Your Guide to Coping With Grief and Loss: 5 Reminders to Help You Through It
Your Guide to Coping With Grief and Loss: 5 Reminders to Help You Through It
Grief is a natural and human response to loss. It is a way you respond when something or someone very close to you goes away. Often, the suffering that comes with it is overwhelming. Coping with grief is one of the biggest challenges of life. In this blog, we will guide you and give you reminders to help you through this journey of grief and loss.
What Causes Grief?
Grief occurs in response to a traumatic event. This traumatic event may bring drastic changes in your life which you are not prepared for. The feelings and emotions that come with grief and loss are very personal, only you can understand the depth of your pain.
People may experience grief for various reasons such as:
- Death of a loved ones
- Divorce or breakup
- Loss of financial security
- Death of a pet
- Illness or morbidity
- Loss of home
Even subtle loss can be the reason for someone to grieve. How close and important that thing or person was in your life would be an important factor for why and how much you grieve.
Grief affects our physical and mental health. The feeling of grief and loss can be so intense that it gives rise to various symptoms in us which are discussed below.
How Does Grief Affect You Mentally And Physically?
The feeling of grief is very intense. It affects you mentally as well as physically. Anything you experience is part of the process of coping with this drastic change that grief and loss bring.
Mentally you may experience feelings and emotions like :
Anger(for yourself, the one you lost), disbelieve, numbness, guilt, fear, impatience, frustration, loneliness, or depression. You may feel like “ am I going crazy?”. You may feel like you are utterly trapped and there is no way out. You may question again and again- “Why did this happen to me?”
Physical symptoms of grief include:
Grief can cause physical sensations like –
Nausea, disturbed digestive system, dizziness, headaches, numbness in the body, and fatigue. It may also cause heaviness in the chest or throat. You may also notice heart palpitations.
Behavioral changes :
Grief gives rise to stress which may lead to loss of appetite or stress eating. You may struggle with sleepless nights or find it hard to move out from your bed. You may lose interest in the activities you once enjoyed. You may lose interest in socializing. It may become difficult to carry on routine tasks like – getting up and taking a shower.
Grief Can Make You Question Your Religious and Spiritual Beliefs –
You may start questioning your faith and spiritual beliefs. You may find it difficult to trust and hold on to your faith. You may find yourself in spiritual distress. On the other hand, you may also find yourself pulled more vigorously towards it. Grief may drastically change your view of life.
This alteration in your belief is also a normal experience associated with grief.
Is There One Right Way to Grieve?
The effect of grief is not the same for everyone. Grief is a personal experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. It can take days, months, a year, or beyond that to overcome grief. There cannot be a fixed time to grieve. And it cannot be overcome with force.
When the traumatic incident happens you may experience grief taking over immediately or it may a long time for this feeling to set it. Or, you may not grieve at all! You have to allow grieving to run its course.
Neglecting Grief Never Helps
It may become difficult to handle grief when you have responsibilities of children, family, or work. You might be expected to “keep a strong face”, people might ask you to “stay strong”. When you have suffered the loss you must allow yourself time to grieve. Or, the consequences of its neglect can reflect in other areas of your life. You may fall into the trap of harmful addictions (such as drug or alcohol abuse). You may find yourself clinging to unhealthy ways so as not to feel anything.
It is becoming difficult to deal with grief and loss? You may talk to our emotional wellness experts.
What Are The Stages Of Grief?
Grief takes its course in 5 stages according to Kubler- Ross Model. These 5 stages include :
- Denial: “This cannot happen to me”
- Anger: “Why is this happening?”, “Who is responsible?”, “This is my fault”.
- Bargaining: “Return to me what was mine and I will….”
- Depression: “I am too broken to do anything”, “This hurt a cannot be healed”.
- Acceptance: “I accept what happened to me”. “I am at peace with whatever has happened”.
Feeling any of these emotions is a natural reaction to the process. Grief does not follow the same order for everyone. You may or may not go through all the stages mentioned above.
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross knew that these stages are fluid and there is no rigid framework for the process of mourning and grief. In her book, she says- “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
Dealing with grief and loss is very complicated for everyone but when it comes to children special care needs to be taken. Dealing with a loss for the first time can be very confusing and upsetting for children. It is important to talk to them and help them process their feelings of loss and pain.
5 Reminders To Help You Cope With Grief and Loss :
Coping with grief and loss includes processes that the person has to undergo to bring healing. Here are things that would help you deal with your loss-
#1. Hold on: allow yourself to feel your feelings
Grief and loss bring a drastic shift in a person’s life. It brings an abrupt end to something important to you. You never imagined your life without it. You have to undergo a transition. This transition cannot be hurried. You have to acknowledge your grief and pain. You have to allow it to happen. You have to allow yourself to feel everything that comes with it. You have to hold on.
You may feel angry, numb, guilt-stricken, fearful, impatient, frustrated, or lonely. It is okay to have these feelings as this forms part of the healing process.
#2. Seek support from others
It is very common during grief to withdraw and feel helpless. You might feel – “I don’t want any support or sympathy. I just want to run away and hide from people.” You tend to run away from the things you need the most which are support and help. Do not hesitate to ask for help from others.
Be Around Your Friends and Family– Invite them to your house, or stay connected with the help of messages, video calls, conference calls whenever you feel alone. Stay connected with the people who genuinely care for you.
Support Groups– Support groups bring together people who are going through or have gone through similar experiences. A support group provides an opportunity for people to share personal experiences, feelings, and coping strategies. A support group fills the gap for emotional support.
Seek Out Therapy or Grief Counseling – grief counseling helps people cope with the physical, emotional, social, and cognitive responses to loss. Grief counselors know that every person responds to grief and loss in a unique way. The counselor will listen to you without judgment and support you to process your pain.
#3. Try to stick to your hobbies
Hobbies can offer you a creative and gentle mode to express your pain. Hobbies like writing, painting, singing, or cooking can also help you transform your pain and emotions! You can also take part in activities, such as planting a tree or planning to visit a place on your bucket list.
#4. Try gentle exercises
It is common when it grief to feel demotivated. Getting out of bed and doing the routine work may seem like a big task! Gentle exercise like- a walk in the evening or yoga can be helpful for you. Our mental and physical health are connected. When you start feeling healthy physically you will notice that it helps you cope better emotionally as well.
#5.Take care of yourself
When you are in grief, every moment is directed towards healing and coping. Only you know what coping mechanisms would work best for you. Try doing things that bring joy to your life.
Relaxing is also a healthy coping mechanism whenever you feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to cry and it’s ok to feel happy again. And it is okay to move forward in life whenever you feel you are ready.
How to Help Someone Experiencing Grief and Loss?
There is a tendency of the grieving person to feel disturbed, helpless, and lonely. The people around might find it awkward to talk about this subject as they feel that this might stimulate the hurt and pain. As a result, the grieving person might feel lonely and isolated. A grieving person’s emotions oscillate between wanting to be left alone and wanting support from others. Below are few ways that can be helpful when you want to support a grieving person-
- Ask them upfront about how you can support them
- Be a good listener
- Ask them about their feelings
- Ask them about their health
- Let them feel their feelings
- Don’t make them feel guilty
- Do not give false hopes
- Do not minimize their grief
- Be around them with the help of phone calls when you can’t be there physically
- Just sit with them
Grief is a natural response to loss. The feelings and emotions that come with grief and loss are very personal. Even seemingly subtle loss can be the reason for someone to grieve. You need to understand that all the pain and feelings that come with grief are a normal part of healing. You will learn a lot about yourself, about universal human suffering, and the life around you if you stay present and open-hearted during this journey of grieving. Remember – You are not alone. Do not hesitate to ask for help whenever you need it.
If you need guidance and support, you may book an appointment to get in touch with the best grief counselors!
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