Encouraging Ways to Deal With a Sudden Death

by AbbyFitz

People process grief differently. It's important to know that the emotions you're feeling now is normal and there are healthy ways to get through this difficult time.

The hurt and grief over losing someone too soon can be overwhelming. You feel grief more acutely. Your emotions can go from loneliness to hurt, to even anger.

The first thing you need to know is that your feelings are normal and it’s okay to feel all of those emotions and more. Everyone processes grief differently. There’s no right way or wrong way to deal with death.

Losing someone suddenly can knock you off of your feet. You don’t know where to turn, what to do or what to feel.

The important thing is to surround yourself with people who want to help you and take care of you. They can be there whether you want to talk, cry, or just sit quietly and let you feel someone’s presence.

I Can't Say Goodbye Yet

Feelings of shock and grief

Even though I was 16 years younger than my sister, we were very close. We called each other nearly everyday, often several times a day.

When my sister was suddenly diagnosed with bone cancer a week after my birthday in 2006, I was devastated, but I believed she would get better.

I faithfully took her to as many doctor's appointments as I was able. I did everything I could to help her beat cancer.

Sister was a fighter, and she fought hard. She fought every step of the way, even when we discovered that cancer had spread to her lungs.

Did I know it was bad? Yes. But I've always had a positive outlook on life and I still believed that she would be cancer free.

In July of 2008, I was scheduled to go on an extended vacation. I was a little reluctant to go because I was concerned about Sister. She insisted that I not stay because of her and to go and have fun.

I had been on vacation for about four days when on a Saturday morning I felt that I just needed to go home. Not very much later, my niece called me and told me that they had rushed my sister to the hospital and to be prepared for the worst.

Seven days on life support and then she was gone.  I had always believed she would get better. What had happened?  I was devastated. I was mad at everyone, including God.

Working Through Anger and Grief

Write or talk about your feelings

Someone you love has suddenly been taken from you. If you are angry, then just feel angry. It's okay and it's normal. 


I was mad that my sister had died. I was angry at God. I was angry at her doctors. I was angry at my brother-in-law. I was angry at myself that I had been out of town when she needed me.

Feeling anger after a death is normal, especially if it was sudden. Talk to someone close to you about it. Tell them you’re mad and just vent. It’s important to let the feeling of anger out.

I tend to bottle things inside. I was very fortunate to have a close friend who knew it was best for me to talk. 

If you don't feel you're able to talk just yet, that's okay, too. One way I dealt with my father's death was by writing in a journal.

Write about your anger and your grief in a journal. There you can bear your soul and not worry about anyone judging you. Writing about your grief and anger can be as healing as talking about it, if not more so.

Don't Dwell on "If Only"

A natural emotion, but destructive
A Wife (Pencil on Paper)
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When someone dies unexpectedly, our natural way of thinking turns to "if only."

This is a feeling that everyone feels, but it is important not to dwell there. Thinking of "if only" will only plunge you deeper into your grief.

Those left behind after the passing of a loved one often think "if only." If only I'd been there. If only I'd driven. If only...

I often thought if only I'd paid more attention to her symptoms, things might have turned out differently. If only I'd insisted she went for a second opinion from a different doctor. If only...

Unfortunately no one can go back in time and change the course of events. What you can do is focus on the fact that you did whatever you thought was best at the time.

Memories Help Heal

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It's Okay to Talk About Your Loved One

Gone, but not forgotten

The way people grieve for each death that happens in their life can be unique.

When my father died, I didn't want to speak about him. I didn't want anyone else in my presence to speak about him.

In contrast, I talk about my sister as if she’s still alive. I talk and joke about her so often, that new friends that I have made since she passed often don’t know she’s no longer here.

Talking about your loved one keeps them alive in your mind and heart. They're not someone who's gone from your life, you just can't see them with your eyes anymore. Now they're in your heart.

Speaking to others about your loved one can be very therapeutic. Remembering the funny times you shared together can make you laugh. It may be followed by tears, but that’s okay, too.

Feel what you feel at the moment, work through that emotion, realize it's okay to feel that way, and then move on to the next stage of healing from your grief.

Updated: 11/10/2013, AbbyFitz
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Share Ways You Have Coped With Death

AbbyFitz on 04/23/2013

Thank you

katiem2 on 04/23/2013

Helpful thanks :)K

AbbyFitz on 04/19/2013

I understand that completely. It's amazing how everyone grieves differently
I felt like that at the beginning with my sister, but a close friend drew me out. I didn't realize it at the time but it's what I needed.

Guest on 04/19/2013

I'm a loner. I don't want sympathy. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't even want anyone around. I also hate rituals, especially under those circumstances. I guess I'm more like a wounded animal that crawls away into the dark to heal.

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