Whenever we lose something, we grieve. You experience emotional pain when someone or something you love is taken from you.
It is not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed by the pain of loss. Shock, anger, disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness are all difficult and unexpected emotions you may experience. It can also affect your physical health, affecting your sleep, eating, and even your ability to think clearly. There is nothing unusual about these loss reactions. However, the greater your loss, the greater the intensity of your grief.
A loss of a loved one or something you cherish is one of life's most challenging experiences. The most intense type of grief is caused by the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief.
Common causes and types of grief.
In addition to the death of a loved one, grief can be caused by other kinds of significant losses as well. The loss that is less obvious or significant sometimes makes it harder to recognize symptoms of grief.
There are a number of causes of grief, including:
You or someone you love has been diagnosed with a life-changing illness
Job loss or retirement
Cancellation of a significant event
“An empty nest” is when children are grown and moved out
The death of a beloved pet
The different types of grief.
As grief is a unique experience for everyone, it's hard to label any type of grief as either "normal" or "abnormal". Grief can show different types of symptoms and reactions than those described above, however.
In contrast to post-traumatic grief, anticipatory grief occurs before a significant loss occurs. In some cases, grieving may begin before the full impact of the loss has been felt. Examples include terminally ill relatives, aging pets, or retirement or job loss.
A mixture of confusing emotions, particularly anger, may accompany anticipatory grief. In some instances, people refuse to grieve before their loss occurs, equating it to giving up hope. Anticipatory grief, however, can also provide you with a chance to finish any unfinished business before your loss, or even say your goodbyes.
Whenever an individual, community, society, village, or nation experiences a great deal of change or loss, they will experience this type of grief. It can manifest after major events, such as wars, natural disasters, political or social upheavals, major economic slumps, pandemics, or terrorism.
Over time, it may become easier to cope with the loss of a loved one, but the pain may never completely disappear. It may be a sign of complicated grief if it doesn't, and it keeps you from returning to your ordinary life.
In the aftermath of losing a loved one, complicated grief usually occurs if you are still in a state of bereavement after the loss. The loss of a loved one can leave you in a state of uncertainty, searching for them in familiar places, experiencing intense longing, and even feeling as if life seems pointless.
Reach out for support and take the steps you need to heal if you're suffering from complicated grief and the pain from your loss is unresolved.
Grief is sometimes not able to be processed when we experience a loss. Often, this occurs because we are caring for other family members, because external events (such as a Coronavirus) prevent us from grieving properly, or because we don't recognize the extent of a loss.
The experience of disenfranchised grief is characterized by devaluation, stigmatization, or a lack of open mourning. Often, people minimize the loss of a job, pet, or friendship as something that shouldn't be grieved. Losing a loved one to suicide or suffering a miscarriage may feel stigmatizing.
Having an unrecognized relationship to the deceased can also cause disenfranchised grief. It may be inappropriate for some people to grieve for a close friend, neighbor, or coworker. It is possible that you will not receive the same sympathy and understanding as a blood relative if you are a close friend or same-sex partner. The grieving process and coming to terms with your loss can be even more difficult as a result.
How to cope with grief and loss.
Just like there is no one right way to grieve, there is no one right approach to managing grief. A lot depends on the individual and the unique experiences they have.
In light of this, some coping strategies may be helpful.
1. Embrace your feelings.
Loss leads to grief, which is a natural part of the grieving process. A person cannot grieve if they do not allow themselves the chance to do so. Let yourself grieve and let it run its course naturally. You will benefit from facing your grief if you do so.
2. Schedule time for self-reflection and introspection.
It's common to feel as though there is no meaning to your life after losing a loved one. Researchers have referred to this situation as a "crisis of meaning," and they've found that reconstructing meaning could be one solution.
You can accomplish this by making a helpful or important change in your life that feels like you're improving or growing, which can help your loss feel meaningful. Spending more time and energy with your loved ones, for instance, could be beneficial.
In addition to helping you identify and construct meaning in your life, journaling or writing about your lost loved one may also be beneficial to you.
3. Speak with family and friends.
Even if you pride yourself on being strong and self-sufficient, now is the time to rely on the people who care about you. Face-to-face time with friends and family is more effective than avoiding them, so spend time with them and accept their assistance rather than avoiding them.
If you need someone to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or even just someone to hang out with, let people know what you need. Even if you don't have anyone to regularly connect with in person, you can build new friendships at any time.
4. Practice self-kindness.
You will feel more like yourself as time goes on. Don't worry about not "doing better" or "keeping it together." You will feel like yourself more and more as time goes on.
5. Keep in touch (somehow) with those you have lost.
Following the death of a loved one, Freudian psychologists usually advised people to "let go" and "move on." This advice may be no longer relevant.
According to the growing literature on "continuing bonds," most survivors of bereavement maintain an enduring bond with the deceased in one way or another. Normally, we don't let go of everything, but we let go of certain things.
In other words, holding on can be healthy and helpful sometimes.
People who grieve maintain bonds with their lost relatives in four ways. Among them:
Having a feeling that your lost loved one is near you. Despite some finding it strange, this appears to be both a common and helpful experience.
In your head or out loud, you can speak to the dead.
Invoking the deceased's moral guidance. For instance, a particular situation or dilemma may inspire you to imagine how your loved one would have handled it.
Learn more about the deceased by speaking with friends and family members who knew them.
These ways of staying connected are different from refusing to accept your loved one's passing. An attempt to deny the loss may be a sign of disordered grief.
6. Join a support group.
Even with loved ones around, grief can feel lonely. You can get support from others who have suffered similar losses. You can find a bereavement support group near you by contacting your local hospital, hospice, or funeral home.
7. Follow a schedule.
Even if you're staying home, dress and groom. Make sure you eat small, frequent meals. And, as much as possible, maintain your regular schedule, like work or exercise.
8 Be supportive.
You may not feel the same pain as someone else. While your loved ones grieve, it's important to support them. Give them your time and attention.
When you have children, you must listen and be supportive. Answer their questions directly as they arise, and let them work through the process. By not answering questions or answering them in a roundabout way, children may make up stories and even blame themselves for the deaths.
9. Seek therapy or grief counseling.
Consult a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling if you feel overwhelmed by grief. Grieving can be difficult unless you have an experienced therapist by your side.
10. Expect recurring grief.
Even years after a loss, holidays and birthdays can trigger grief. Be prepared to handle grief when these triggers appear.