Grief is a natural response to death or loss. The grieving process is an opportunity to mourn appropriately a loss and then heal.
When does grief strike you?
Loss of a relationship, divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, terminal illness, bankruptcy.
Grief in stages:
- Denial – This can’t happen.
- Anger – Why did this happen? Who’s the culprit?
- Bargain – Stop this from happening, and I’ll give up something in return.
- Depression – I’m feeling too low to do anything.
- Acceptance – I’m fine with whatever has happened.
Symptoms of grief
- Trauma and denial – Immediately after a loss, it might be difficult to accept it. You may feel numb, have a tough time believing that the loss has happened, or ultimately deny that the unfavorable event has ever happened.
- Sadness – Feeling immensely sad is possibly the most universally experienced symptom of grief following a loss. You may encounter a host of emotions like despair, emptiness, loneliness, or yearning. Moreover, you may find yourself crying uncontrollably or become emotionally vulnerable.
- Guilt – After a loss, you may blame yourself for it or regret taking certain actions and the ones you didn’t. Besides, you may feel guilty for heaving a sigh of relief, after someone has died due to a long and fatal disease. As a result, you call yourself negligent or feel bad for not doing enough to prevent the death from happening, even though there was hardly anything you could do to salvage the situation.
- Anger – You may feel angry and bear deep resentment for the loss, even if it was nobody’s fault. In case you lose someone very close, you could be angry with God, the doctors, or even with the one who died, for forsaking you. You’d seek a person or thing to vent out your anger for the injustice meted out to you.
- Fear – A major loss can invite a range of worries, fears, and insecurities. This could further lead to anxiousness, helplessness or insecurity. Additionally, you could experience panic attacks. With the loss of a loved one, you could contemplate your impending mortality, or fear facing the world alone, or even shrug off taking up the responsibilities you till now shared with the deceased person.
- Physical symptoms – Grief is usually considered to pass following a strictly emotional process, triggered by the loss of someone or something very special. However, grief also brings in a lot of other physical maladies like nausea, fatigue, reduced immunity, sudden weight loss or gain, insomnia, and pain.
How to overcome grief
- Seek emotional support – During the time of deep sorrow, you must lean on the people who can look after you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient.
- Move closer to God – If you’re a religious, then embrace the mourning rituals mentioned in your religion. Resorting to spiritual activities like praying, meditating, or going to church can be extremely comforting.
- Work with a support group – When in grief, you may feel very lonely, even if you’re surrounded by your loved ones. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. Share your sorrows with others and learn about how they have overcome similar traumatic situations in their lives. You can find a grief support group in your locality, or you may contact the local hospitals, funeral homes, and counseling centers.
- Approach a therapist – If your grief is too overwhelming, then you may call a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling to overcome your emotional deadlock.
- Approach a psychiatrist – Often grief can be indistinguishable from depression and a profound loss at any age can trigger a depressive episode in anyone. If you are not able to function and feel paralyzed as a result of grief, consider evaluation and treatment options with your psychiatrist.
How to take care of yourself
- Face your emotional obstacles – You may try hard to suppress your grief, but you won’t be able to do the same for long. So, to let the healing process start, you’ll have to acknowledge the pain. If you continue to avoid your feelings of sadness and loss, then it’ll only prolong the healing process. Suppressed and unresolved grief may lead to other associated complications like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
- Express your feelings – To express your feelings, you may go creative or use tangible means to achieve your objective. For example, you may jot down how you feel about the loss in a journal.
- Look after your health – both your mind and body are connected. When you’re fit physically, then you’ll also feel good emotionally. Try to combat stress and fatigue by sleeping well, following a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Never consume alcohol or drugs trying to feel good.
Antidepressants aren’t needed for overcoming normal grief. But medications can sometimes provide relief from the symptoms of grief, even though it cannot rectify the cause that is the loss itself.