After someone passes, his or her surviving family members and friends usually enter a state of bereavement. As Mental Health America (MHA) points out, it’s no wonder dealing with the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things you will deal with in life, often leading to a major emotional crisis; you are literally deprived of this person’s love and the light he or she brought to your life.
Mourning and Grieving
Mourning and grieving are two different experiences associated with losing a loved one. MHA defines mourning as “the natural process you go through to accept a major loss.” Mourning may include religious traditions, such as a funeral that honours the loved one. Oftentimes, people gather with friends and family to celebrate the life of the deceased. Mourning is a personal experience that can last months or years.
Grieving is how you express the loss of your loved one, and can be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically. For example, crying is physical, and depression is psychological. As the MHA notes, allowing yourself to express these feelings is a crucial part of letting go and moving forward. Although you may feel like separating yourself from the pain and isolating yourself from others, resolving your feelings can help you get to a healthy place psychologically and emotionally.
How You Will Feel
When someone you love passes, you will experience a wide range of emotions. Grief is often described as a series of stages, but there is not a proper order to the grieving process. You may feel denial, numbness, shock, anger, guilt, relief, sadness, or yearning throughout the grieving process. Feeling these emotions is a healthy and necessary part of coming to terms with your loss. It takes time to fully grasp how the loss impacts your life.
The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth states that many people will also feel physical symptoms when they lose a loved one. Physical responses to grief include digestive problems, sore or tight muscles, fatigue, headaches, and chest pain or pressure. People can also have a feeling of heaviness in their bodies. Existing illnesses may even worsen.
Grieving requires the support from other people, says UMass Dartmouth. So don’t be afraid to open up to family and friends and let them be your support system. You can reminisce with family and friends about the good times you shared with your loved one. Friends and family can also provide physical comforts such as meals, backrubs, or shoulders to cry on.
You may also consider finding a support group of other people who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Some support groups are even specialized. For example, some may only be open to those who are mourning the loss of child. If you are religious, you may also find support from your place of worship or religious community. Support can also come in the form of consulting a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. Talking about your feelings, no matter who it’s with, will help you feel less alone. It can help to feel understood and acknowledged in your grief.
Finding Time for Yourself
In addition to getting support, there are other ways you can cope with the loss of a loved one. Some people find it helpful to express their feelings through writing, playing music, or making artwork. Others plant a garden or build a memorial. No matter how you cope, be sure you take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting an adequate amount of sleep.
Photo Credit: 52Hertz, Pixabay
When you lose someone you love, you naturally feel grief. Grieving is a necessary part of letting go of a loved one in order to keep on living in a healthy way, says the American Cancer Society (ACS). Although grieving is painful, it will get better, and you can get through it.
Your Unique Experience
According to the ACS, grieving involves many different emotions, actions, and expressions. These ranges of feelings help you cope with the loss of a loved one. Remember, people will experience grief in different ways. Villanova University states that research has shown the stages of grief differ for each person, and there is not a right way or proper process for grieving. “People mourn in different ways, depending on personality, gender, life situation, circumstances of the loss, and support from others,” they state.
You may feel numb, shock, anger, guilt, relief, or sadness. These are all normal emotions associated with grief. Some people will feel physical symptoms when dealing with the loss of a loved one, says WebMD. These symptoms can include headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, weakness, fatigue, feelings of heaviness, aches, pains, and other stress-related ailments.
Appropriate Time Frame
Grief is often described in stages, but as the ACS points out, it may feel more like a roller coaster with ups and downs. At times, you may feel like you have not made any progress in dealing with the loss, or you may feel better for a while, only to regress. These are all normal processes of grief. There is not a specific or correct time frame for grieving.
According to the ACS, several factors can affect the intensity and length of grieving are, including your relationship with the person who died, the circumstances of their death, and your own life experiences. Villanova notes that “because your loved one was very important to you, the grieving process is never fully over, and subsequent losses in life may stir up feelings again.” However, the intensity of your grief will diminish overtime. Eventually, you will reach a point where you have adjusted to daily life despite not having your loved one there with you.
Remembering Your Loved One
Creating a positive memory can assist you in your grieving process. There are many ways to remember the life of your loved one. The Huffington Post offers heartfelt ways to honour their memory. You can name a star after them. You can do this by just looking up to the sky and choosing the brightest star to symbolise the light they brought to your life and remind you that you are not alone. (Side note: having a star “officially” named after someone has “no formal or official validity whatsoever,” according to the International Astronomical Union. It is essentially a scam.)
Also consider donating to a charity in honour of your loved one or doing something for your community every year on your loved one’s birthday. “It is a beautiful way to ensure they live on through your actions,” says the Huffington Post. Even doing something positive every day while thinking of your loved one keeps their memory alive. For a sentimental memory, find or create a decoration that represents your loved one and make it a ritual to place it in your home each year during the holidays.
Reaching Out to a Professional
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines a psychologist as a trained professional who helps other people manage the emotions they feel when dealing with the death of a loved one. A licensed psychologist or another mental health professional can help you find ways to move forward using a variety of evidence-based treatments. You can use the APA’s locator to help you find a psychologist near you. Also, check with your insurance companies, as most have a search engine to locate a specific doctor or specialist in your area.
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