The loss of a loved one can be so heartbreaking, overwhelming and be disturbing. It could make one not see the essence of living or shut out from family, friends and the world in general. Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges. Such a person is likely to experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also dis- stabilize your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to expressing loss. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain in that with time your sadness would cease and you would be able to come to terms with your loss.
What is Grief?
Grief is a multifaceted response to loss. Particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Grief can also be said to be the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be. Asides emotional response to loss, it also has particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Griefing maybe associated with the death of a loved one, which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief but any loss can cause grief, including:
- Losing a job
- A miscarriage
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Loss of health
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a cherished dream
- Change of environment
- Graduation from a stage in life ( School )
- Loss of financial stability
- Loss of a cherished dream
- Loss of safety after a trauma
- A loved one’s serious illness
- Loss of a friendship
The grieving process
Grieving is a highly individual experience; there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you.
Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Stages of Grief
Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? What have I done to deserve this?”
Transactional: “ Let this not happen, and in return, I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “Things as such happens, and that is life”
Myths and Facts about grief and grieving
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
Myth: It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
Myth: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
Myth: If you don’t cry, it means you are not disturbed by the loss.
Fact: There is no specific time for grieving. How long it takes differs from person to person.
Myth: Grieving should last about a year.
Fact: Moving on means you’ve accepted your loss—but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you.
Myth: Moving on with your life means forgetting about your loss.
How to Handle grieving Process
Grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, that is bound to happen & there are ways to cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief and eventually, find a way to pick up the pieces left and move on with your life.
- Understand that your grieving process has to do with you
- Acknowledge your pain
- Accept that grief can trigger many different emotions
- Understand that your grieving process has to do with you
- Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically
- Seek face-to-face support from people who care about you
What Frame of time is too Long to Mourn?
There’s no “normal” amount of time to grieve. Your grieving process depends on a number of things, like your personality, age, beliefs, and support network. The type of loss is also a factor. For example, chances are you’ll grieve longer and harder over the sudden death of a loved one than, say, the end of a romantic relationship.
Symptoms of grief
While loss affects people in different ways, many experience the following symptoms when grieving.
Emotional symptoms of grief
- Shock and disbelief
Physical symptoms of grief
A lot of people think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including:
- Weight loss
- Lowered immunity
- Aches and pains
The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain center stage. If the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it keeps you from resuming your life, you may be suffering from a condition known as complicated grief. Complicated grief is like being stuck in an intense state of mourning. You may have trouble accepting the death long after it has occurred or be so preoccupied with the person who died that it disrupts your daily life.
Symptoms of complicated grief include
- Denial/ Disbelieve of the death
- Searching for your deceased loved one in familiar places
- Intense yearning for your deceased loved one
- Thoughts or images of your loved one
- Avoiding things that remind you of your loved one
Recognizing Depression & Grief
- Intense, sense of guilt
- Thoughts of suicide
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Slow speech and body movements
- Inability to function at home, work, or wherever you find yourself
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
The Difference Between Grief and Depression
The ability to differentiate between grief and depression is not always an easy task as they are quite alike and share similar symptoms, and even at that, there are ways to still recognize the difference. Grief can be a roller coaster, It involves a mix of good and bad days. Even when you are in the middle of the grieving process, you will still have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and sadness are constant.
Are Antidepressants of any help?
In general, normal grief does not warrant the use of antidepressants. While medication may relieve some of the symptoms of grief, it cannot treat the cause or stop it totally either, It also delays the process of healing. Rather than these, there are other steps you can take to deal with depression and regain your happiness & joy in life.
When to Seek Professional Help
Once you start experiencing symptoms of complicated grief or clinical depression, talk to a mental health professional right away, as an unattended depression & complicated grief can lead to emotional damage, life-threatening health problems, and even suicide.
Other Symptoms you encounter that should make you see a counselor or professional therapist
- Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
- Wish you had died with your loved one
- Feeling disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
- Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
How to Deal & Manage Your Loss
- Realize that everyone deals with death differently
Everyone who encounters a problem has different ways of tackling the issue, so it is also as it has to do with dealing with loss. Reactions are bound to be different so don’t bother comparing your situation with those of others. Some people cry their self to sleep, others hold back their emotions, while some expect the pain to go away in a specific time. People process and accept death in different ways, knowing this would help you in your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is a personal phase and journey in life.
- Open up and talk about it, when you are ready
Speaking to someone is one very quick and easy way to get over something, there is a saying that a problem solved is half solved. You might see talking to someone as a reminder to something you don’t want to talk about or remember, but the truth is that it would help you not internalize the all the pains and help you process the event. Opening up about your feelings starts the healing process. Whether it’s to a parent, best friend, sibling, professional therapist, counselor or a complete stranger, opening up about death does not mean you are weak — it means you are strong enough, to be honest with the world, but most importantly yourself.
- Be vulnerable
Pretending to be fine when you are not, to avoid people worrying about you, consoling you, or avoid the reactions of family members when you express yourself, or so as not to appear weak and vulnerable is not the right thing to do. Taking that singular action would shut the care and support you really need when you let yourself be vulnerable, you invite others to be vulnerable around you. Only then can anyone be of help to you when you need it and you to them when they need you,
- Allow your friends to be there for you.
Asking for help when you need it from true friends is not a bad decision, no matter what it is that you are going through they would never know that unless you let them in. If they are your true friends, you should not hesitate or feel reluctant to ask them. Times as such are when you need someone around to make you happy. With that, you would slowly reconnect with friends and know what great feeling it is to have someone who cares.
- Stop the Intoxication
Intoxication is never a way out of pains, thoughts, sadness or any emotional trauma. Cry, groaning and drinking would only mask the pain you feel for a while it would never stop, not take it a permanently. This action makes you keep getting hurt and it slows your healing process.
- Take a Time Out
When you’re grieving, it feels like nothing else is happening in the world, and all you seem to do is focus on the negativity that’s happening around you. You forget that the world is filled with beautiful, positive, inspiring things because you’re in your own immediate environment, which at the moment kinda sucks. Traveling away from that environment of the place of occurrence helps.
- Do what you love ( Hobbies )
Losing a loved one is painful and tells that life is short and anything can happen at any time. Keep yourself busy by doing the things you love and enjoy doing, and if possible can do for a long time.
- Cherish the memories of your loved one
Hard as it may sound, but it can help you heal when you cherish the memories of your loved one, and the time you spent together. Celebrate their lives don’t focus on their death. Cherish the memories, continue their legacies. They’re never truly gone, they are always here with us in spirit.
- Give yourself time to heal.
Don’t think that you have to get back to “normal” because that will never happen, and that is the fact. But you have to move on taking your time as there is no magical time count, or person pressurizing you to heal up. You are not expected to be perfect. Your struggles build your character. Your experiences make you unique.
- Draw Comfort from Your Faith
Comfort can be gotten from your faith if you believe. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you such as- praying, meditating, or going to church can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a Pastor, Rev, Bishop, clergy member or others in your religious circle that you can confide in.