Coping With Grief
What is grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.
Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges. You may associate grieving with the death of a loved one—which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief.
What is the grief process?
Famed grief expert, David Kessel, the co-author of “On Grief and Grieving” with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, MD, said there are five stages of grief
These are all emotional tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling.
When we go through this process of bereavement, we spend different lengths of time working through the steps and we express each stage with different levels of intensity. These stages don’t come in any order and not everyone expresses them all.
Pressing into the emotions you do experience, however, can help with your learning to live with the one you lost.
“While working with children going through loss, we sing the “Going on a Bear Hunt,” which I think articulates the grief process well,” Ray said. “We can’t go under it. We can’t go around it or over it. We have to go through grief to find healing and peace.”
Symptoms of grief
While loss affects people in different ways, many of us experience the following symptoms when we’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal—including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious or spiritual beliefs.
Emotional symtomps of grief:
- Shock and disbelief.
Physical symtoms of grief:
- Lowered immunity
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Aches and pain
What to do if you’re suffering from grief?
The pain of grief can often cause you to want to withdraw from others and retreat into your shell. But having the face-to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. Even if you’re not comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. While sharing your loss can make the burden of grief easier to carry, that doesn’t mean that every time you interact with friends and family, you need to talk about your loss. Comfort can also come from just being around others who care about you. The key is not to isolate yourself.
Turn to friends and family members.
Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Rather than avoiding them, draw friends and loved ones close, spend time together face to face, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Often, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need—whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, help with funeral arrangements, or just someone to hang out with. If you don’t feel you have anyone you can regularly connect with in person, it’s never too late to build new friendships.
Accept that many people feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who’s grieving.
Grief can be a confusing, sometimes frightening emotion for many people, especially if they haven’t experienced a similar loss themselves. They may feel unsure about how to comfort you and end up saying or doing the wrong things. But don’t use that as an excuse to retreat into your shell and avoid social contact. If a friend or loved one reaches out to you, it’s because they care.
Draw comfort from your faith.
If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you—such as praying, meditating, or going to church—can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community.
Join a support group.
Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers, or see the Resources section below.
Seek support for grief and loss
Here are some groups you can contact when you need help.
Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email email@example.com, in confidence.
Sue Ryder Charity: Phone 0808 164 4572
Bereavement Advice Centre: Phone 0800 634 9494
Blog provided by BMR Health & Wellbeing