Coping with grief
The process of grief
Grief is a natural response to loss. Grief has no set pattern. Everyone experiences grief differently. It can include pain, anger, sadness, guilt, depression, denial, fear, regret and loneliness. Because it is a reflection of what we love, it can feel all-encompassing. Often these feelings are bewildering, but are very common and expected.
It is often described as involving a number of stages, from shock to eventual recovery. Other describe it as a rollercoaster of emotions and grief can be revisited over a period of time.
Grief is something that takes time to work through. It is important to have the support of friends and family, or a professional to talk about your loss. Grief is unpredictable, there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
When you first learn that someone you love has died, your immediate reaction may be shock. You may feel disbelief or bewildered, particularly if the death was sudden or unexpected. This is a natural reaction.
Expressing your feelings is a positive way to release the emotions and progress through the healing process. It is normal to want to cry, shout, be angry and reminisce. Many find it helpful to write journal entries about your loved one or speak with friends or family.
In releasing your emotions you can become depressed and feel lonely. This is the time when you realise your loved one has gone forever. You may become disinterested in daily activities or no longer feel enjoyable in the things that you would normally find joy.
Remembering and reminiscing on memories you shared with your loved one is a natural part of the grieving process. Whilst, it may seem to hurt more, it can bring you some relief to share your memories and feelings with others.
Feeling guilty about events outside of your control can lead to depression. You may begin to blame yourself or others for the death. “If only I’d been there for her” or “If only I hadn’t let him go there” are thoughts which may constantly cross your mind. It is important to share your feelings, and practice self care.
It is normal to experience anger and aggression. Talk to someone you can trust and feel comfortable to discuss the death and your feelings.
You may experience certain physical symptoms during the course of your grieving. It is important for your health and well-being to take the time to look after yourself. Eat healthy meals and eat regularly, exercise, aim to get a good night’s sleep and visit your doctor.
Signs of recovery
It will take time to work through the grieving process, but eventually you will start to feel better and ready to get on with your life again.
The length of time it takes to work through the grieving process varies from person to person. The painful feelings will diminish over time, but if they remain intense and prolonged, then it may indicate that professional help is needed.
If you need support, we can put you in touch with counsellors and support groups who may be able to help you. You are not alone – there is professional support who can help you navigate this time and manage your grief.
Helping to cope with grief
The grieving process will be a difficult time, here are some ideas to consider:
- Keep in contact with family and friends
- Express your emotions openly. If it will help, talk to a friend, relative or counsellor about your feelings
- Keep a diary to help you to follow and understand your path through the grieving process
- Plan your social events ahead of time so you have something to look forward to
- For a change of scenery go and stay with friends or family who live some distance from you
- Join a social club or organisation to meet new people
- Join a volunteer organisation to help others
- Delay making major changes, such as selling a house
- Join a bereavement support group