Monday, April 24, 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017

The Pain Is Real but You Will Heal: How to Cope with Grief and Loss

The death of a loved one is, unfortunately, something most of us have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives, but grief and loss are not felt only when someone passes away.

A close friend or family member moving away, a divorce or breakup, losing a job, as well as a number of other life experiences can cause feelings of grief or loss. Coping with it is one of the most stressful and difficult things we have to deal with in life, but it is an experience everyone can relate to. It can be reassuring to know that you aren’t the only one going through it.

Everyone goes through the heartbreaking stages of grief.

The five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are the normal, common emotions we go through. They were identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969.

However, because everyone is different, there is no “standard” way to react to grief and loss.[1]

Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeves and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally, and may not cry. You should try not to judge how a person experiences grief, as each person will experience it differently.

Stage 1: Denial

The feeling of shock when you first find out about a loss can lead to thinking, “This isn’t real”. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.[2]

Stage 2: Anger

Feelings of frustration and helplessness. Thoughts like “It’s not fair” can be common. Even being angry at your loved one who died for “leaving you behind” is natural.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Constantly thinking about what you could have done to prevent the loss. Thoughts of “What if…” and “If only…” replay in the mind. You might also try to bargain with a higher power in hopes of reversing the loss.

Stage 4: Depression

The deep sadness you feel as you realize the loss is irreversible. You think about how your life will be affected by the loss. Crying, loss of appetite, feelings of loneliness, and unusual sleeping patterns are all signs of depression.

Stage 5: Acceptance

You accept the loss and although you’re still sad, you slowly start to move on with your life.

The stages of grief don’t have to be in this order, and you might not experience all stages. There is also no set time period for grieving and some people take longer to heal than others.

And everyone will heal eventually.

When you’re experiencing those heartbreaking feelings, it’s hard to believe that you’ll eventually heal. But you really will heal. Here are some ways to help the healing process:

Confront the painful emotions.

Try not to bottle up your emotions. Allow yourself to express how you feel. It’s a healthy part of the grieving process.[3]

Talk about it.

Talking to someone about the way you are feeling can be very helpful in starting the healing process. Often, people want to isolate themselves while grieving, but being around friends and family can help. Talking can also help you to confront your emotions if you have been unable to.

Keep up with your routine.

Loss can make you feel like your world has been turned upside down. Keeping up with your routine can help bring back some normality.

Remember to take care of yourself.

When you are grieving and depressed, simple things like eating become an afterthought and sleeping may become difficult. Taking care of yourself and your health will help with the healing process.

Don’t make any major decisions.

Grief clouds the ability to make sound decisions.[4] Try to postpone making any big decisions for a while or get guidance from close friends or family.

It is important to heal after a loss so that you can get on with life. There is no set time period for grieving, but if you feel that your grief isn’t getting better and you are unable to accept the loss, it might be time to seek professional help.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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