The journey of coming to terms with the death of a loved one may be one of the darkest roads you’ll ever take through life. Overwhelming thoughts of hopelessness and disbelief may make it hard to get a full grasp of reality. An unhealthy approach to facing grief will lead to rumination, isolation, and possibly depression.
As cliche as the saying goes, do believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t keep driving forever.
Grief is Unique
Each person experiences grief differently. It is impossible to account for the unique circumstances and relationships that accompany grief. Individual and cultural differences will also play a part in how each person will view and handle their loss.
There is no schedule or timetable for grief. The process of coming to terms with a loss may take only a few days, or it may take years. While there is are no specific stages of grief, three different periods usually occur as part of this journey:
The Mourning Period
Even when a death is expected, the fact still leaves us in utter shock and disbelief. A sudden change in your life has occurred, and feelings of numbness and helplessness wash over you. You may even feel distant and apathetic. According to psychologists, this may be a coping mechanism in response to feeling overwhelmed. Reactions of shock vary widely from introversion and isolation to sudden bursts of emotion and denial. Once there is acceptance of loss, the healing process begins.
A Roller-coaster of Emotions
Facing the intensity of our emotions is the most challenging aspect of the grief process. You feel the heaviness of losing someone you love and feel as if it may be too much for your body, heart, and mind. While people experience grief differently, feelings of anger, guilt, fear, and loneliness are normal and understandable.
It is difficult to hide behind the reality of our loss, and they usually manifest through sighing, sobbing, crying, and weeping. These are all valid and necessary ways to physically release stress and sadness. When these emotions are repressed, several complications will arise. These include difficulty concentrating, poor memory, sleeping and appetite issues, abuse of drugs or alcohol, and thoughts of suicide. Difficulty sleeping may lead to insomnia and rumination, which leads to the impossible cycle of feeling guilt, resentment, and sadness all over again.
According to psychologists and doctors, some physical symptoms caused by physiological and biochemical reactions of grieving include pain, tension, weakness in the muscles, a suffocating feeling, tightness in the throat, and absent-mindedness. When not addressed, these may lead to significant health consequences and even hospitalization and surgery.
Finding New Meaning In Life
Though the pain of losing a loved one never really goes away, we finally learn to make sense of our loss and find new meaning in life. We learn to develop positive meanings from our loss. This allows us to build on our well-being, strengthen our connection with others, and find our purpose in life once again.
Positive psychology allows individuals to reconstruct their life narratives rather than to correct and invalidate feelings of grief.
Are We There Yet?
Find a Guidebook on Yourself
This may be one of the most challenging aspects of the grief process: allowing yourself to experience all the painful emotions. Allow yourself to embrace the process you are going through until you finally come to terms with the loss.
Introspect, but do not ruminate. Learn to remember the times when you have adapted or coped well to a challenge, and try to incorporate those methods to the situation you are facing.
Don’t Check the Mileage
Remember that there is no schedule for grief. Though the emotions are overwhelming and painful, do not pressure yourself into coming to terms with your loss. Learn to be patient with yourself, and acknowledge the experience you are going through. In due time and with the right support, you’ll eventually reach your destination.
There’s a Passenger Seat for a Reason
We may not feel like being around people when we experience grief but isolating oneself would only highlight the negative emotions and thoughts running through your head. It is healthy to find support from friends, family, and grief counselors. Find your safe space and support groups. Hospice care and funeral homes may provide these services.
Check your Glove Compartment
When you’re experiencing overwhelming loss, it’s definitely challenging to become aware of what we have right in front of us. Taking some time each day to acknowledge what we have and express gratitude will help us see that there are not only losses in life.
Allow yourself to acknowledge what you have gone through and appreciate who you are. According to psychologists, individuals recognize personal growth after they survive a traumatic event. Through positive psychology and positive meaning-making, individuals who experience grief can develop a new perspective on life that will ease their pain. This will allow them to improve their overall well-being and relationships and to develop a new perspective on life.
Make a Pitstop
Be kind to yourself. Understand and acknowledge that what you went through was difficult. Do not invalidate your feelings and your experiences. Recovery will come eventually soon after.
As will all things in life, this journey will have to come to an end. Even though we have experienced loss, we have also gained many things along the way, such as compassion for oneself and a new perspective on life. The best souvenir we could possibly get from this experience is to lead a purposeful life in honor of our lost loved ones.