Dealing With Grief After a Massive Heart Attack

When someone you love dies from a massive heart attack, dealing with grief is the last thing on your mind. Here’s a simple yet powerful way to cope with the grieving process. It’s called a “grief sanctuary”, from a book called Honoring Grief: Creating a Space to Let Yourself Heal.

Dealing With Grief After a Massive Heart AttackIf you haven’t written anything about your loved one yet – memories, dreams, hopes, regrets – consider Angel Catcher: A Journal of Loss and Remembrance. “A dear friend gave me this book after my beloved husband died suddenly because of a massive heart attack,” said Grace in the Amazon review. “For a few weeks, I couldn’t even open it because I was dealing with grief. But when I read it, I found an invaluable way to help me remember my husband and to put into words all of those little things that were so much a part of our relationship. I have recommended it to my grief support group and will cherish the memories it has helped me capture.”

When you’re ready – if you lost your husband or wife to a massive heart attack – read Living Alone After the Death of a Spouse. Dealing with grief involves both practical tips for life after a loved one’s death, and emotional support for healing. Go slow…grieving is a process that never really ends. But take heart! You will feel lighter and happier in time.

What advice have you already received about dealing with grief after suddenly losing a loved one to a massive heart attack? Take a moment to consider what you already know. Tell me – I welcome your big and little thoughts in the comments section below.

Dealing With Grief After a Massive Heart Attack

I’m writing an ebook called Blossoming in the Dessert: 50 Uplifting Stories and Practical Tips for Life After Loss. Part of my research involves reading books about dealing with the grieving process, and one of those books is Honoring Grief by Alexandra Kennedy.

She shares many helpful strategies for dealing with grief. To help you cope after losing someone to a massive heart attack, I’m sharing her idea of a “grief sanctuary.”

Understanding the nature of grieving

If we avoid grieving, our losses will accumulate and overcome us. We naturally shrink from the painful feelings that loss brings, but we need to learn how to deal with grief. Losing a loved one to a massive heart attack is shocking and overwhelming, but we need to learn to move through the grief.

“Rather than resist the powerful, transformative forces activated in grief, we can learn strategies for moving through it,” writes Kennedy. “Or, more accurately, allowing it to move through us, stage by stage, day by day – without feeling overwhelmed.”

massive heart attack dealing with grief

Dealing With Grief After a Massive Heart Attack

Once we let down into grief and let it move through us, she says, it shows us what we need to heal. We need to avoid blocking the flow of grief, for we will pay a deep price for unresolved grief. Dealing with grief is crucial to healing, whether it was a massive heart attack or a slow journey towards death.

If you lost your husband, you may find Practical Tips and Prayers for Grieving Widows helpful. It was written by a woman who lost her husband not to a massive heart attack, but to Parkinson’s disease. Her tips for dealing with grief, may help you with your own journey towards healing.

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Learning about a “grief sanctuary”

This strategy for dealing with grief after a massive heart attack (or any type of death) is simple, yet powerful. It involves creating a “sacred space” that gently holds us as we turn within. It supports us as we move through the grieving process.

“A sanctuary for grieving enables us to honor our grief for a limited time each day in the midst of our busy lives,” writes Kennedy. “Rather than feeling overwhelmed, those who use the sanctuary find that they have much more focus and energy for their work, schoolwork, friends and families.”

The idea is to use the grief sanctuary daily – it’s a safe, insulated contained space that generates a sense of peace when you’re dealing with grief after the shock of a massive heart attack. This space allows you to go deep enough into your grief so you can begin the healing process.

Creating a sanctuary for grieving

“Find a contained space in your home or garden where you feel protected and safe,” writes Kennedy. “It is important that you will not be interrupted. Let it be a place that inspires, comforts, and nurtures you in your grief. The sanctuary is a refuge dedicated to your healing.”

If you don’t feel at ease or peaceful in a location, move to another place. Kennedy says most people who are dealing with grief need to try out different places until they settle on one that works. If you lost a loved one to a massive heart attack, you may find his den or her loft the perfect sanctuary for your grief…or you may find it too painful.

Enter your grief sanctuary daily

Take time every day to honor your grief and work through your feelings – but don’t spend long periods of time in your sanctuary. One of the most important tips on how to survive the grieving process is to not overwhelm yourself emotionally.

After a Massive Heart Attack

Dealing With Grief

In the cocoon of your grief sanctuary, close your eyes and turn your attention within. “What is happening inside you?” asks Kennedy. “What most wants your attention? Scan your body. Our bodies are in constant conversation with us; our bodies don’t lie – though our minds do. What are you experiencing in your body? What sensations come to your attention? Where is grief residing in your body?”

Tune into your body and become aware of your emotions. Are you feeling angry? Guilty? Lost? Depressed? Peaceful? Dealing with grief after a massive heart attack may leave you with a whole heap of emotions. Experience them. They will eventually heal you.

Let go of your grief when you leave the sanctuary

“When you leave the sanctuary, let go of focusing on the grief,” writes Kennedy. “Make a clear transition. Many people hold on to their grief. It is important to grieve fully in the sanctuary but to let go of it when it is time to engage in your daily life. To help with the transition, do something nurturing for yourself – have a cup of tea, call a friend, go for walk.”

My prayer is that you find healing and peace as you grieve your loss. May you journey through the grieving process slowly, deliberately, and carefully. Know that dealing with grief is hard – but it’s healthy and liberating in the long run. I pray you find the support and resources you need to heal. I also pray for wisdom and courage, for strength and power, and for faith that God loves you and is waiting for you to turn your attention to Him.

Honoring grief

Massive Heart Attack Dealing With Grief To learn more about creating a sanctuary for grieving, read Honoring Grief: Creating a Space to Let Yourself Heal.

Written by psychotherapist and grief expert Alexandra Kennedy, this book offers powerful and compassionate advice for dealing with loss – as you can tell from the idea of creating a sanctuary for dealing with grief after losing someone you love to a massive heart attack. Compatible with any religious or spiritual orientation, this book aims to help readers create a special space where they are free to work through the difficult emotions that accompany grief.

A question for you about dealing with grief

What is one word that describes how you feel about the sudden loss of someone you love to a massive heart attack? Tell me below. You can write more than a word if you’d like. Sometimes it’s helpful to bundle all your feelings into a word and share how you feel.

While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of dealing with grief after a massive heart attack. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.

One of my favorite quotes about grief is “Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what could be”, on When Your Grieving Spouse Withdraws – 5 Ways to Stay Close. May you find ways to accept your loss and let go of the life you had together. I pray for healing, peace, and faith in what could be.

If you listen, your heart will tell you what you need to heal.

My next post is about adjusting to being alone. Make sure you sign up below for my weekly email to receive new articles.

Are you unhappy in your relationship? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage and FREE relationship advice from Mort Fertel, founder of the Marriage Fitness Program.


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4 thoughts on “Dealing With Grief After a Massive Heart Attack

  • Cindy

    My husband died March 4 2015 of a massive heart attack at 2:15pm right in front of me. I’m certified n CPR and still was unable to do anything. I called 911 and no one answered. I still relive this horrible day every day. We were together for 31 years. He was my best friend, lover, and the center of my world. We had no children, so now I am alone. All I want is to have a massive heart attack myself, so I can be with him. I am currently in counseling and have been since he died, but the truth is, I just don’t want to be here without him.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Paula,

    I’m so sorry you experienced this tragedy. It sounds like it was painful and shocking, and you’re left with all sorts of painful emotions. Seeing a loved one die, right in front of you, is terrifying experience – and it really does complicate how you deal with the grief of losing a loved one to a massive heart attack.

    Have you talked to a grief counselor? I encourage you to call someone. Your feelings of guilt and fear are a normal reaction to your experience…and the best way to work through the grieving process is to find support and help.

    Will you call a grief support line, or a local counselor in your area?

  • paula callis

    terrified and guilty. . you are having a conversation and in the middle of a sentence, they die. Right in front of you and your efforts to save them fail. Now you are left with guilt and fear of it happening to another family member.