A part of life that everyone is sure to experience at one time or another is to have loved and to have lost. Losing a loved one is the greatest fear of many, yet it is inevitable and can still be overcome. While grieving is experienced differently by everyone, there is no right or wrong way, although it is necessary to take healthy steps as you get through such a difficult process. Do not feel ashamed or guilty for your personal grieving situation. Knowing how to get through the grieving process is the first step in handling this ordeal in a healthy and beneficial way.
First, let’s understand what it means to grieve. While grief generally is understood as sadness, it encompasses several other emotions. These can include anger, heartbreak, relief, shock, vengefulness, guilt, and confusion, among others. Its symptoms can manifest physically in bouts of lost appetite, body pains, trouble sleeping, and difficulty focusing. Moreover, grief does not necessarily have to contain all of these or some of these or any of these.
Grief is personal, and for that reason, it is experienced differently from person to person. Not only will different people feel grief differently, they will also require different steps to recover from it.
Grief is personal, and for that reason, it is experienced differently from person to person. Not only will different people feel grief differently, they will also require different steps to recover from it. It is important to understand that no way of experiencing grief is wrong or shameful, and it is not in your control how you experience it, only how you choose to deal with it. In all cases however, the grieving process is fundamentally painful and difficult. It results as a natural, emotional, and sometimes physical consequence of loss. While loss is common in day-to-day life, the specific loss of a loved person is expectedly different – it can cause you to reconsider your own priorities and perspectives on life, to feel empty.You may experience feelings of neglect or being wronged by a higher power or fate, among others. Cases of loss may arise from situations beyond just deaths; any separation including fallouts, divorce, moving away, or even losing jobs can result in grief.
Sometimes, a prognosis might forewarn you about when you can expect to lose your loved one, and other times, the loss might be sudden, as in the cases of accidents or emergent medical situations.You might think that having a warning beforehand might make for an easier grieving period, but that is not always necessarily the case. In some cases, the ticking clock can make you more stressed out leading up to the event of your loved one’s death, or cause you to be unable to savor your last moments with your loved one. Keep in mind that having an “if only I had known” or “if only I had seen it coming” mentality might only serve to hurt your mental well being, as it can shift your focus onto the lost opportunity instead other more important matters at hand.
Be mindful of acceptance of loss as being a key part of readjustment.
The first step after knowing your grief is addressing it, and that is done by simply experiencing it. While grief is a generally negative emotion and results in much turmoil or unrest, it is important to feel your grief and to allow yourself to experience it without blocking it out. Trying to shut it off can result in severely unhealthy coping mechanisms or manifest into serious physical ailments. Additionally, the unresolved mourning will a persist indeterminately long time and elude you of much-needed closure.
Sometimes, people may be ashamed of their grief or believe that they need to show an impermeable and impenetrable front; this rarely allows a grieving person to recover from their loss and can easily result in an unstable psyche or an exhausted body and mind. In cases where you are the leader of a group who have all experienced the loss, such as within a family or a team, you might think you need to be unaffected in order to present a pillar of strength to those around you. However, it can be more helpful to them if you present a sympathetic and emotionally understanding source of relatability, and it will also be to your own benefit to process your feelings. Coming to terms with your emotions as you grieve can be a healthy way to reflect on your loss and perhaps understand and process your grief.
Oftentimes, grief cannot be handled alone. It is a burdensome state of mind, alleviated by just reaching out for help. Seeking support from friends, family, and peers can allow you to feel heard and sympathized with. In many instances, loss of a loved one is accompanied by a sense of loneliness, but interacting with others after the loss can ignite necessary personal fulfillment and provide a grieving person with the feeling that someone is there for them, and that they are not alone. You can join counseling programs to get in touch with members of your community or others online who have also experienced similar loss and can relate to you. These gatherings can offer personalized advice and enlightening anecdotes. Finding people who have gone through what you have can help make your grief feel surmountable and less oppressive. For some, such communal bonding is not as comprehensively helpful as seeking professional therapy, which can further help you to deconstruct your turmoil and process your loss in a healthy way.
When trying to dampen the negative emotions attached to grief, another helpful behavior is to express what you feel. Keeping yourself from bottling up doesn’t always have to translate as speaking with others; you can find an outlet in art or crafting or journaling. You can preserve memories in many artistic ways and always have something to look back on fondly in the remembrance of your loved one, from scrapbooks to photo albums to playlists to letters. Not only can these activities let out your hurt or fear or sadness, they can also stimulate some lightness and refresh your mind, lifting the fog of grief. When losing a loved one, these outlets can also preserve the memory of your beloved and allow you to honor them in ways that bring you comfort or make you feel near to them. Sometimes, an activity that makes you feel close to your lost loved one is just the kind of closure you may need.
Another helpful way to manage yourself in times of grief is to keep yourself healthy physically. Because grief can be exhausting, it is easy to succumb to a depressed and monotonous routine, or to neglect routine altogether and wallow. The loss of appetite or lack of motivation commonly associated with grief can cause someone’s health and well being to decline if they fail to eat or go about their day. Be mindful of adhering to your body’s needs even if it feels difficult or seems pointless. Disregarding your meals, exercise, or work can result in the symptoms of your grief worsening and may even prolong your low. Find engagements that are comforting and calming; such pastimes can help keep the negative emotion subsided or assuaged and evoke some positive emotions as well. For some, it’s helpful to develop a new routine and abide by it for a renewed sense of accomplishment or stability as they work through their mourning. Creating new rituals can kindle purpose and revitalize you in the wake of your loss. Self-care practices are commendable, and can include anything from a relaxing spa day to an indulgent walk outdoors. It might help to allow yourself a treat once in a while to lift your spirits, even.
Another thing to watch out for is ensuring that you don’t set deadlines or time constraints on your emotions. Deciding that you’ll get all your grief done and out in two weeks or a month or however long can cause more harm than good. Again, the grieving process is unique to each person, and that means that some people need a lot more time than others, and some people move on quickly. Neither is a wrong way. However, trying to manipulate the course of your natural emotion into arbitrary time frames can mean you aren’t allowing yourself to fully grieve until reaching closure or even that you drag on your grief in an unhealthy way when you could already be feeling better. Remember, there’s no hurry and your health should always come first! It is natural for some to take 30 days to process a significant loss, while others may need a year or two (or longer). The important thing is that you allow yourself the liberty to process and work through your emotions.
In any case, always be sure to take the time to understand yourself and your needs. The above tips mentioned are general suggestions, and may not apply to everyone. If you find your grief to be especially burdensome or desperate, be sure to access medical help and partake in psychological or emotional therapy. Remember that emotions are important and that loss is a part of life. Be patient with yourself and your emotions and take the time to reflect on yourself, your life, and your love. Being in touch with these aspects can make inevitable personal loss just a little more bearable, and hopefully, you can emerge from your mourning in a healthy and beneficial way. Remember your hospice team has a bereavement program to help you process grief run by trained counselors and spiritual advisors who can help support you during this difficult journey.
If you are experiencing and overwhelming grief and need someone to talk to, please reach out to us. Regardless or not if you your loved one was a patient, the Lenity Light Hospice of Texas team is always here to help.