We live in a perilous world where tragedy and sadness can come at any time. 7-10% of those affected by grief cannot cope and develop complicated grief. Psychologists have spent decades researching the most effective techniques for dealing with grief and loss. Grief can affect every aspect of our lives when we lose someone we love—a spouse, family member, friend, acquaintance, or even a pet. It affects everyone differently, and its duration and intensity might vary dramatically.
Sadness-stricken people are sometimes described as being overwhelmed by their grief. Although this type of sadness is most frequently linked with death, it can also be due to other types of loss, such as a divorce or the loss of a job. From shock or fury to disbelief, remorse, and deep sadness, you may experience a wide range of uncomfortable and unexpected emotions. Except for their cherished memory, the one you’ve lost is no longer a part of your present life or future plans, and that fact might hit you like a speeding train and take a long time to accept.
What is Grief?
Grief is a response to losing somebody or something significant to you. You might experience a range of emotions, such as melancholy or loneliness. And you could be experiencing it for a variety of reasons. A loved one may have died, a relationship may have ended, or you may have lost your job. Grief can also be triggered by other life events, such as a chronic illness or relocating to a new house. It is a universal as well as an individual feeling. Individual grieving experiences differ, and the nature of the loss impacts differently.
What are the Stages of Grief?
The melancholy we feel when we lose a loved one can be terrible. Grief is understandably complex, and we often wonder if the suffering will ever end. Nevertheless, there are five stages of grief (but remember these stages don’t come in any particular order):
In the days following a bereavement, it’s natural to feel numb. Some people act as if nothing has happened at first. Even if we are aware that someone has died, it is difficult to imagine that someone significant will not return. It’s also very usual to sense someone’s presence, hear their voice, or even see them after they’ve passed away.
Anger is a natural reaction to someone’s death. Death might seem cruel and unjust, especially when you believe someone died before their time or when you had future plans with them. It’s also natural to experience resentment toward the deceased individual, as well as resentment toward ourselves for things we did or didn’t do before their death.
It’s difficult to believe that there’s nothing we can do to change things while we’re in agony. Bargaining occurs when we begin to form agreements with ourselves, or, if we’re religious, with God. We want to believe that if we do certain things, we will feel better. It’s also typical to find ourselves replaying events from the past and asking a lot of “what if” questions, wishing we could go back in time and change things in the hopes of a different outcome.
Not everyone will go through all the given five stages, and they may not occur in the order listed. Some experts have expanded this paradigm throughout time to include seven stages:
- shock and denial
- pain and guilt
- anger and bargaining
- the upward turn
- reconstruction and working through
- acceptance and hope
What are the Symptoms of Grieving?
The symptoms can be emotional and physical. Depending on what type of grief you are going through, these are the types of symptoms.
- Digestive problems
- Chest pain
- Sore muscles
- Preoccupation with loss
- Inability to show or experience the joy
- Increased irritability
Is There a Correct or Wrong Way to Grieve?
Nobody can tell you how should you grieve; it is a deeply personal process. Many variables influence how you grieve, including your personality and coping style, life experience, faith, and the significance of the loss. Grief is a natural part of life, and it takes time to heal. Each person has their unique ability to accept and deal with pain. As a result, we can’t identify which ones are correct or incorrect. When you’re ready, it’s critical to socialize and engage with others to help you cope with the feelings of isolation that come with grieving.
Some people feel compelled to express their pain by sobbing or talking about it openly. Others may be more hesitant to discuss it, preferring to keep themselves occupied and grieve in secret. This isn’t to say they aren’t grieving; it means they express their sadness differently. For some, just getting through the day is a triumph, so comparing your pain to others seems pointless.
Your Way of Grieving is Appropriate
You might catch yourself asking why you don’t feel better now if things didn’t go your way a long time back. Why can’t you just let go of the past and dance in the sun?
Nobody is fully at ease with grief. You may be self-conscious or believe you aren’t “doing it correctly.” You must trust that your mourning is perfectly fitted to you: your history, personality, relationship with the departed, and circumstances, no matter how awkward it may be.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution…at all! If you had a positive relationship, your sadness is molded by what you had and what you now miss. If you had a rocky relationship, your mourning is influenced by what you desired but didn’t get. It’s possible that you’re more perplexed and conflicted than depressed.
That isn’t to say there isn’t something wrong with you or your grief. Even if your sadness is unique, it is still pain, and you have the right to express it. You have the right to feel better at some point. The most important thing you can do is, to be honest about how you’re feeling with yourself and others. There is no rulebook on how to grieve, nor is there an appropriate amount of time to do so. Grief presents itself in numerous ways.
What Not to Say to Someone Grieving?
We usually avoid explicitly addressing it or saying nothing at all. Despite our best intentions, we might say unhelpful things since we’re focused on helping ourselves get through the uncomfortable moment. We might not be truly present for the grieving person, no matter how much we try. So here’s a comprehensive list of things you should never say to someone grieving as it might hurt them or trigger them in a way:
- “How are you doing?”
- “They’re in a better place.”
- “You’ll be okay after a while.”
- “Stop crying.”
- “There is a reason for everything.”
- “You’re going to grow from this.”
- “When it’s their time to go, it’s their time.”
- “I know how you feel.”
- “She brought this on herself.”
- “You’re handling this better than I expected.”
- “Stay busy. Don’t think about it.”
- “Just give it time. Time heals.”
How to Cope with Grief?
Grief can make you want to aloof yourself from people and retreat into your shell. However, having other people’s support is critical to recovery from loss. Humans are innately resilient, as evidenced by the fact that most of us can survive loss and go on with our lives. However, other people may experience grief for extended periods of time and find themselves unable to carry out regular tasks. Individuals experiencing severe or complex sorrow may benefit from the assistance of a psychologist or grief counselor. Other things that can make you feel better are:
Look to your friends and family for help
Even if you pride yourself on being tough and self-sufficient, this is the time to lean on the people who care about you. Instead of avoiding them, reach your friends and loved ones, spend time with them face to face, and accept the help that is offered. People often want to assist but are unsure how, so tell them what you require—whether it’s a shoulder to weep on, a listening ear, or simply someone to hang out with. It’s never too late to make new friends if you don’t feel like you have someone with whom you can frequently connect in person.
Accept all feelings
Recognize that sensations are inevitable, whether we like them or not. We can only watch as they pass by us, like waves on the ocean or clouds in the sky. Feeling these waves is not weak nor unusual. There are numerous ways of emotional self-regulation that fall under the label of “mindfulness.” It’s also crucial to know when to get help from a professional.
Make time for self-reflection and introspection
You might feel as if your entire world has fallen apart after a loss. This has been dubbed a “meaning crisis” by some researchers, and they’ve discovered that recreating meaning could be one approach to go ahead in a healthy way.
To do so, you may make a positive or significant adjustment in your life—something that makes you feel like you’re developing or better, making your loss feel more meaningful. You may, for example, commit more time and effort to spend quality time with your family.
Journaling or writing about how your departed loved one influenced your life can also be effective in identifying and constructing meaning.
Reach out to a mental health professional
As you begin to move through the complicated emotions that often accompany grieving, a therapist can provide validation and guidance. Grief counselors can also give you coping methods to help you adjust to life again. If you feel that you are grieving about an incident in your life and cannot recover from it, don’t hesitate to contact us.