Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences in our lives. The loss of a loved one can throw you into a place of uncertainty. Allowing the time to grieve, reminisce, reflect and accept will help heal your emotional state. We heal by taking time to focus on the loss, and how it will affect us.
Grief differs from one person to another, and is a normal response to loss. The journey from initial shock and disbelief, to acceptance and emotional stability takes time. The amount of time it actually takes depends on the person. The grieving period can last from several weeks, to months and possibly years.
What is Grief?
Grief, in its simplest terms, is a reaction to loss. It affects us spiritually, behaviorally, physically and cognitively. Our response is affected by our culture, religion, gender and circumstances surrounding the loss. Bereavement is the way we process grief.
When coping with grief you might feel:
- Strong emotions, such as sadness, anger, helplessness and loneliness.
- Numbness, or a sense that the situation isn’t real.
- Physical reactions, such as insomnia or waves of nausea.
- Spiritual reactions to a death. Some people find themselves questioning their beliefs and feeling disappointed in religion, while others find that they feel more strongly than ever about their faith.
- Separation from family members and friends.
- A loss of interest in hobbies and melancholy.
- Memory loss, shortened attention span or difficulty communicating with others.
Other physical symptoms related to grief are:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Headaches, chest pain or high heart rate
- Digestive problems
- Hair loss
- Night sweats
How To Get Through Grief
After a personal loss, things will never be the same; it is something we have to accept and embrace. Dealing with grief, cutting stress and continuing a meaningful life, will honor your loved one, while preserving cherished memories. Dealing with grief is hard, however, the only way out is through.
- Express yourself. Share your emotions and feelings with someone you trust.
- Don’t be ashamed. It is okay to cry, mourn, miss and grieve.
- Shift your sadness to something pleasant. Practice taking your mind off of the sadness and think about pleasant memories shared.
- Find new hobbies and interests. Distracting yourself with something new will allow you to express your emotions in a new way.
- Consult with a grief counselor, or join a community group in your area. Contact your local funeral home for more information on grief counseling.
- Take time off. Don’t jump back into your daily routine right away. Take time to recompose yourself before heading back to work, school or your every day life.
- Help others. Giving to others will take the focus off your pain.
- Focus on your spiritual beliefs. Our religious beliefs play a large role in the way people view death. Take this time to embrace your emotions, and enrich your spirituality.
- Celebrate life. Do something in honor of your loved one. For example, plant a tree, give a donation to their favorite charity or create a scholarship in their name.
Overcoming grief doesn’t mean forgetting; it is passing through the pain and remembering the good times shared with your loved one. With support, patience and effort, you will survive grief. The pain may never go away, but in time it will lessen and become a cherished memory in your life.