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posted: Dec. 31, 1969.
Grief is the last act of love we can give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.
What is Grief?
Today, many people around the world are experiencing grief during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic had led to a series of losses, from our sense of safety to our social connections and financial security.
Grief is a normal and universal response to loss. It is the emotional suffering we experience when something important or someone we love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel very intense and overwhelming. We may experience all kinds of negative and unexpected emotions such as shock, anger, disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness.
The grief associated with the loss of a loved one is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences. Although the death of a loved one can be the main cause of the most intense type, grief can occur in response to many different loses in life including: divorce or relationship breakup, loss of health, losing a job, retirement, a miscarriage, death of a pet, a loved one’s serious illness, loss of a friendship, loss of financial stability, and loss of safety after a trauma.
The waves of grief are unavoidable. The related emotions may come and go over months and years leaving a sense of powerlessness and helplessness. Sometimes, you may wonder if the pain will ever end or if your reaction to the loss is normal. Grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. You might often experience a variety of physical symptoms such as illness, body aches, reduced energy, fatigue, and insomnia.
The Grieving Process
Grieving is a very individualized process. In other words, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, so long as you allow it to take its course. How you grieve depends on many factors such as personality traits, coping mechanisms, how important and big that loss was, personal histories and culture, life experiences, faith, and others. The more significant and unexpected the loss, the more intense and complicated grief can be.
It is also helpful for you to know that there is no deadline or a normal timetable for grieving. Some might feel better after a few weeks, while others might need years to feel better. Healing happens gradually and the process is very personal as everyone processes and experiences the grief differently. Whatever your grief experience is, it is important that you be patient and kind to yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
How to Grieve Well:
Although experiencing loss is an inevitable part of life, there are some ways to help cope with pain in a healthy way and move on with life.
1) Acknowledge your pain. Remember that it is completely natural and healthy to grieve.
Allow yourself to grieve and fully experience all your emotions including anger, shock,
sadness, guilt, and loneliness. Do not judge yourself for feeling these emotions as these
are very common and normal reactions to the pain of loss. You might also set aside a
private time everyday or during the week to think about your loss and experience the
feelings that arise. By doing this you may protect yourself from getting overwhelmed,
especially if you are grieving a traumatic and unexpected loss. It is important to remind
yourself that avoiding and ignoring your painful emotions only makes them stronger in
the long-run and will delay your healing. The key is to learn how to deal with the triggers
and process the unstoppable waves of grieve.
2) Seek out social support from people who care about you. Talking with others about your sadness and loss may help you to process and release your feelings. Ask family
and friends to share stories and pictures with you. Some people also find it helpful to turn to their faith for further coping. Let people close to you know that you do not expect any advice or solution; request that they simply listen to you. Connecting to others is important during grief.
3) Create memories or rituals for your loved one. You could start a memory book, blog, or webpage to remember your loved one, and ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories. You may also take part in activities such as planting a tree or
preparing a favourite meal that has significance to you and the loved one who is no longer with you. Keeping a basic routine of daily activities can help you structure your time and keep you connected to familiar people and places. Some people find it helpful to avoid making major changes, such as getting a new job or moving, soon after a loss. This can help maintain a sense of normalcy and security and lessen additional stress.
4) Engaging in self-care activities. Try to support yourself emotionally, physically, and
spiritually during this time. Keep a healthy diet and regular daily exercises (even walking for 15 minutes can be beneficial). Engage in proper sleep hygiene despite the insomnia
you might experience; and refrain from unhealthy coping, such as with nicotine, caffeine or alcohol.
5) Get professional help from a counsellor. If your grief becomes very difficult to deal with or the intensity of your emotions do not change over time, seeing a professional therapist is recommended. Sometimes, unprocessed grief can cause other problems such as depression, anxiety, anger issues, relationship and attachment problems, etc.
Having experienced so many losses in my personal life, I see the grieving process as a life-long journey. I believe grieving is extremely difficult especially when you are surrounded by people who try to rush you through your grief. In my role as a therapist, I support clients to understand that the intensity and duration of their emotions are normal and appropriate; and to discover ways to prevent getting stuck in grief and deal with difficult emotions in a healthy way.
Shahrzad Jamali sees clients at our office in Surrey. Book a session with her here.