Effective Ways to Go Through Grief and Loss
Everyone experiences grief at some point in life. It can be because of the death of a loved one, losing a job, or a break-up. It is a personal journey where everyone has unique coping mechanisms and a timeframe for dealing with loss.
Experiencing loss is one of the toughest challenges to face in life. Grieving is an important stage after a loss since it helps a person try to move on with life.
This article offers some advice on healthy ways to deal with grief and loss.
Grief: What It Is and What the Causes Are
What is grief?
Grief is the response you have to loss. It involves the suffering that a person goes through when they lose someone or something they value.
Grief is overwhelming and causes intense emotions such as shock, fear, guilt, anger, and disbelief.
We commonly associate grief with death, but various situations also cause it:
- Losing a job
- Losing a pet
- End of a friendship
- Loss of a personal dream
- Selling or losing the family home
- Loss of financial stability, etc.
Grief mostly depends on a person’s perception of a loss. For example, some people might view losing a job as a mere life lesson and not experience an emotional blow. Another person might find the exact situation earth-shattering and feel the need to be alone for some time.
In this case, professional mental help through text therapy helps get through the tough times and heal faster from the loss.
Symptoms of Grief
There are common symptoms among people experiencing grief. We’ve divided them into emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms.
Emotional Symptoms of Grief and Loss
Indicators of grief and loss manifest through emotions. Here are common ones:
- Negative thoughts
- Feeling detached from life and others
- Relief if the person was suffering from a long illness before
- Inability to experience or show joy
Your behavior might change when you experience a loss and grief. Below are the behavioral signs to note:
- Feeling restless and being hyperactive as a coping mechanism
- Loss of concentration
- Sleep changes and sometimes nightmares
- Appetite changes
- Drinking or use of drugs to cope with the loss of a loved one
- Reduced or increased sexual activity
H3: Physical Symptoms
Your body will react in various ways when grieving. The most common include the following:
- Panic attacks
- Chills, sweating, and or increased heart rate
- Skin problems
- Extra sensitivity to light and sound
- Chest pain
- Weakened immune resistance
The Stages of Grief
What are the stages of grief?
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed the theory of the 5 grief stages by identifying the common emotional reactions people have to a loss.
Even though people grieve differently, they usually go through similar stages. They include:
It is usually the first response when someone encounters a loss. Denial acts as a defense mechanism for the immediate shock of the situation.
It involves doubting reality even when you are in its sight. Denial is temporary, and reality soon kicks in when a person is ready.
In this stage, people manifest their pain through anger. One becomes angry at the world, the situation, objects, people, themselves, and their loved ones.
This stage also includes feelings of irritability, rage, bitterness, and impatience.
The bargaining stage involves holding on to hope in a terrible situation. A person starts thinking about what they would do to return things to the way they were.
They might also start thinking of what they would have done differently to prevent the loss. Guilt is the primary accompanying emotion at this stage.
Depression is understandable when dealing with grief and does not necessarily signify a mental health issue. In this stage, one starts facing reality and accepting the inevitability. It is accompanied by feelings of despair and sadness.
Acceptance is the final stage of grief. Acceptance cannot be confused with healing. It is when a person acknowledges the loss they have experienced and learns to live with it by making life adjustments.
People are more comfortable reaching out to others during this stage, but some choose to stay withdrawn.
Note that a person can move back and forth between stages. For example, you might be at the acceptance stage and then move back to feeling anger or be depressed.
Furthermore, a person does not have to go through all the stages to heal.
How to Deal with Grief: 8 Ways to Help Yourself
Everyone’s grief is unique. You can take weeks to heal or deal with a loss for years. However, the intensity of grief subsides after some time.
Coping with a loss is difficult, but try and make the journey easier on yourself through the following tips.
Let Yourself Experience the Pain
Even though it is difficult, you need to let yourself experience the pain of loss. Grieving is natural and even healthy. Allow yourself to fully experience your feelings, whether it is rage, sadness, shock, or loneliness.
Don’t judge yourself for having some of these feelings. The release of emotions is an integral part of the process. So, don’t be afraid to cry or scream if you have to.
Do not rush your grieving process. Every person has their own pace for healing after a loss. Some people heal much faster than others.
Don’t judge yourself for taking more time to grieve than you thought you would. Take the duration that feels right to you.
Turn to Others for Support
When grieving, it is natural for people to isolate themselves from others, including friends and family. Seek support from the people you care about and those who care about you closer instead. Spend more time with them and accept the help they provide.
Besides, talking to others about what you’re going through might help you process your feelings.
Express Your Emotions
Find creative ways to express your feelings for grief and loss, for example, through music or art. Or you can keep a journal and note down your thoughts and feelings. A journal helps you keep track of your progress over time.
You can also write a letter to your loved one saying the things you never got to say.
Engage in Physical Activities
Physical activities are good for coping with grief. If you used to go to the gym, slowly work your way back. Other healthy activities include taking walks, running, cycling, and even golfing.
Exercise helps in releasing anger and frustration. It also keeps you distracted from negative thoughts that can easily be brought by grief.
Take Care of Yourself While You Grieve
When a person grieves, it is easy for them to neglect themselves. Take care of yourself through exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating healthily. Even if you experience insomnia or loss of appetite, try to work around them and stay healthy.
Reach out to other family members and make sure they are also taking care of themselves and maintaining their health.
Help Others Coping with the Loss
Spend more time with the other people who are grieving. You can help others get through what you might be experiencing by spending time with them. When you help others, you also get better, and so it benefits you.
It’s normal to feel guilty about how you left things between yourself and the deceased. Death is unexpected, and so we sometimes have regrets about not having the chance to say or do some things.
Process the pain from regrets and any unfulfilled wishes and focus on the happy memories you already have.
When to Seek Professional Help for Grief
In the event of a loss, many people have the support of family and friends, but some do not. In such a case, seeking the help of an online grief counselor from Calmerry will help you get through these dark times.
Since people grieve differently, seeking online professional counseling can be recommended on a case-by-case basis. However, prolonged grief is a sign that a person needs therapy to cope with their loss.
Other signs that you might need counseling include:
- Sleeping difficulties
- Eating problems
- Neglecting self-care
- Feeling worthless
- Suicidal thoughts
Coping with a loss is a personal journey, and no one can tell you how to feel because we don’t all experience the same feelings. So, you can only trust your feelings and heal at your own pace.
However, be sure to seek grief counseling when it gets too tough. You deserve to be happy!
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has been working in healthcare since 2017. She mainly treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, grief, identity, relationship, and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience is focused on individual and group counseling.
Follow Kate here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-skurat-5348381b9/