Coping with Grief
When a loved one passes away, it can be a very traumatic experience for the survivors. Depending on the nature of the bereavement, a sudden loss is much more difficult to grapple with than a slow expected demise. Nevertheless, the time it takes to grieve depends on the individual. With the right coping techniques, a mourner may be able to gradually manage life after the loss of a loved one. The following are several coping strategies.
After the loss of a loved one, apart from being sad, a griever may experience denial at the beginning and waiver back and forth between acceptance and disbelief. Some people experience a sense of anger at a higher power for taking away the deceased unexpectedly. This feeling too is normal as such a loss may debilitate a survivor from functioning generally because he or she has been dependent on the departed their whole life. To suddenly have to live life independently without the loved one can just be too much to bear. A surviving spouse may experience utter loneliness. Young children who lose a parent may feel lost, angry and bitter.
Prolonged helplessness may lead to depression with an inability to do anything due to overwhelming sadness. When this happens, the mourner should seek professional counseling. The mourner should not be alone during this difficult time. Another emotion that is common during grieving is guilt. A mourner may reminisce about the times spent with the deceased and display remorse for any irreversible damage inflicted upon the loved one such as unkind hurtful words or destructive behavior. Outbursts of regret and weeping may follow self-condemnation.
Talking to a listening ear when experiencing any of the above emotions will help unburden the mourner and spread soothing relief to one’s overall mental health. Turn to one’s immediate family and friends for direct support. Join a support group for mourners such as GriefShare or consult one’s local community chaplain or places of worship for faith-based advice. Alternatively, seek a professional grief counselor or therapist for emotional guidance.
Physical grief can manifest itself in many forms. A mourner may start to neglect his overall health by not eating well and losing sleep. This may lead to weakened immunity, weight loss, and illness. In this situation, a mourner is likened to a sick person and should be cared for and tended by family and friends. If insomnia persists, the bereaved should seek medical help.
Older couples who are lovingly dedicated to each other in sickness and in health often become fragile and susceptible to a physical health decline after a spouse passes away from a prolonged illness. The surviving partner should not be left alone but should be attended to by any remaining older children. Tender loving care toward the parent is crucial at this time for the father or mother to recuperate and rejuvenate.
Visiting and monitoring the physical wellness of a mourner is a kindness that can be performed regularly by a community of volunteers on a rotational basis. Food shopping, preparation, and delivery as well as overseeing neglected household chores are examples of human kindness toward the bereaved person.
Transition from Grief
Validating one’s feelings, acknowledging the unchangeable and accepting the hand that is dealt are ways to forge ahead after an unspecified period of mourning. Document your personal feelings in a journal; create a scrapbook of memories about your loved one collected from family and friends; write about them and jot down memories as they occur from time to time. Create a family tree with a spot for your loved one in book form or online.
Transitioning from mourning to normalcy does not happen overnight. Start by incorporating a daily schedule of interacting with the outside world to prevent withdrawal from society and loneliness. Be occupied with hobbies and interests to stimulate the mind away from the deceased. Try not to neglect your health and include a daily regimen of exercise if possible. A visit to the gym, spa or swimming pool is timely.
Be prepared for bouts of memories of the deceased at unexpected times and create positive memory markers for them. Dedicate a good deed in their memory or support one of their beloved charities. Talk positively about the departed’s accomplishments and achievements which bring joy to others such as during family reunions and get-togethers.
Visit the grave of the departed occasionally or at least on the anniversary of their death. Treasure that moment of silence thinking only good thoughts about your loved one and say a prayer on their behalf.
Diverting attention to life outside of mourning may take time. Slowly but surely, the mourner will return to their normal routine. Continuing the legacy of the deceased with your positive actions may be the best way to honor their life here.
Guest Writer Bio
Kevin Gardner graduated with a degree in psychology from UCLA. He owns his own private counseling business where he helps others cope with the problems of their lives. As busy as he is with his career, Kevin has made his family a priority and has found creative ways to give them the time they deserve. Whenever possible, he writes about his experiences and shares them to help others.