How Does One Deal With Grief?

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At some point in everybody’s life, we all have to encounter grief. It is universal - and may arrive due to the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, breaking up with a significant other or any other change that may bring your day-to-day routine to a staggering halt. Grief is something that is extremely personal to each individual, and it is never linear or neat. It doesn’t follow any prescribed order or schedule. Everyone processes grief differently, from crying to becoming angry or becoming withdrawn or feeling empty. Absolutely none of these things is wrong, strange or unusual. 


Grief is also very personal. It’s not very neat or linear. It doesn’t follow any timelines or schedules. You may cry, become angry, withdraw, or feel empty. None of this is unusual or incorrect. Everyone grieves in their own unique way, but there are some similarities in the stages and order of feelings experienced during grief.

Is it true that grief always progresses in the same order?

The five stages of grief are:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

Not everyone will go through all five stages, and they may not be in this order.

Grief is unique to each individual, so you may begin coping with loss in the bargaining stage and then move on to anger or denial. You could spend months in one of the five stages while skipping the others.

Symptoms of grief

While everyone reacts differently to loss, many of us experience the following symptoms when we are in mourning. Just remember that almost anything you feel in the early stages of grief is normal, including feeling insane, as if you're in a bad dream, or questioning your religious or spiritual beliefs.

Emotional symptoms of grief

Shock and disbelief. It can be difficult to accept what has happened immediately following a loss. You may feel numb, have difficulty believing that the loss occurred, or even deny the truth. If a pet or someone you care about dies, for example, you may continue to expect them to appear even though you know they are no longer alive.

Sadness. Profound sadness is most likely the most common symptom of grief. You may experience feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or profound loneliness. You may also find yourself crying a lot or feeling emotionally unstable.

Guilt. You may have regrets or feelings of guilt about things you said or did not say or do. You might also feel guilty about certain emotions (feeling relieved when a person died after a long, difficult illness, for example). You may even feel guilty for not doing more to prevent your loss, even if you had no control over it.

Fear. A significant loss can cause a slew of concerns and fears. If you've recently lost a partner, a job, or your home, you may be feeling anxious, helpless, or insecure about the future. You may even experience panic attacks. The death of a loved one can cause you to be afraid of your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or of the responsibilities you now bear on your own.

Anger. Even if the loss was not your fault, you may feel resentful and angry. If you have lost a loved one, you may be angry with yourself, God, the doctors, or even the deceased for abandoning you. You may feel compelled to point the finger at someone for the injustice that has been done to you.

Seeking support for grief and loss


The agony of bereavement can make you want to withdraw from others and retreat into your shell. However, having the face-to-face support of others is critical to healing from loss. Even if you're not comfortable talking about your feelings in normal situations, it's critical to do so when you're grieving.

  1. While talking about your loss can help ease the burden of grief, it doesn't mean you have to talk about it every time you see friends or family. Being in the company of people who care about you can also provide comfort. The key is to avoid isolating yourself.
  2. Turn to your friends and family for help. Even if you pride yourself on being strong and self-sufficient, now is the time to lean on those who care about you. Rather than avoiding them, draw close to friends and loved ones, spend time together face to face, and accept any help that is offered. People often want to help but aren't sure how, so tell them what you need—whether it's a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or simply someone to hang out with. If you don't feel like you have anyone with whom you can regularly connect in person, it's never too late to make new friends.
  3. Recognize that many people feel awkward when attempting to console a grieving person. Many people find grief to be a perplexing and sometimes frightening emotion, especially if they haven't experienced a similar loss themselves. They may be unsure of how to console you and end up saying or doing things that are inappropriate. However, don't use this as an excuse to withdraw into your shell and avoid social contact. If a friend or loved one contacts you, it is because they are concerned about you.
  4. Take solace in your faith. If you follow a religious tradition, accept the solace that its mourning rituals can offer. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you, such as praying or meditating can provide comfort.
  5. Participate in a support group. Even when you have loved ones nearby, grief can be very lonely. Sharing your grief with others who have suffered similar losses can be beneficial. Contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counselling centres to find a bereavement support group in your area, or see the links below.
  6. Talk to a therapist or grief counsellor. If your grief feels like too much to bear, find a mental health professional with experience in grief counselling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.

Taking care of yourself as you grieve


It's more important than ever to take care of yourself when you're grieving. The stress of a major loss can deplete your energy and emotional reserves quickly. Taking care of your physical and emotional needs will assist you in getting through this difficult time.

Face your emotions. You can try to suppress your grief, but you won't be able to do so indefinitely. To heal, you must first acknowledge your pain. Trying to avoid sadness and loss only serves to prolong the grieving process. In addition, unresolved grief can lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health issues.

Feelings should be expressed in a tangible or creative way. Even if you are unable to discuss your loss with others, writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal, for example, can be beneficial. You could also express your feelings by creating a scrapbook or volunteering for a cause related to your loss.

Maintain your hobbies and interests as much as possible. Routine provides comfort, and returning to activities that bring you joy and bring you closer to others can help you come to terms with your loss and aid in the grieving process.

Don't let anyone tell you how you should feel, and don't tell yourself either. Your grief is yours alone, and no one else can tell you when to "move on" or "get over it." Allow yourself to feel whatever you want, without fear of being judged. It's fine to be angry, to yell at the sky, to cry or not cry. It's also okay to laugh, find moments of joy, and let go when the time comes.

Take care of your physical health. The mind and body are inextricably linked. When you're physically healthy, you'll be able to cope emotionally better. Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise to combat stress and fatigue. Don't use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or to artificially lift your mood.

How to Help When Others Are Grieving

When someone has suffered a loss, it can be difficult to know what to say or do. We do our best to provide comfort, but even our best efforts can feel inadequate and unhelpful at times.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid rescuing and repairing. Keep in mind that the person who is bereaved does not need to be fixed. In an effort to be helpful, we may make uplifting, hopeful remarks or even use humour to try to alleviate their suffering.
  • Although the intention is good, this approach can leave people feeling as if their pain is not being seen, heard, or validated.
  • Don't push it. We may want to help and make the person feel better so badly that we believe nudging them to talk about and process their emotions before they are truly ready will help them faster. This is not always the case, and it can actually be detrimental to their healing.
  • Make yourself available. Allow people to grieve in a safe environment. This informs the person that we are available when they are. We can invite them to talk with us, but we must remember to provide understanding and validation if they are not yet ready. Remind them that you are available and that they should not hesitate to contact you.

 

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