Grief can feel consuming, but it does not last forever and by understanding the stages and types of grief, you can find healthier ways to cope.
What is Grief
Grief is the natural response to loss. It is a powerful, sometimes immense emotion for people—particularly to the loss of someone or some living thing that has died, to which affection or bond was formed or from a terminal diagnosis they or someone they love has been given.
According to research, most people can recover from loss on their own over time if they have social support and healthy habits. There is no right or wrong way to grieve as it is both a universal and a personal experience. Grief has physical, social, behavioural, cultural, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions even if we attribute it to the emotional response to loss.
The death of a loved one is often the cause of the fiercest sort of grief but any loss can be the source of grief, including:
- Loss of health
- A relationship breakup or divorce
- Financial instability
- Losing a position of employment
- Losing a pet
- Losing a friendship
Your loss, whatever kind is your own because it is normal to grieve the loss you are experiencing. There is no need to bottle up your feelings or think you ought to grief for certain things. There are healthy ways to look after yourself no matter what leads to your grief as time can soothe your sadness and aid you come to terms with your loss, accept reality, and move on with your life.
Process of Grieving
Grieving is an individual experience that depends on how significant the loss was to you, your faith, your personality, and your life experience. It takes time, it will take a toll on you but being patient is significant and you should allow the process to straighten out on its own.
The pain you feel will not go away swiftly because you chose to not acknowledge it instead face your grief and intently deal with it for healing to occur. There is no time frame for grief. It is different for everyone because we are not the same; even if our loss is similar, our individuality isn’t. You do not need to put on a brave front because feeling sad, panicked, or alone is normal; showing how you truly feel either by crying or cooking or doing something healthy can help your family, friends, and you. Moving on does not mean you have forgotten about your loss but means you have accepted it and will keep the memory of your loss as a crucial part of you.
How to Cope with the Grieving Process
Bearing in mind that most people can deal with loss and proceed with their lives, I believe it is safe to say Human beings are naturally tough. For some people, grieving is a struggle that can take a long time and make you feel like you are drowning and can do nothing every day.
When you feel overwhelmed, it is best to keep these processes in mind:
- Be aware of your pain.
- There will be many unexpected and unrelated emotions. Come to terms that grief can cause this.
- Your grieving process will be distinctive to you.
- Build your perimeter with people who care about you.
- Take care of yourself physically as a major loss can deplete your energy and emotional reserves.
- Contribute to your emotional health.
- Pay attention to your mood to avoid depression.
There are five stages of grief and although they were initially based on feelings of patients facing terminal illness, many people have tagged them to further kinds of gloomy life occurrences and losses; which include the death of a loved one, thing, or break-up. The stages of grief are seen below:
This is a common defence mechanism that helps numb you to the power of the situation. Denying a loss or change gives you time to take in the news and start to process it. But as you move out of this stage, suppressed emotions will come back, it can be difficult but is a part of the ride of grief.
These are examples of denial depending on the situation you find yourself in: “He is not gone. He will walk in at any minute now.”, “They were mistaken. They will send an email tomorrow to say they need me.”, “This is not happening to me. These results are wrong.”, and more.
This is considered a masking effect as anger makes you conceal numerous emotions and pain that you carry either bitterness or resentment. Your anger may be directed at people or even inanimate objects however your brain knows that the object of your anger is not to be blamed, your feelings are just too powerful to feel it at that moment.
These are examples of anger depending on the situation you find yourself in: “If he cared for himself more, this would not have happened.”, “They are horrible bosses. I hope they break down.”, “Where is God in this? How dare he let this happen!”, and more.
In this stage, you may find yourself constructing a fair amount of “what if” and “if only” statements—this is because you might feel defenceless and in peril, so you look for means to get back control or feel like you can affect an event’s outcome.
Bargaining helps postpone the sadness, confusion, or hurt and is not uncommon for religious individuals to attempt to make a promise, sometimes a deal with God or a higher power in exchange for healing, luck, or relief either from pain or grief.
These are some examples of bargaining depending on the situation you find yourself: “If only I had called him that morning, he wouldn’t be gone.”, “If only I worked more hours, they would have seen how essential I am.”, “If only we had gone to the doctor more readily, we could have prevented this.”, and more.
Depression can feel like a silent stage of grief while anger and bargaining can feel very mobile, this is because at this point you may choose to be in solitude or work through your loss healthily. This stage can be hard, grimy, confusing, and overwhelming and it may feel like the unavoidable arriving point of any loss but it goes away. If you feel stuck, it is best you visit a therapist to help you work through this time.
These are some examples of depression depending on the situation you find yourself in: “What am I without him?”, “I don’t know how to move ahead from here.”, “My entire life has moved closer to this awful end.”, and more.
Acceptance means you have accepted your loss; have come to acknowledge what it means in your life and that it is time to move on but never that you have moved past the loss or grief. Due to having a crucial change in your life, you might feel different in this stage which affects how you see or now perceive things. Here, you realise that there might be more good and bad days but there will be bad days and that is all right.
These are some examples of acceptance depending on the situation you find yourself: “I am so blessed to have had so many marvelous years with him, and he will forever be in my memories.”, “I will be capable of finding a way onward from here and can start a new path.”, “I have the chance to tie things up and do what I want in these final weeks and months.”, and more.
How to Help a Grieving Person?
When you know someone who is grieving, it tends to be difficult to know what to say or do to help ease their pain. Sometimes it feels like when you try helping, they dive deeper into themselves but you have to do your best by providing comfort even if it turns out insufficient and useless.
You can keep these in mind if and when your comfort is needed:
- A grieving person does not need fixing. It is best to cheer them up, give confident comments, or comedy, to help their loss.
- Do not force them to talk or handle their emotions before they are ready as this might be a barrier to their healing
- Offer space for them to grieve as this lets them know you are accessible and remind them that you are there and not to delay coming to you when they wish to talk.
People experience grief differently. In the early stages, you might feel like you are in a bad dream, you are nuts, or question your belief just remember that it is normal. Have patience with yourself and your feelings and allow yourself time to process all your emotions, and when you are ready to speak with someone about it, do so.
Draw up a plan towards grief triggers. Anniversaries, holidays, and significant events can rouse hurting memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional assault, and know that it is entirely normal.
If you decide you need aid managing your feelings and changes, a mental health professional is a good resource for inspecting your feelings and finding a sense of guarantee but If you are supporting someone who is grieving, remember that you do not have to do anything particularly, but give them room to talk about it when they are ready.