, or lack of concentration
  • Emotional reactions: anger, denial, anxiety, irritability, depression, apprehension, grief, or sadness
  • Behavioral reactions: emotional outbursts, avoidance of people, impaired performance at work, increased alcohol consumption, increased interpersonal conflicts, or decreased interest in usual activities

Dos and Don’ts During the Grief Process

  • Do get enough rest
  • Do follow a familiar routine
  • Do take on day at a time
  • Do talk to supportive people
  • Do exercise
  • Do spend time with family and friends
  • Do expect a range of emotions
  • Do contact an EAP counselor if reactions persist
  • Don’t stay home and withdraw from others
  • Don’t increase caffeine or alcohol intake
  • Don’t make major decisions or life changes
  • Don’t take on major projects
  • Don’t have unexpected realizations regarding the healing process
  • Don’t expect to get better in a day or two

24/7 Support, Resources & Information


Your ComPsych® GuidanceResources® program offers someone to talk to and resources to consult whenever and wherever you need them.

Call: 833.812.5181

TTY: 800.697.0353

Your toll-free number gives you direct, 24/7 access to a GuidanceConsultantSM, who will answer your questions and, if needed, refer you to a counselor or other resources.

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App: GuidanceNowSM


Log on today to connect directly with a guidance consultant about your issue or to consult articles, podcasts, videos, and other helpful tools.


*This information was provided by the ComPsych Corporation for educational purposes only. It is your responsibility to make sure these concepts apply to your situation.