Grief will affect everyone. Grief is our personal reaction to loss. The grieving process is a personal experience which we all experience different ways and find different ways of coping with it. The grief journey is a painful and stressful one. However, it is an important one as it helps us come to terms with our loss. We must all find a way to grieve and at our own pace, always remembering that there is no right or wrong way. This article is written considering bereavement loss but it can be applied to any loss such as the loss of a loved one through divorce, miscarriage or a loss of a pet.
We all grieve in our own way. Some people will cry continuously after their loss whereas others may not cry for months or even years or even not cry at all. Our thoughts and feelings can change from hour to hour, and day to day. Some days will be good, other days we will be down. The cycle of grief is not an easy one though many say that the beginning is the hardest.
What are the thoughts and feelings you may experience?
- Anger – this may be directed towards the person you have lost, yourself or just the world.
- Depression – you may find that you lose interest in life and feel there is no point continuing on.
- Envy – you may envy others for having what you no longer have.
- Injustice – What did this have to happen to me? It is not fair!
- Guilt and regret – you may feel guilty for saying the wrong words when the person was alive or feel guilty for surviving.
- Loneliness – it is a lonely journey. You may feel that no-one understands how you feel or that no-one just cares for you.
- Loss – your loss brings such sadness.
- Shock and disbelief – it may take time for the news to sink in. You cannot believe that the person has died.
You may find that you try to avoid such difficult feelings but for any healing process to occur the pain of grief has to be experienced and expressed.
Grief will also affect your behaviour and thoughts process. You may find your sleep is disrupted, that you lose your appetite and forever feel exhausted. You may find yourself tearful at times when you do not expect it and just lose any interest in anything. Everything just seems meaningless and pointless. And overall you may find that you just unable to cope with ordinary, everyday things.
So what are the steps to coping the loss of a loved one?
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is not an easy step to take and does take courage. Ask someone you trust, a friend, family member, vicar or a counsellor.
- Keeping talking about your loss. This will help you try to understand your loss, it will help you clarify and try to understand the thoughts that go round your head.
- Find ways of expressing your feelings. If you don’t like talking then you may consider writing a diary, poetry, drawing or singing. Many find this a great therapeutic help.
- Make a memory box – put small reminders of the dead person in a box – photos, jewellery, or anything that reminds you of that person. This may be painful at first but in time it could bring you comfort.
- Get some exercise. This is probably the last thing you feel like doing but it will help. Exercise can make you feel slightly better in yourself and is a useful way of using up your excess energy.
- Take good care of yourself. You may feel that you cannot be bothered or that there is no point but exercise will help you feel better. Eat, sleep and rest.
The journey through grief is not an easy one and a painful one. You need coping strategies in your life. The person and their memories will never leave you but you will eventually find a way of living without that person.
Courage To Grieve: Creative Living, Recovery and Growth Through Grief by Judy Tatelbaum Tatelbaum . This book explores how to grieve and how we can help ourselves and others to grieve.
Through Grief: Bereavement Journey by Elizabeth Collick. Elizabeth, herself a widow, Elizabeth writes about her own experience and that of many others to describe what happens, in the hope that it may bring strength and support to those in grief.
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth and Kessler, David
Cruse is a national charity that offers support to those grieving. It offers counselling and a help line on 0844 477 9400
Child bereavement UK supports grieving parents and educate professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.
“Grief does not change you. It reveals you.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars