Grief is one of life’s hardest emotions but sadly is also one that we will all experience at one stage or another. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, however, there are healthier ways to approach the grieving process and we’ll explore them in this post.
What is grief?
Before we get into discussing the healthy ways in which you can deal with grief, it’s important to take a step back and understand what grief is. Grief is your emotional response to the loss of someone or something you love and can present itself as a number of different emotions. Grief is often associated with death and this is because the death of a loved one can spark some of the most intense forms of grief, but grief can also be felt for a number of other loses such as;
- The loss of your health
- The loss of your job
- A breakdown in your marriage or relationship
- The loss of a pregnancy
- The loss of a pet
- The loss of a friendship
- The loss of a family home
- The loss of a cherished possession
Grief can also manifest from other smaller life changes such as a change in schools, a change in jobs, retirement or moving away from home. It’s normal to grieve losses and to feel grief at these times is completely normal.
What does grief feel like?
Grief can feel like different things to different people but most would describe it as pain. Grief can also be felt as;
Immediately after a loss the bodies first response can be that of shock and disbelief in what has happened. This can manifest it as expecting someone you know has died to turn up even though you know it isn’t possible or denying that an event has happened even though the truth is before your eyes.
Anger is another completely normal part of grief and even if the loss was nobodies fault you may be feeling resentful or be looking for someone to blame.
Loss is often something that is out of your control which can lead to feelings of frustration. You may feel as if you could have done something to prevent what happened, or be frustrated that action wasn’t taken sooner.
Guilt is another common feeling experienced after a loss. You may feel guilty about something you said or something you did when the person was alive, or perhaps you feel guilty that you didn’t manage to prevent the inevitable.
A feeling of profound sadness is probably one of the most widely felt symptoms of grief. You may feel despair or emptiness and it is normal to also feel depressed. It’s normal to cry a lot during grief and to feel a sense of emotional instability.
The emotions of grief can also disrupt your daily life, making it hard to sleep, eat, work and function on a day to day basis. The more significant your loss the more extreme your feelings of grief may be. Some of the physical symptoms of grief you may experience include;
- Feeling unusually tired
- Feeling physically sick
- Having a lowered immunity and getting sick more easily
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Unusual aches and pains
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
What are the stages of grief?
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was the first to introduce what we now know as the five stages of grief.
Although these five emotions have been identified as the five common stages of grief it’s important to note that not everyone will experience grief in this way or in this order, and if you do happen to go through these five stages they may not stand out as independent moments in time but will likely blur together. Elisabeth herself did not want these five stages to be used as an explanation for grief writing, ‘“They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”.
How can you approach grief in a healthy way?
When grieving a death, the funeral process can be very difficult, this process can be made easier by dealing with a sympathetic funeral director such as Phillip Stephens Funeral Home. The pain of grief can often cause those suffering from it to want to disconnect from their social circle and withdraw from society, however in order to heal it’s important to try and seek face to face support. Try to take comfort from your friends and family, lean on those that care about you and take help when it is offered to you. Remember that many people struggle with what to say when it comes to grief, but simply being in the presence of someone who is trying to support you is beneficial. Another option is to reach out to a grief support group which can help you to share your loss with others who have experienced the same pain. If your grief feels overhwelming then you may also wish to speak to a grief counsellor who can help you to understand your feelings.
Face your feelings
Suppressing grief is not healthy, face your feelings head-on and acknowledge what you are feeling. Pushing down your feelings can lead to problems later such as substance abuse, depression and anxiety.
Try to keep up your normal routine
Find comfort in your routine and try to get back to your hobbies and interests that spark joy, this will help you heal and find comfort outside of the grieving process.
Plan ahead for things that may trigger your grief
Certain dates or milestones may trigger your grief, try to plan for these occasions and work with your friends and family to find a way to cope with them.
Look after your physical health
The mind and the body are connected, grief can be very strenuous on the body and so not looking after yourself during this time can make your grief worse. Try to eat, even if you are not feeling hungry, rest and allow yourself time to recover.