Losing someone or something you love is heart wrenching. There are many emotions and stages of grief you will go through. There is no set way to deal with the pain, and everyone deals with loss and grief in their own way. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can help you move on.
Grief is a natural response to loss. The emotional suffering you feel when you lose a loved one is your grief. Usually the more the significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. Grief is often associated with the death of a loved one, but can also include:
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Loss of health
- Losing a job
- Loss of financial stability
- A miscarriage
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a dream
- Serious illness of a loved one
- Loss of a friendship
- Selling the family home
It is extremely important to remember that everyone grieves differently. It is a personal and individual experience. How someone grieves depends on several factors such as personality, coping style, life experience, faith and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing will happen gradually, and there is no normal timetable for grieving. Some will start to feel better in week or months, while others will be years. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to go through the natural process.
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced what is known as the five stages of grief in 1969.
- Denial – “This can’t be happening to me.”
- Anger – “Why is this happening?”
- Bargaining – “Make this not happen and I will?.”
- Depression – “I’m too sad to do anything.”
- Acceptance – “I’m at peace with what happened.”
However, it is important to note that not everyone will necessarily go through all five stages. It is important to find ways to cope with all or any of the stages that you do experience. There are many ways to help you get through such a difficult time.
- Friends and Family – lean on the people who care about you. Accept assistance that is offered and be around them when you can’t be alone.
- Have Faith – if you follow a faith, embrace the comfort the mourning ritual can provide.
- Support Groups – grief can feel lonely even when you have loved ones around you. Join a group that can understand your sorrow and how you have been feeling. Often you can find bereavement support through hospitals, hospices, funeral homes and counseling centres.
- Talk to a Professional – make an appointment with a therapist or grief counselor. They are trained and experienced to help you work through your grief.
- Deal with your feelings – don’t avoid your grief. Unresolved grief can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
- Look after your health – the mind and body are connected and when you feel better physically, you feel better emotionally. Combat your stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising.
- Be the Boss – Don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you how to feel. Your grief is your own and no one else can tell you when it’s time to move on or get over it. Feel what you need to feel without being embarrassed or feeling judged.
- Plan Ahead – those special dates are still going to happen. Anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, are all going to bring back memories and feelings. Be prepared for these emotional times and let yourself deal with them in your way and your timeframe.
Use the sources that are out there for support during your time of loss. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help from family, friends and even professionals if you need it. Losing someone or something close to you can cause a great deal of pain that will take time to heal.
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