One of life’s most difficult experiences is losing a loved one. It would be somewhat easier if grief followed a linear path, with stages that neatly fit into boxes. But big feelings can emerge throughout the grieving process.
While emotions can be consuming, they are not permanent states. Here are some insights into the grieving process and ideas to keep in mind when you feel overwhelmed.
It won’t feel like this forever:
On bereavement, counsellor Kimarie Knowles likens grief to waves cresting and then crashing at the shore. Part of what people find helpful is riding the wave, she says. Understand it’s coming up, try to find support, take care of yourself, and allow it to go.
You can handle it, even when you feel like you can’t:
It’s human nature to want to avoid painful experiences. When we lose someone important to us, we may feel like we won’t be able to cope with the pain of grief. But “we only learn about our capacity to handle things by moving through them. When we try to stifle or avoid our feelings, they can come on much stronger when something triggers them, she says. Making space to experience painful emotions allows us to practice our resilience and grow our own internal resources.
Be gentle with yourself:
Grief is exhausting. Emotional experts suggest caring for your body during periods of intensive stress. Carve out time for naps, eat nourishing foods, and drink plenty of water. Alcohol and sugar may seem like quick fixes, but they can actually have the opposite effect.
Think in cycles, not lines:
An American counsellor, Susan Glaser advises that if you reach a point where you’re feeling good only to feel bad again, it’s not a sign that you’ve relapsed or gotten worse. It’s how grief works, and it’s actually forward movement. Grief is a series of loops. You can circle back to where you were some time ago.
Your feelings are normal:
The pain of grief itself is hard enough to tolerate. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel: anger, sadness, even relief. The emotions that accompany grief are all valid. Everyone comes to their loss experience with their own story, their own unique context and meaning. Whatever they are feeling at a given moment, it always makes sense.
Grief can bring meaning:
There’s no getting over the loss of a loved one. Instead, you can find ways to incorporate the loss into your life as you move forward. Grief is a natural response to loving someone. Though we all have past experiences that may influence how we see ourselves, grief provides an opportunity to reflect on what matters most to us.
You’re not alone.
You don’t have to suffer alone. Support is here for as long as you need it. Reach out to family members, trusted friends or colleagues, in both group and individual settings. You can also reach out to the closest certified emotional doctor in your community.
Do you have any question or comment? Do share with us in the comment section.