How to Cope with Grief and Loss Effectively
Loss is a natural part of life. However, this reality doesn’t make losing a loved one any easier. When it happens, you may find yourself overwhelmed with sadness and confusion. You may also wonder what life will be like without the person around you.
Are you strong enough to make it through life without them?
Grieving is a complicated process. But as they say, time heals all wounds, and this includes losing a loved one. Research shows that most people recover from loss on their own as time passes by. However, it helps to have a reliable support system during this tough time.
Grief is also quite personal. Everyone reacts differently. You may withdraw, cry, feel empty, become angry or depressed. The timeline is also unique to every person. Nonetheless, there are certain commonalities in the stages and feelings experienced during grief.
Besides, there are some ways to cope with grief and feel better. What are they? How text therapy can help you? Find out below.
What Is Grief? What Can Cause It?
Grief is one’s natural response to loss. When someone or something you love is taken away from you, it’s only natural to feel sad and experience emotional pain.
Loss takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions such as disbelief, anger, sadness, shock, and more.
Your physical health may also be affected, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think. This experience makes coping with grief quite challenging. You’re not alone — everyone who’s experiencing loss deals with this mixture of overwhelming emotions.
However, while grief is often associated with death, any type of loss can cause grief. Some examples include:
- Loss of employment
- Health problems
- Loss of a dream
- A serious illness of a loved one
- Loss of safety after a traumatic event
- Selling a childhood home
- Death of a pet
- Life changes like moving away from home or graduating from college
Symptoms of Grief
Loss affects people differently. However, most people experience certain common symptoms while grieving.
The important thing to remember is that everything you’re feeling is normal. You may feel “crazy” and as if your world has changed for the worst. Other times, you may question your beliefs. It’s normal.
Some common symptoms of grief include:
- Aches and pains
- Weight loss or weight gain
What Are the Stages of Grief?
There are 5 stages of grief. However, not everyone goes through all the stages because our experiences are unique and personal. For example, some people remain in one stage for a long time then skip through the next stages.
Nonetheless, it helps to understand the different stages to know where you are and the grieving process as a whole.
The stages include:
Loss is overwhelming. It’s not unusual for people to respond to this emotion by pretending nothing has changed or they’re not affected. This response makes the impact of the loss easier to manage as one begins to process the news.
As you move out of the denial stage, the emotions you were denying start becoming apparent, and you may find yourself overwhelmed with sadness.
While most people go through the denial stage as a coping mechanism, anger is a way of masking one’s feelings. Anger is often directed to the person you lost, the person who caused the loss (e.g.) a boss, a spouse, etc.), or inanimate objects.
At this stage, you understand that the object of your anger isn’t at fault, but your emotions blind you to that fact. Not everyone goes through this stage of grief. However, some people stay in this stage for a long period.
When they’re coming out of it, the anger subsides and they start embracing the emotions they were running from.
At this stage, you find yourself trying to regain control and fix what you lost. This stage comes with a lot of “what if” and “if only” statements. The purpose is to escape from what’s happening and find a fix.
During the depression stage, you’re slowly beginning to accept the loss. You may find yourself isolating, feeling like in the fog, withdrawn, hopeless, emotionally empty, and experiencing symptoms of mental illness.
Acceptance may not come with feelings of joy, but this is the stage of stabilization. At this stage, you may still feel sad and sometimes depressed, but you’ve accepted the loss, what it means for your life, and you start to go forward.
You appreciate that there’s a possibility of more good days ahead.
How to Deal With Grief: 6 Ways to Help Yourself
Dealing with grief is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re coming to terms with the sudden changes in your life. However, it’s crucial to find healthy ways to cope and move forward.
Some of the self-help ways to cope with grief include:
A problem shared is half-solved. Whether you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one or any other type of loss, it helps to talk about it.
Opening up helps you remember the good times and come to terms with what’s happening. If you don’t talk about it, you may end up isolating, which may disrupt your healing process.
Grief can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Push yourself to exercise, eat healthily, and get plenty of sleep. Do what makes you happy and brings peace of mind. Love yourself!
Don’t forget to check in with your loved ones who are affected by the same loss. Showing up for each other makes the healing process easier.
Embrace Your Feelings
Grieving exposes you to all types of negative emotions. Some days you feel angry, on other days you feel exhausted, and sometimes you can’t stop crying.
You’ve gone through a tremendous loss. It will take time before you’re back to normal again.
Therefore, embrace the emotions as they come and don’t try to push them away. And don’t act in a way you believe everyone expects you to act.
Remember and Honor Your Loved Ones
Losing someone you love isn’t easy. Even when you’ve reached the acceptance stage, and you’re slowly moving forward with your life, there will be times when it’s too much. For instance, anniversaries and birthdays are especially hard.
There’s a better way to deal with this. Take such important dates as a day to remember those you lost. Some people find honoring their loved ones on their special days helpful.
You can gather friends and family to remember the person or set up a charity in their name. This approach brings joy to a sad life event.
It takes time to get over a loss and move forward with your life. However, you may feel pressured to get to the moving forward part.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t rush your grief process. Give yourself enough time to get to a point where you’re ready to move forward.
Find a Creative Outlet
It helps to distract yourself to avoid getting into a cycle of prolonged grief. Finding a creative outlet is one way to do it and release your emotions.
Doing so doesn’t mean you’re running from your emotions or avoiding having to deal with them. It just allows you to focus on other things so that you can prioritize your mental health.
When to Seek Professional Help for Grief
If you want to discuss your feelings with someone, if the emotions are overwhelming, or if you experience symptoms of depression, grief counseling can help.
Grief can lead to serious emotional struggles, life-threatening health conditions, and even suicide. A therapist will provide a safe space to address what you’re going through and offer effective coping strategies.
Talk to a mental health professional if you:
- Lost your will to live
- Blame yourself for a loss or not being able to prevent it
- Have difficulty trusting others
- Are unable to do everyday tasks
- Feel numb and disconnected from others
- Need to understand and discuss your emotions
Calmerry’s mental health professionals can help you cope with grief and loss and find the path to start living a fulfilling and happy life.
If you are in a need of emergency, call 911 or +1 (800) 273-8255 — National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.