We have all dealt with grief at some point in our lives, and it can be as simple as going through a breakup, or it can be as life-changing as coping with the loss of someone near and dear to us, such as a spouse, parent, sibling, or partner. We all deal differently with grief, and truth be told, there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. Someone may deal with the loss in an altogether different way from someone else, and it doesn’t mean that they have an easier time.
For example, you may confide in a close friend or family member or keep things bottled up inside. But more often than not, we all go through different stages of suffering – it’s a matter of knowing these stages and acting accordingly. It’s undoubtedly true that coping with someone’s loss can be one of the biggest challenges we’ll ever face, but if we understand it and recognise its varying stages, it can be possible to get through it and move forward. Here’s everything you need to know about dealing with grief – understanding what it is, going through the process, and seeking help and support.
Bereavement: what it is
We all have an idea of what grief is, but it is only by experiencing it that we know exactly what it is. It can be one of the most difficult things we ever have to go through, even though it’s inevitable. Whether you’ve lost a friend, partner, spouse, parent, sibling, child, or any other person you are close to, the bereavement process makes you feel a wave of emotions, from deep sadness to emptiness to shock and numbness to regret and guilt. Some of us even feel rage or anger at the situation, and this anger can extend to the person’s doctors, other loved ones, and even to yourself or God.
It is unfathomable at this point even to think how we can live on and how we can ever recover from such a loss. However, grief is not just about the emotional response to a loss – it’s also about our physical response to that loss, which includes weight gain or loss, changes in appetite, sleeping difficulties, and even various aches and pains leading to a weaker immune system.
The support you have from family and friends matters a lot, and it’s also your personality and your health level and your sense of well-being that will play a role in the impact of grief in your life. If you believe you can overcome this, it will happen – and regardless of the pain you feel right now, you should know that there are ways to cope with grief and before long, you will come to terms with it – whilst remaining true to your loved one and unfolding a new chapter of your life with their memories to sustain you.
How to deal with the loss
As funeral directors like www.carrollandcarrollfunerals.co.uk explain, it is often after the funeral – when all is said and done – that we experience the actual loss for the first time. It is only normal to feel somewhat ‘numb’ on the days leading up to the funeral, as we are often kept busy attending to our loved one’s affairs and what-not. It is why a funeral director is of tremendous help because they can help you sort through the intricacies of the funeral arrangements.
But when everything is sorted, and the last mourner leaves the chapel, we feel the immense loss. It is when you shouldn’t judge yourself and put a time limit on your grief. Grieving for someone takes time, whether it’s a few months or even several years – again, there is no right or wrong length of time to mourn the loss of someone. You have to do it on your own time and in a way you see fit – but there are certain things you can do to make the process easier and more bearable, as outlined below.
1. Open yourself up to the grief
As you grieve, there are many emotions that you feel – and these emotions can be intense and sometimes unexpected, hitting us at sudden and striking moments. But the thing is, you have to allow yourself to feel it, no matter how much it hurts. By doing so, you are somewhat purging yourself of the grief – and believe it or not, and you will feel better afterwards. But, as most counsellors would point out, the only way to get over grief is to grieve.
2. Know that the process is unpredictable
You may have heard of the different stages of grief. We all go through a range of emotions in the grieving process, be it denial, depression, anger, or even bargaining. Eventually, we will go through acceptance. But many of those who have gone through these stages find that it’s not predictable. It doesn’t mean that if you’ve gone through denial, you will feel depression next. It is more akin to an emotional rollercoaster, and the best you can do is hang on for dear life. Others can experience all stages, but others only experience anger or bargaining. It’s true that at certain periods, your feelings will differ. However, you must learn to accept it and see it for what it is.
3. Reminders are a way to process your grief
Know that some days will be different from others, and you may feel the pain and loss more starkly. There will be special reminders of this person, such as a photograph, a song, or a memory, and all these can trigger strong emotions that may affect you – but this is normal. It is normal to feel this way, and there are some days, such as a birthday or an anniversary – that you can prepare for. You can speak to your family and friends about it; perhaps you can all celebrate it and mark the occasion the best way you know how.
It is difficult now, but things are bound to change. When you move on, it doesn’t mean you will forget them – it simply means the pain will have abated and it will be easier to bear – but the love you have for them is forever.