Grief is a profound and overwhelming feeling of loss which happens after the death of a loved one, but can also be the result of a life-altering event such as a divorce, break-up, or even losing a job.
No matter what the cause is, grief is an extremely difficult emotion to deal with, and it affects every individual in a different way. There’s no universal timeline for overcoming grief, but the universal key to this process is finding a healthy way to cope with the utter devastation you feel.
STAGES OF GRIEF
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According to the widely-accepted Kübler-Ross model, there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
However, it’s essential to emphasize that the order of these stages isn’t linear and specific, as well as that not all people will experience each stage.
The first stage, denial, is a mechanism which helps your body and mind survive the shock by suppressing the reality.
Anger is a beneficial part of the healing process, as it allows you to vent your frustration instead of bottling everything up. Bargaining is the stage of false hope, and it’s usually fueled by guilt.
Depression is the stage that is commonly closely associated with grief and bereavement, and it starts at the moment when we become aware that our reality has changed and it’s characterized by the feeling of emptiness, numbness, and hopelessness.
Acceptance is coming to terms with the new reality, and it doesn’t mean that everything is ok all of a sudden – but that you’re ok with that.
The fact that you’ve reached the acceptance stage doesn’t mean that you won’t feel anger or hopelessness over the same loss again, but good days become more common than the bad ones.
MYTHS ABOUT GRIEVING
Given that grief is a complex concept, there’s a number of myths surrounding it.
Some of them are:
If you ignore and suppress your grief, it will wane faster. The fact is that if you refuse to confront and deal with your pain, you’ll hinder your healing process and make your burden heavier with time.
It’s crucial to be strong. Crying and being sad is a normal reaction to loss. There’s no reason to force yourself to put on a brave face as it won’t make you feel better.
Grieving shouldn’t last more than a year. Many people take significantly longer than that. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. However, when you’re feeling stuck and suffocated by this feeling of despair, wishing you could move on but just not knowing how, don’t hesitate to seek help. Whether it’s energy healing for grief and sadness or regular visits to a grief therapist, consider different strategies that can help you feel better and regain your inner balance.
As for the length of the grieving period, it’s important to understand that it also depends on different factors such as your age, personality, support network, or the type of loss. It’s not surprising that you’ll suffer longer and harder over losing a loved one than a break-up of a romantic relationship.
HOW TO DEAL WITH LOSS AND GRIEF?
Grief will put you on an emotional roller coaster – you’ll have a lot of ups and downs as well as mood swings. It’s essential to understand what can help you stay afloat when it seems that you’re drowning.
Research has shown that widows and widowers have a 41% higher risk of early death, which is why it’s critical to approach your grief constructively and find a way to relieve it.
Face your grief. Avoiding these painful and unpleasant feelings can be harmful to your health, as unresolved grief can lead to substance abuse, anxiety and depression, and other mental health problems.
Take comfort in your friends and family. Even when you don’t feel like talking or sharing your grief, be with those that care about you and tell them what you need and how they can help you.
Join a support group. Sometimes being in the company of those who feel the same can be beneficial – these people have been through the same experience and they can understand you on a much deeper level.
Take up a hobby. Establishing some kind of routine is good for your mental health, and it’s even better when you engage in activities that bring you joy.
Express your feelings through journaling. Writing about your feelings every day, as well as writing about your loved one who isn’t with you anymore can bring you comfort and help you process the pain you feel.
You shouldn’t rush yourself as it’s best to take your time and follow your inner pace. But don’t let grief take control over your life and prevent you from ever experiencing joy again.
Written by Sarah Kaminski
Author Bio – Sarah Kaminski is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She’s been a freelance writer for over a decade and loves researching health and wellness topics.