Most of us have felt the heavy weight in our chest and the hard lump in our throat that grief brings when we lose a loved one, whether it’s the result of a death in the family or a separation from a significant other. Often, the mental anguish we feel manifests as physical discomfort—a very human experience that reminds us of the emotional pain we are feeling.
While grief is an emotion we can all relate to and empathize with, each person experiences it differently. For some, anger and hostility take the forefront. For others, anxiety and feelings of helplessness come first. Regardless, grief is an individualized process that each of us can learn to manage so that we can continue living healthy and fulfilled lives.
What Is Grief
When we are deprived of someone we value—which often happens when someone passes away or is suddenly detached from our lives—we experience sadness and emotional stress that is called “bereavement.” How we grieve is a result of several factors such as our individual personalities, cultural norms, the circumstances of the grief, and the support system we have to help us through.
Dr. Therese Rando said, “Grief can deplete you to such an extent that the slightest tasks become monumental, and what previously was easily achievable now may seem insurmountable.” Rarely are we prepared to experience loss, which is why it is usually followed with such intense emotions from denial to shock, anger to sadness, confusion to guilt and more.
How to Handle Grief
Grief is a normal part of loss and life. The common phrase, “time heals all,” is often used to describe the process of grieving. While the memory and pain of losing a loved one will always stay with us, the physical aching and pain eventually subside. In fact, loss has a way of bringing us closer to other people in our lives as we lean on one another for support in times of sadness.
While grief is a process we must all go through, there are healthy ways to learn to handle our emotions and behaviours following a loss.
Allow yourself time to mourn – If you need to cry, cry. If there are words you need to get off your chest, let them out. Recognize that grief is a part of who you are and it is not a negative emotion. Mourning is an important step in the process as you adapt to your loss.
Lean on your supporters – It’s likely that if you are mourning the loss of a loved one, there are others also grieving the same loss. If not, look to support groups or friends who can empathize and support you when you need it most. You are not alone.
Focus on your own wellbeing – Grief can result in lack of sleep, loss of appetite and draw back from a regular routine. While you are emotionally healing, you must do your best to maintain your physical health so your body has the strength to push through. You may find that a healthy diet and exercise actually help you to feel better as both contribute strongly to your “happy hormones.”
Seek counselling or therapy – With any loss comes strong emotion, and over time, those emotions can sometimes turn into depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges. Seeking help from a counselor, you will learn to develop coping mechanisms to manage your grief so that you can continue to live a happy and healthy life.
If you have recently lost a loved one, remember that you are never alone. Therapy can help to get your life back on track. If you’re ready to take the next step, contact Your Counselling for a free consultation. Together, we will work through your loss, its resulting grief and strategies to mourn in a healthy way so that you can get back on track.