23 / 07 / 21

How to deal with grief – Advice from Prosperous Life

Grieving the death of a loved one is painful, challenging and can take a long time.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and nobody can tell you how long the process will take. However, there are certain things to be aware of that can help to prepare you for these difficult times.

In this article, we will discuss the stages and symptoms of grief, and share some useful and practical tips to help you cope with your loss.

The 5 stages of grief

Everyone experiences grief differently, and whilst you cannot control the process or direction in which your grief may take you, there are certain feelings which you may experience along the way.

Learning about the five stages of grief may be helpful in understanding why you’re feeling a certain way. Not everyone will experience each stage, and they may come and go in no particular order.

  • Denial – This typically occurs soon after the loss, in which you may be in disbelief, shocked or numb to the fact that it’s happened. This is a defense mechanism which tries to protect you from emotional pain.
  • Anger – It’s very common to feel angry about the situation whilst trying to process what has happened. It’s natural to feel helpless, frustrated and sometimes angry towards the person who has died.
  • Bargaining – This stage often involves desperate pleas to a higher power as an attempt to undo what has happened/is happening, such as “I’ll be a better person if you stop this from happening.” This stage can also include regret and “what if” questions as you wonder if you had done things differently, you may have prevented yourself from being in this position.
  • Depression – As you begin to process the reality of your grief, sadness sets in and you begin to feel the emotional pain of your loss more than ever before. This is a very natural stage of grief, and one that can be extremely isolating – but you will get through it.
  • Acceptance – This is the start of the healing process, when you have started to accept the reality of your situation. You may still feel sadness and regret, but you will have likely overcome any feelings of anger or denial.

It’s important to note that you do not need to go through all five stages of grief in order to heal, and there is no right or wrong way you should be feeling at any given time. We are all unique!

how to cope with grief

Symptoms of grief

During the grieving process, it’s natural to experience a mixture of emotions.

It’s important to remember that whatever you’re feeling is valid. You may go back and forth between emotions, and there may be some feelings which you don’t experience – the way you grieve is entirely individual to you.

Some of the most common emotional symptoms of grief include:

  • Shock
  • Disbelief
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Fear

Grief is not always an entirely emotional process and can sometimes take its toll on our physical well being, too. If you’re experiencing any of the following physical symptoms of grief, just know that you’re not alone.

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Muscle aches and pains

How long does grief last?

Grief doesn’t have a timeframe, and nobody can tell you how long your pain will last. It’s important not to compare your experience with that of someone else’s, as it’s entirely individual to you.

For many people, grief is a long process and can take years. However, your feelings are likely to lessen over this time and you will be in a position where you know how to cope with your loss.

There may be situations or events in the future that can trigger your emotions and cause grief all over again. This is completely normal, and you should allow yourself the time to cope with your feelings. Grief isn’t something that can, or should, be ‘fixed’.

comforting someone going through bereavement

How to deal with grief

Everyone has different coping mechanisms when it comes to grief, and it’s important to do what feels right for you.

However, if you have recently lost a loved one or find yourself experiencing long-term grief, here are some tips for coping with loss:

Let yourself grieve

The hurt and pain of losing a loved one isn’t something that anyone wishes to experience, but grieving is natural and healthy.

Accepting your feelings and allowing yourself to grieve is the best thing that you can do for your mental and physical health at this time. Don’t feel guilty for taking some time out from your day to day life in order to experience your feelings and come to terms with your loss.

Allow your emotions to play out and let yourself express them – whether that’s screaming, crying or processing your feelings quietly. Suppressing your emotions will only delay the healing process and cause more hurt down the line.

Be patient

Grieving takes time, and it’s not a process which you can expect to be completely healed from in a few weeks from now.

You may experience some setbacks, and wonder why you’re still hurting the same way you were when it first happened – but that’s okay. Recognise that grief comes in stages, and there is no set timeline for going through one stage and moving on to the next.

Be kind to yourself and don’t be critical of how you’re coping and how long it’s taking. You’re doing what’s right for you.

Talk about your feelings

Following the loss of a loved one, opening up about how you’re feeling can be challenging. However, talking openly and honestly with someone you trust gives you a release and can help you to process the situation and explore your emotions.

Your friends and family will want to be there to support you, but it can be difficult for them to know how. Let them know what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or simply an ear to listen.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with being strong-minded and self-sufficient, it’s times like these where you need the support that is offered. Don’t be afraid to rely on your loved ones to take care of you.

grief support

Maintain a routine

When you feel ready, try to get some routine back in your day to day life. Keeping some structure in the way of work, exercise, activities, housework or anything else that you would usually fill your time up with can help to maintain a sense of normality.

Whilst it’s important not to use these things as a way of distracting yourself from the pain, having a structure to your days can bring about a sense of accomplishment and purpose, offer security and reduce stress.

Take care of yourself

The grieving process is both physically and emotionally draining, so prioritising your health and wellbeing is crucial during this time.

Ensure that you’re taking some time for yourself each day and focus on exercising, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. These three simple things can help to give you some much-needed energy and clarity to get you through an incredibly tough time in your life.

Keep up your hobbies

We get great happiness from doing things that we love, so don’t put your hobbies to one side and get back to your favourite activities as soon as you feel ready to.

Some people find that it helps to take up a new hobby, join a new group and surround themselves with new people to lift up their spirits.

Join a support group

It can help to talk to other people who are experiencing a similar situation. Support groups can be a great tool for connecting with others in a similar situation and can offer guidance and comfort from those who are familiar with what you’re going through.

Find a local bereavement support group through the NHS.

Seek professional help

The tips above may not always provide the support or relief that you need. If you’re experiencing very intense or long-term grief, you may want to seek out the help of a professional.

If any of the following symptoms sound familiar to your situation, you may need additional help with coping:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Eating difficulties
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to go to work
  • Inability to care for yourself
  • Inability to do daily activities

Grief therapy can help you to understand more about the grieving process and explore the reasons why you may be struggling. Sessions are usually offered on a one-to-one basis or a group setting if you prefer.

Find a therapist through the NHS.

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