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Losing someone you love or care for deeply about is one of the most painful experiences you can suffer. Your emotions can do a rollercoaster ride and you may think the pain and loss will never go. These are normal reactions to a great loss and no two people re-act the same. There are some healthy ways to cope with the pain and over time, it can allow you to move forward.
It is a natural, normal part of our behaviour to suffer grief. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief may be. Suffering grief is often associated with the death of someone, however, it can be due to divorce or loss of a friendship even the loss of one’s career and self-worth.
Grieving is a very personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith may also influence your grieving style, and maybe the nature of the loss. This whole process takes time. Healing happens gradually in one’s own time. For some people it may be a quick recovery, for others the grieving may linger for many years. Whatever your reason for the grief, it’s important to be patient with yourself or those around you and allow the process to naturally unfold.
The process of grieving comes in stages. This is the usual or common process:
- DENIAL – we just don’t want to accept what is happening
- ANGER – why the hell is this happening to me? It must be someone’s fault
- BARGAINING – I wish this didn’t happen, but if only I did something about it
- DEPRESSION – I just can’t see my way out of it
- ACCEPTANCE – OK, I can accept what has happened and can’t change that
Most people will experience some or all of the processes, and it’s OK if you skip a few. Sometimes when there are special occasions, these emotions may return i.e. Christmas family gathering and someone is absent, wedding anniversary spent alone etc.
We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia. It is the ideal time to reach out and seek assistance to support you through this time. Just a few hours a week maybe all that is required to make the difference.
Friends and family are usually well meaning with their support but sometimes we may need to seek professional assistance of a counsellor or doctor to pull through. Our carers can also assist with the daily tasks to allow the sufferer to spend that important time in grieving without being stressed about ‘the rest of the world’ issues and always willing to lend a shoulder to lean on. There are great benefits in joining a support group. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help immensely. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry.
Those caring for someone suffering from grief should also be aware to identify the difference between grief and the onset of depression. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.
No matter how you cope with grief, remember to reach out and ask for the support during this time, if only just for a while. All things come to an end, even our darkest times. Remember, death may leave a heartache but love with leave a memory.