There are topics that you can barely find someone to talk about with. The loss of someone you love is one of them, even if death is something everybody has to deal with in life. Today’s article is about grief and grieving.
What is grief?
Grief is our response to loss. Specifically, it is emotional suffering due to the absence of someone/something you love. The feeling is overwhelming, especially during the first half of the year after the loss. It can be a mix of many different emotions, like shock, anger, guilt, or sadness. Grief can also have an impact on your physical health, causing sleeplessness, loss of appetite, or chaotic thoughts.
Most of us associate grief with a loved one dying. At the same time, grief can also be caused by many other events in our lives, like a breakup, loss of financial stability, retirement or maybe selling the home where you spent your childhood.
Loss and grieving are something very personal. Everybody handles these situations individually and it is important to respect your own and other people’s emotions. But it is essential to find a way to move on with your life too – not forgetting, just having a healthy way to live without it.
Myths and facts about grief and grieving
Myth: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it
Fact: It might be a quick fix, but eventually the emotions will come to the surface and hit you even harder. It is better to face your grief and to find a way of living with/through it. This way you will find a way to heal.
Myth: It’s important to ‘be strong’ in the face of loss
Fact: Showing your true feelings and crying are no signs of weakness. The opposite is the truth: You are strong enough to open up and this might even help the people around you with their grieving process.
Myth: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss
Fact: There are many different ways to be sad. Crying is just one of them. If you feel like crying, please do it. Conversely, if you don’t feel like crying, that’s fine too. It doesn’t mean that your experience is less valid. Remember, everybody is different.
Myth: Grieving should last about a year
Fact: Don’t let anyone put a timeframe on your grieving process. Take as much time as you need. A month, a year, 10 years.
Myth: Moving on with your life means forgetting about your loss
Fact: Getting over and forgetting are two different things. While you can go on with your life, you can still dedicate your thoughts to a dead person or to a place you miss. Similarly, you can keep objects that belonged to someone you lost. There are many ways to keep something with you, even if it isn’t physically there anymore.
The five stages of grief
Why are they important?
There will come a situation when you will grief loss of someone you love or people around you will grief. Recognizing these stages might help you to deal with it. You can react to denial and see that the person is not ready to face the truth. Consequently, it helps to emphasize the feelings and react to them more appropriately. Furthermore, if you understand your own stage of grief, it is easier to help you process it and move forward.
- Denial: ‘This can’t be true!’, ‘This can’t be happening to me!’
- Anger: ‘Why is this happening?’, ‘Whose fault is it’?
- Bargaining: ‘Make this not happen and I will __!’
- Depression: ‘I’m too sad to do anything.’
- Acceptance: ‘I am at peace with what happened.’
Things that can help you deal with the loss of someone you love
Turn to friends and family members
When you are grieving, it is not the time for being too prideful. In fact, it’s recommended to lean on the shoulder of people that care about you. Let them help you no matter what it is. It could be just sitting in silence with you, helping with funeral arrangements, or sharing old memories.
Draw comfort from your faith
Religious practices like praying, going to church, or simple spiritual activities like meditation might help you. Just embrace what comforts you and rekindles the faith in a better future in you.
Express your feelings
There are many different ways to do that, like painting, writing a letter, making a photo album, setting up a memorial page on Facebook… It doesn’t matter which one you use. What’s important is that you get your feelings out of your body. Otherwise, they will eat you from the inside out and come back even worse.
Maintain your hobbies and interests
It might seem like I am suggesting the impossible here, right? In reality, it could actually help you deal with the loss of someone you love. Routine is comfort for the human brain. That’s why getting back into the things you enjoy can help you to handle the loss.
Plan ahead for grief ‘triggers’
The first year of grief is said to be the worst because you have to live through all the anniversaries, holidays, and milestones without one important person/part of it. With this in mind, take precautions. Make sure you are not alone or somebody can come by if you are not feeling good. Maybe you can also plan a special event for commemorating your departed loved-one.