When individuals experience a profound loss, whether through death, divorce or other event, they may fall into a period of intense emotions and unstructured thinking patterns that may be disturbing. Adjusting to the practical changes from a loss is only one area of human experience. Other changes involve one’s identity, status and emotional well being. These issues can make the grieving process difficult to navigate. Some facts and advice about grief can help you to get through this period more easily.
Understand That Grieving Is More Than Sadness
A major loss can feel like being hit by a truck emotionally. Immediately after the loss, the person may experience a feeling of numbness or shock. There may be a feeling of unreality as you go attempt to go through your normal daily activities. You may feel anger, guilt, profound loneliness, confusion, a feeling of isolation or fear of being alone. You may have recurring thoughts of the death or things that might have been done differently to prevent it. You may dream about the death or about the deceased talking to you or engaging in everyday activities with you as they once did. There may be profound feelings of regret about things not done with the deceased or about the minor arguments that occurred. Some people become aggressive or belligerent with family or friends as a reaction. Concentration at work may be affected. The overall feeling of mental confusion or lack of focus may be overwhelming. You may not feel like eating, sleeping or socializing. Grief can affect almost every area of a person’s life, and each person experiences grief in his or her own way.
Acknowledge the Feelings
People going through grief often make the mistake of trying to “tough it out,” denying the mental and emotional effects that make life so difficult after a loss. However, this attitude can cause their difficulties to deepen. The troubling emotions may cause people to abuse substances, withdraw from family and friends or fall more deeply into a deep depression. The healthier reaction is to acknowledge that losing an important figure in your life is a serious blow, and it is natural to have any number of strong reactions to such an event. Take note of your eating, drinking and sleeping patterns to determine if there are problems. See your doctor and discuss any physical reactions you are having. Allow yourself to cry over your loss. Take the time to be fully present for your emotions and work through them over a period of time. Be honest with your own emotions, and you will be better able to move past the difficult period of mourning and move onto to healthy adjustment.
Ask For Support From Loved Ones
Although it may feel awkward to reach out when others appear to be going on with their lives, talk to your family and friends about your feelings. They will be able to support you with their presence during this difficult time, or will at least be there to listen while you work out issues on your own. Don’t worry that you’re wearing out their patience with your constant lingering on your past times with the deceased. Most people have experienced losses of their own and will understand the process of grieving. Similarly, if some loved ones persistently encourage you to move on, don’t feel pressured to hurry the grieving process. Individuals in grief must work out their feelings in their own way and in their own time.
Get Help When Needed
If feelings of loneliness or lack of motivation continue, reach out for mental health counseling. Your physician can provide references to professionals that specialize in grief counseling. A few sessions can help you to work through the feelings of guilt and loss. If a more serious depression in involved, the counselor can refer you to someone who can prescribe medication to help relieve these feelings.
For some people, the grieving process can be completed in a few months. Others need years to deal with the profound emotions that a personal loss unleashes. Counseling and grief support groups can help to make this process easier.