Coping with Grief and Loss
Grief and loss are universal human experiences that touch us all at some point in our lives. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job or a cherished dream, the feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and loneliness that accompany loss can be overwhelming.
Grief is a normal response to loss. Uncomplicated grief—the typical response to a dear one dying—is full of pain, anguish, regret, confusion, and anger.
Not only does grief impact our innermost emotions -since we no longer have what once meant so much- it also changes other aspects of daily living. These can include:
- Daily routines and activities
- Interactions with the people with whom you spend the most time
- The ways your surviving family members relate to one another
- Feelings of stability
- Your ability to care for yourself and others and navigate the daily demands of living
Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so don’t feel ashamed about how you feel or react, or believe that it’s somehow only appropriate to grieve for certain things. If the person, animal, relationship, or situation was significant to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing.
There are a mixture of emotions and responses associated with grief and you may feel all, some or none of these. However you’re feeling, your feelings are valid and you are not alone.
You might feel:
- sadness or depression
- fear or anxiety
- numbness, or nothing
- concerned with your health or other people’s
Some Types of Grief Include:
Anticipatory mourning is grief that begins before a loss occurs. People dying of terminal illness go through it, as do their loved ones.
Normal grief refers to a wide range of reactions to loss. Some people are more open and demonstrative, while others express grief indirectly.
Secondary loss refers to other losses that follow a death. In some cases, these can be harder to adjust to than the death itself. People who lose a partner may experience a loss of income and social support.
Complicated grief disorder, also called prolonged grief disorder, refers to persistent, severe emotional reactions that occur in response to certain kinds of loss.
Chronic and prolonged grief are periods of grief that can last for years. They are more likely to arise from traumatic loss.
How to Cope with Grief?
But despite the pain, it is possible to cope with grief and loss and find a way forward. Here are some tips that may help you on your journey:
Live one day at a time
Set a regular daily routine and do something special for yourself every day. Do things that bring you joy and relaxation, such as going for a walk, eat healthily, meditate and relax. It’s a good idea to avoid making any major decisions for a year after the death of someone you love. It’s important to take care of your physical and emotional health during this difficult time.
Allow yourself to grieve
Grief is a complex and individual experience, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. It’s important to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with loss, whether it’s sadness, anger, or even guilt. Cry when you need to, talk about your feelings, and don’t judge yourself for feeling what you feel.
It is natural to cry. Many people find crying a relief. Exploring and expressing emotions can be a part of loss. Listening to music or writing can help. When you spend time alone, you can allow yourself to connect with your emotions.
Talking to friends and family members can help you feel less alone and provide you with support and understanding. Joining a support group can also be a helpful way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. It’s important to spend time with supportive people. Accept offers of help, talk about your loved one, your favorite relative, or simply spend time with others.
Improve your physical health
It is also important to look after your physical wellbeing. Even when grieving, it is important to try and maintain regular food and water intake. Do what you can to get enough sleep and be physically active through the day. Discuss any health concerns with your doctor. Being in good physical health contributes to your overall wellbeing.
Create a ritual or memorial
Honoring the memory of your loved one can help you come to terms with your loss. You might light a candle, visit their favorite place, or create a memorial in your home.
Be patient with yourself
Healing from grief and loss is a gradual process, and there is no timeline for how long it will take. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to work through your emotions and come to terms with the loss.
Find meaning in your loss
In the aftermath of a loss, it can be helpful to find meaning and purpose in what has happened. This might involve volunteering, working on a project in memory of your loved one, or finding a new passion that honors their memory.
Seek professional help
If your grief is affecting your daily life, it may be helpful to seek the support of a mental health professional. A therapist like Dr. Carla can provide you with tools and techniques to help you manage your emotions and cope with the loss. Contact Dr. Carla and book a free inquiry meeting with her to discuss what a typical journey with her looks like.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Everyone’s experience is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time and space you need to heal.