Let’s Talk About… Grief
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one – and this type of loss does often cause the most intense grief. But any loss can cause grief, including: a relationship breakup, a loss of health, losing a job, loss of financial stability, a miscarriage, the death of a pet, loss of a cherished dream, a loved one’s serious illness, the loss of a friendship or the loss of safety after a trauma .
The more significant the loss to the person, the more intense the grief is felt. However, even subtle losses can lead to grief. For example, you might experience grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, changing jobs, selling your family home, or retiring from a career you loved.
People experience and express their grief in different ways. A person who was very close to the individual who has died may grieve more quietly or in a different way than one who was not as close to the deceased. Someone who was surprised by the request for a divorce also may grieve differently than someone who knew that his marriage was ending. While people have different feelings and actions after a traumatic event, there are five separate stages of grief that most people must pass through to move on after a loss.
The grief that follows such a loss can seem unbearable, but grief is actually a healing process.
Sometimes people get stuck in one of the first four stages. Their lives can be painful until they move to the fifth stage – acceptance.
Stages of Grief
When a death or loss first occurs, the grieving person will experience denial. The person feels numb and in shock. He may withdraw from family and friends. He may also still sense, hear, or feel the person that has died or deny that the divorce is happening, or feel as though the loss that has taken place was only dreamed.
The second stage of grief is anger. The bereaved may feel anger at the person who died, at people in their office who were not laid off, and at the situation in general. They may also feel angry with themselves for not doing more, or not stopping the loss from happening, or not being there when it happened. The person will feel that someone must be to blame and may express rage and blame at people who could not have stopped the loss from occurring.
Once the extreme anger has abated, the person may begin bargaining with God or making irrational and unrealistic promises to themselves. They may obsess over details of the past, analysing what could have or should have happened instead.
After the bargaining phase of grief, the grieving person realises that the person that has died is not coming back, that their divorce is imminent, or that they are no longer employed. This brings extreme sadness. They may be unable to eat, drink or sleep, or, conversely, may eat, drink or sleep too much. They may be unable to handle day-to-day decision making and may have little control over their moods.
The final stage of grief is acceptance. While the person may still be sad, they are able to begin their routine activities again. They may talk about their loss more openly and can focus on their positive memories of the past. Acceptance does not mean forgetting the deceased, marriage, job or home, but it does mean moving on with life after the loss has occurred.
Grieving people have two choices
1. They can avoid the pain and all the other emotions associated with their loss and continue on, hoping to forget. This is a risky choice, since experience shows that grief, when ignored, continues to cause pain.
2. The other choice is to recognise grieving and seek healing and growth. In order for growth to be possible, it is essential to allow oneself to feel all the emotions that arise, as painful as they may be, and to treat oneself with patience and kindness.
Feel the pain and give into it, even give it precedence over other emotions and activities, because grief is a pain that will get in the way later if it is ignored. Talk about your sorrow, take the time to seek comfort from friends who will listen even if they do not know how to respond. Forgive yourself for all the things you believe you should have said or done. Also forgive yourself for the anger and guilt and embarrassment you may have felt whilst grieving.
Eat well and exercise so that you sustain your energy and clear your mind and refresh your body. Indulge yourself, take naps, read a good book, listen to your favourite music, get a manicure, see a movie. Do something frivolous, distracting and that you personally find comforting. Make arrangements to be with friends and family members with whom you are comfortable around anniversary times. Once you find new energy, take active steps to create a new life for yourself. Begin to look for interesting things to do. Take courses, donate time to a cause you support, meet new people, or even find a new job. By acting on your grief, you may eventually find peace and purpose.
Let me help you, if you feel like life isn’t worth living, or you wish you had died with your loved one or you blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it, or you feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks, or you are having difficulty trusting others since your loss or are unable to perform your normal daily activities. Please also see my products that can greatly assist lost energy, grief and trauma.
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