The longer we live, the more likely we are to experience the grief of passing loved ones. We may even have to deal with the death of a spouse. Grief can be physically and mentally debilitating. The pain will feel unbearable for most us. That is why it’s important to be aware of the grieving process and the best ways to take care of ourselves during this time.
What are the stages of grief?
WebMD outlines the stages of grief as such:
Denial: When you first learn of a loss, it’s normal to think, “This isn’t happening.” You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.
Anger: As reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too.
Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only…” and “What if…” You may also try to strike a deal with a higher power.
Depression: Sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely.
Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life.
How to Get Through Grief
There is no escaping grief. Trying to ignore it or drown it out will only postpone healing and could lead to mental health issues. Mental Health America recommends the following advice:
Seek out caring people. Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.
Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.
Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief.
Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.
Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss.
Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.
Seek outside help when necessary. If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.
Grief is a part of life. Everyone will have to experience it. It helps to be aware of the stages you will go through and accept the fact that you might mourn for months or years. Prepare for the stages of grief, take care of yourself, and seek out professional help if needed.
What has been your experience with grief?
What has helped you cope?
Visit the Online Grief Support Forum.
And never forget – A Smile Changes Everything!