Making Decisions While Grieving

By Tensie Holland, LSW, CT


After the death of a loved one, you may experience many changes. Grief can affect your thought processes and your mental and emotional state of mind. The efficient way you managed everything and made decisions prior to the death of your loved one seems to have suddenly disappeared. You may feel as though you are treading water, trying to stay afloat.
In addition to changes in routine, habits and lifestyle brought about by the death of loved ones, we are all adapting to the many changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year. You may long for things to return to the way they were  before the pandemic and before the death of your loved one. It can be a struggle to find some level of comfort or peace, and it may be tempting to make additional changes to help cope with your new reality. 

Society in general tends to rush us through our grief, which may prompt you to move faster than you should. Making changes may seem to be the answer as you look for ways to escape the pain of grief.

The National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic suggest avoiding making major decisions while actively grieving the death of a loved one.  Most bereavement professionals advise a one-year wait. Of course, there are always individual situations to be considered. Plans made or discussed prior to your loved one’s death may be important to continue. Financial limitations may create the need for change that you cannot control. Just be aware of the impact grief can have on your ability to make sound decisions. 

When possible, consider postponing major decisions such as moving/relocating, changing jobs, making major purchases, dating/marriage, etc. Ask yourself: Can it wait? If it cannot wait, talk with a trusted friend, family member or professional to review the pros and cons of decisions that may have a long-lasting impact. 

As you go through your grief journey, you may find that certain things that were painful in the beginning become softer and even comforting. Your thought processes may become clearer as things in your world stabilize. Be patient with yourself and take your time as you consider making important changes. 

On a personal note, this will be my final article for About Grief. I will be retiring in March after 30 years with Hospice of the Western Reserve. It has been an honor to work with the bereaved. Each family I have met has left an imprint on my life. I send a heartfelt thank you to each of you! Wishing you all peace and healing on your grief journey.

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