It does not matter whether you suffer the loss of a loved one unexpectedly or from a prolonged illness, the mourning and grieving process is something impossible to prepare for.
There is no magic formula for dealing with grief. Everyone is different. We all grieve in different ways. We all experience loss in diverse ways as well. Because everyone responds differently to tragedy, no one can tell you how to deal with the passing of a loved one, there is no right or wrong approach.
Below, we will offer some advice on dealing with the loss of a loved one.
We all expect that we will grieve immediately after, or within a brief period following the loss of a loved one, but some people do not grieve for a while, there are some people whose biggest period of grief comes later in life. This is known as one type of complicated grief. From physical symptoms to mental disorders, complicated grief can manifest in many ways, which is why emotional support while experiencing a period of complicated grief is necessary.
Grief is a unique experience; even when shared
Complicated grief is just one way that some individuals may grieve differently than those around them expect. As discussed earlier, there is no right or wrong way to grieve for someone you have lost. Feelings of grief are intense, and they are always unique to the person feeling them. Therefore, it is important to remember these things:
- There is no right or wrong way to feel.
- There is no timeline.
- There is no magic formula for dealing with grief.
People experiencing grief may behave differently than expected, and often this can be unsettling. But it is important to remember that they are on a different journey. They may have the same relation to the person as you did, but that does not mean that they are going to grieve in the same way.
Additionally, when we see someone else experiencing grief, we only see what they are willing to show us, it is impossible to know how others grieve when they are not in our presence, or to understand the depths of their feelings if they choose not to display their anguish in front of others.
Therefore, it is extremely important to focus on your own journey and tune into your feelings rather than centering your attention on how someone else is managing a loss, even when you have suffered a loss that you feel is the same as theirs.
Do not take people’s words to heart
Sometimes people say things that seem insensitive. So, it is helpful to be patient when other people give what you might feel is insensitive advice about how you “should” be managing the grief experience. Remember that their intentions are good, and they are trying to help you to get through a challenging and heartbreaking moment in your life. If you do not agree with what they are saying or their advice does not resonate with you, there is nothing wrong with that.
It does not mean that there is anything wrong with you or that you are managing the grief process incorrectly. It simply means that they do not understand that the way people deal with grief is not necessarily universal, and they also do not understand your unique approach to grief.
Be mindful of any signs of mental illness or distress
Aside from recognizing that the journey of grief is a unique one, it is also important to make sure to prioritize self-care during periods of grief. Self-care requires taking care of both the body and the mind. In periods of grief, taking care of the body is extremely helpful to taking care of the mind.
Because a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand, we recommend following a healthy and balanced diet and exercising regularly. Not treating the body well is only going to make the mind feel worse and this, in turn, will make it even more difficult to deal with the grieving process.
Exercising can offer huge benefits
While exercising may feel like the last thing that you care about and the last thing that you want to do while dealing with the loss of a loved one, it can help to really try and force yourself to go for a walk, to take a run, or to jump on the exercise bike. You will feel better for doing so. Exercise can also help if you have trouble sleeping.
When to consider a bereavement support group or look for a local mental health professional
Remember that everyone deals with grief differently, there are people who feel like their grief is going to last forever. Then there are others who feel like they want to grieve forever, because they do not feel like it is right for them to move on with their lives when a person that they love and will miss is no longer on the planet with them. These feelings are understandable, but it is important to remember there is support available and that it can be helpful to take advantage of it during periods of grief, or loss.
Seek professional help
If you do not want to speak to friends or family about the loss of a loved one, then it might be helpful for you to seek someone trained in bereavement counseling to help you. There are some who feel professional help is best because it engages someone who is trained, and who has an objective point of view because they did not know the person who passed away.
Simply talking with someone else and getting these feelings off your chest can be beneficial and, of course, a bereavement counselor can give you some excellent strategies that can help you to cope with the loss that you experienced.
Final words on dealing with the loss of a loved one
In conclusion, here a few key points to remember:
- Everyone’s grief journey is different. Do not worry if you are not grieving in an expected way.
- Sometimes words spoken by those who are trying to help have the potential to hurt you further. Try not to take what you perceive as insensitive advice to heart, remember that the person giving the advice is trying to help in the best way they know how.
- Engage in self-care for both your body and mind.
- Know when to look for a support group, or a mental health professional.
Are you experiencing grief?
In twice monthly meetings taking place on Tuesday evenings 6:30-8:15 PM, learn About GriefWorks Services at ChristianWorks for Children
In an on-going group format year-round where children and their families can enter or graduate the program as their needs dictate. Families are asked to commit to the program for at least 6 months to a year of attendance.
In separate, specific age groups: Littles (ages 5-8), Middles (ages 9-12), Teens (ages 13-18) and Adults (ages 18 and older). Activities in each are age-appropriate activities which include play, games, drama, art, writing, and other creative exercises which allow the child to express themselves honestly and relate to other grieving children.
In a curriculum professionally written and supervised, each week the grief support groups focus on a different topic relating to grief such as: Hope for the Future, What is Grief?, Anger, Finding Comfort, Helping Others, Helping Ourselves, Remembering and Honoring, Depression, Grief & the Holidays and much more…