The inevitable death is a part of life. The death of your loved one could be among the most devastating experiences to happen to an individual throughout all their lives. Losing a loved one and the difficulty of dealing with the unexpected loss is a shock. It has always been a complicated subject that is rarely sought to be dealt with anywhere in the world.
Grief is the feeling of how one feels naturally when they lose a person they valued or loved. People often describe grief as a feeling of overwhelming sadness and pain, whilst others report feelings of numbness or detachment from their emotions. The different ways of response can often be complicated and confusing to manage.
The state of grief one feels can persist over a long period and, if not correctly addressed, can negatively impact one’s health emotionally and physically. The involuntary delay in the healing process of grieving can show up and trigger illnesses. Such illnesses are frequent headaches, a lack of appetite, trouble sleeping, stomach troubles and even suicidal thoughts. Thus, let us explore the different ways to better cope with the grief of losing our loved ones, which we will face someday.
Let us start by first understanding that when an individual experiences grief, they go through five distinct stages.
5 Stages of Grief
In the 1st stage of grief – Denial, an individual cannot comprehend the sudden loss they experience. Thus they believe that the event is unreal and a mistake.
As the reality of the situation sets in for the individual, the initial grief felt can escalate to Anger which is the 2nd stage of grief. In this 2nd phase, an individual will always attempt to justify the loss by pinpointing or criticizing those they perceived to be responsible for the events leading to the death of their loved ones.
This leads us to the 3rd stage of grief – Bargaining. In this phase, that person unable to accept the sudden loss of loved ones will attempt to bargain with each involved person or entity in hopes of being in a position to reverse the demise of loved relatives.
When reality finally shows an individual that death is irreversible, it leads to the 4th stage of grief – Depression. Despair, sadness and isolation then start to creep into the grieving individual.
The final stage of grieving is called Acceptance. It occurs when the person accepts the loss of loved ones and attains an inner calm and peace while coming into a state of harmony with their whole incident.
The above five stages allow one to better understand the grief process; it is not absolute and not applicable across all individuals. It may be helpful to view these stages as different natural coping strategies to employ in the grief process. It should be remembered, too, that other individuals need different amounts of time to comprehend the situation. Thus, it definitely does not mean one is wrong if one does not feel certain emotions after experiencing a loss.
Grief is a process and concept comprising a range of experiences, not an emotion. It provides comfort for individuals whereby they can acknowledge that this is a temporary phase and will all end.
7 Helpful Tips to Remind Oneself When Tackling Grief
Tip 1 – Remember the “positives & upsides of grief.”
We should never forget that individuals who are grieving will be experiencing various symptoms. One of them is Rumination when individuals reflect on perceived errors or mistakes in losing loved ones and wish they could revert to what they did. This can cause stress for the grieving person over and above the emotional burden of grief they already have to deal with.
One suggestion is to attempt to deal with grieving for loved ones through thinking of things that are “positive and upsides” to the grief. Take note that this intense emotion and sadness show the sentimental and emotional love one feels for the person who passed away. It can also help mark new chapters in an individual’s life as the grief will force one to change and adapt.
Tip 2 – No time limit on the grieving process.
We must understand, too, that there is no “correct way to grieve” as everyone grieves differently. Therefore, a suggestion is to ensure that any time limit placed on the grieving process could indirectly create a dateline and add pressure on the current mental state of the person who is grieving.
Grief will lessen with time, but it will not be realistic to feel completely absolved of sadness when thinking of losing your loved ones. The only reason that people have difficulty coping with grief is usually due to a significant loss. Thus, it makes perfect sense if we experience certain emotions suddenly and be reminded of our suffering. Instead of eliminating the grief, accepting this inherent uncertainty and managing this sadness is probably a healthier and more attainable goal for helping ourselves overcome grief.
Tip 3 – Do not compare grief.
In the age of social media, it is easy to reach out to others and, at times, compare one’s grief to others. We are social creatures who learn from the people around us, so it is only natural that we tend to start comparing. Therefore, another helpful tip during grieving is to resist the strong impulse to compare your grief. Misery loves company, and we all yearn for others to be able to understand the current state that we are in.
This makes us comfortable and makes us feel normal. However, every individual possesses unique circumstances and feelings toward the loss. Comparing your grief with others will only backfire, as it will always turn out and feel different from the people around you. This will eventually cause you to feel more alone than you ever were.
Tip 4 – Seek out the proper support.
Even though one should not compare their grief, another tip is to seek out the right support at times. Seeking the proper help from others is one of the most common pieces of advice in dealing with losing our loved ones. However, seeking the right kind of support is essential, though expressing feelings and talking about your grief does not apply to everyone. You do not need to feel the need to talk about your sorrow all the time just because you are grieving.
There are many other forms of seeking social support. It can simply be going out with your friends or family without talking about your grief. There is some form of social pressure in the current community that pressures individuals to grieve with everyone around them. It could ultimately cause one to avoid people and activities they usually enjoy. Therefore, seeking the proper support is an essential tip in this process. This is your grief process, and you rightfully decide who or when you want to talk about it.
Tip 5 – Knowing it is okay to feel more than just sadness.
The most commonality among people who are going through the grief process is the belief that it is wrong or unnatural to feel any other type of emotion other than sadness. Although sadness is a huge part of a significant loss, it rarely is the only emotion involved.
Limiting oneself to only sadness can end up invalidating the other complex aspects of the grieving process. These rigid expectations of oneself can often magnify the individual’s suffering. Therefore, another tip is that one should always remind oneself that feeling more than just sadness is okay. Healthy grief is embracing the full spectrum of emotions with adequate compassion and understanding of oneself.
Tip 6 – Taking self-care.
One of the most challenging and most under-appreciated parts of a healthy grieving process is to take care of yourself and your body. Amid this significant loss, one often feels lost and disoriented from everyday life. People tend to neglect the healthy lifestyle and efforts they usually invest in. The sudden changes to their lifestyle could pile on the already overwhelming experience the individual has.
The physical body has a more significant influence over one’s emotional state of mind than many people realize. Therefore, the important thing is that the individual must take self-care seriously. This includes a proper diet, nutrition, sleep, and exercise. In addition, you should also dedicate time to grieving in a controlled manner to relieve some of the stress due to the anxiety.
Strangely, purposeful grieving alerts the mind to be prepared for those emotions and it also helps one to feel to be more comfortable and less fearful when facing those emotions, which ultimately assists one in properly validating their feelings.
Tip 7 – Help others with their grief.
Lastly, grieving may be a solo process to many, but as we mentioned, humans are social creatures. An aspect of grieving can also mean being involved in helping others with their grief. This may not be suitable to everyone, but some individuals may feel better when helping others through this process. However, they rarely do so as they may not know precisely how.
In reality, there are none of the direct ways you could offer your friend, but listening and being present for the other side will suffice. You could also provide help such as cooking, babysitting, or running chores that could be a massive help to all the world, mainly when the world has been in chaos.
We need to know that dealing with your grief does not always constitute some form of direct action against oneself. Trying to normalize your life by being there for a close friend can sometimes be a more effective form of catharsis than others.
We are aware of how devastating losing a loved one is but still, suppose one can embrace that fact and see it as a potential to grow. In that case, it can be an empowering experience that eventually benefits the individual and the people around them.
There is an old saying which I believe applies to this very issue: “Accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference.“