What is grief?
Grief is a natural response to the pain of a loss. That loss may be due to the death of a loved one, divorce, or betrayal. Grief can also be experienced while processing the loss of a way of life or the idea of a future a person had expectations for. By its very nature grief is personal and differs from person to person as to its intensity, cause and timetable. There is certainly no right or wrong way to grieve nor is there a set time when it is finally over.
A person with grief may feel like they are going crazy, have deep and profound feelings of sadness, anxiety, or numbness. There may be a loss of interest in things they use to enjoy doing, as well as experiencing slowed thinking or forgetfulness.
Guilt and anger
the guilt may be from regrets or even from feelings of relief (such as when a person dies after a long illness). Anger may be directed at oneself, God, or at the person for abandoning you. Remember, anger is not right or wrong, good or bad - it just is.
sleeplessness, weight loss, pains in different areas of the body including the chest and abdomen, headaches, nausea, and crying. However, a lack of crying is not a signal that grief is not present. Each symptom is individualistic and a parameter for what could take place, not what will take place.
Suggestions on how to deal with grief and loss
Remember your physical health
Getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercise is crucial for dealing with the difficult days ahead. On those days when curling up in a fetal position may seem like all you want to do, try throwing on some sneakers and take a walk around the block or in the park. Take a kickboxing class. Try swimming. Physical exertion helps release intense emotions.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. If you are worried about revealing intense and angry emotions, thoughts, or feelings you are having even onto paper think of it as a black journal that you will give yourself permission to destroy later. No one needs to read it, not even you. But the very act of focusing and organizing the myriad of feelings enough to give them voice will aid immensely in the healing process.
Getting lost in service may help to bring meaning back into life where it may have been temporarily stripped due to the loss.
Give yourself permission to grieve
It is OK to hurt, to cry, to be angry, or to not be consolable for a period of time. Grieving is hard work, pain is inevitable, and time is always necessary.
Take it one minute, one hour, and then one day at a time
Tell yourself, "I can do this!" and that you can get through that particular moment in time. It does get easier.
Talk it out
- with someone who has been through something similar, with a best friend, a spiritual leader or mentor, or a mental health professional.
Join a support group
You don't have to go this alone. People sharing the same type of grief can buoy each other up and give a different perspective.
Cleave to the spiritual
Loss can cause some people to question their previously held beliefs. If you are religious, turning to more meaningful conversations with God or a deeper study of scriptures can bring an immeasurable amount of comfort. It may not remove the pain or even lessen the grieving process, but it can bring a depth and strength to a person's spirituality as well as personality.
Avoid isolating oneself or abusing substances in an attempt to numb the pain
Pain from loss can be intense but it is doable; you will survive and, with time, that intensity will lessen. Attempting to avoid the pain will only delay the healing process.
Don't underestimate the power of humor
Laughter can be a very cathartic experience and humor, if handled properly, can assist with the grieving process. It is not a sign of disrespect for the memory of the loss but is a healthy way to deal with the intense feelings that arise when the world has been turned upside down.
Expect to work
The grieving process takes time, patience, and a lot of work. It cannot be skipped, ignored, run away from or shut out. Despite the temptation to avoid the messiness of grief now, that grief will eventually come out and will need to be dealt with at a later date - and it won't necessarily be any easier. Some things you can't go around, you just have to go through.
Postpone any major decisions for a year
Move your furniture, change your hair color, find a new gym, but avoid large life-changing decisions like moving to a new house or switching jobs. Avoid the strong temptation to throw or give away reminders of your loss - at least right away. Box things up if you need to and rent a storage unit for a year. Many regrets later down the road can be avoided by simply allowing for some space and time.
Loss is never easy and no one has the right to judge how it should or shouldn't be handled. It may feel like you will never be happy again, but over time life will return to what will feel like yournormal. Take a deep breath and go easy on yourself.
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