COPING WITH GRIEF AND LOSS – DAILY INSPIRATION
GRIEF CAN BE CONSUMING
It can wrap around you and weave its way through you until you don’t recognize yourself anymore. It can leave you feeling hollow and completely disconnected from those around you. When you experience loss, it can take some time to adjust to life without that person.
In life, people are rarely capable of giving us all that we need. As we grow up, it becomes apparent that we must give ourselves what we need to feel fulfilled. When you craft a life with someone, it can be heartbreaking when they’re no longer there. You can, however, begin to give yourself the things that the person provided.
You may move through the loss and carry the grief for years. Always remember that this is OK.
Grief is a process and not one that can rush through. Unfortunately, the only way to the other side is through it. It is not necessary to judge yourself for continuing to grieve for an extended time. Logically you may think that you should be over something or moved beyond it. However, if it still coming up, it is still unresolved, and you must acknowledge this and embrace it.
In the process of life refinement, we visit things and process them. You may have to revisit something several times to release all the different aspects of it and to find deep healing within it. This is more common than you think. From there you can begin to offer yourself all of the things that the person you lost provided you.
Try sitting down with a pen and paper and writing out some of the things you would like to begin giving yourself. Ask yourself the following questions. What did they do for me? How did they make me feel? How did they support me? What could I depend on them for? What did they always take care of that I didn’t even have to think about?
These are just some of the things that you can explore. Now once you have your list start a fresh piece of paper and begin writing down ideas on ways that you can now provide some of these things for yourself. Loss is not easy, and sometimes it’s utterly devastating. I understand that. Remember to do your best each day and be patient with yourself through the process.
GRIEF IS NOT THE SAME FOR EVERYONE
Your reaction to loss whatever that may be is normal. It may not, however, feel familiar. You may find that you feel guilty for a variety of things. Perhaps the way you lost the person was tragic, or you feel somehow that you are to blame. The death of a loved one can send any of us into a grieving process that lasts months or even years. The pain of grief can feel overwhelming, and it is crucial to prioritize your mental health during this process.
If you have family members that can help do not be afraid to lean on them for assistance during this time. You are not invisible, and prolonged grief is nothing to take lightly. You can always seek out a support group and see what additional support that brings. You might be surprised how much healing can unfold there. If you find you can not shake feeling sad, you may want to consider the seven stages of grief to better asses where you are in the process.
THE SEVEN STAGES OF GRIEF ARE
- SHOCK AND DENIAL
We all know this stage well. Your brain struggles to accept reality. The more tragic or sudden the loss, the harder it is to wrap your mind around the loss. In many ways, denial is beneficial in the short term to allow us a little time to accept the reality we will now face.
“Denial is a classic defense mechanism, whereby you deny the existence of something that is too difficult or uncomfortable to deal with. ” Wendy Wisner
- PAIN AND GUILT
Once our brains begin to accept the loss we have suffered we often experience pain and/or guilt. This is a normal grief reaction. No amount of time is too long to remain in this phase. You must process through the emotions and energy that your body is holding around this event. Consider the following information provided by https://whatsyourgrief.com
“As usual, the question becomes what do you DO about guilt? Here are some quick tips for coping with guilt:
Acknowledge that guilt is a normal grief emotion and don’t let others minimize the validity of your grief experience. Consider what your guilt is all about. Is it rational? Is it irrational? Is it about control? Talk it over with others. Though you don’t want people minimizing your feelings, talking about guilt can help you reflect on your grief. A good counselor or support group is a great environment to talk about feelings of guilt. Examine your thoughts. Often our guilt thoughts, whether rational or irrational, start to consume us. They can drag us down into one of those bottomless black holes – the kind that are full of isolation, despair, and far too much wine and ben & jerry’s ice cream. In order to adjust your thinking, you have to know what your guilt thoughts are and notice them when they arise. If your guilt feelings are irrational, admit it. This doesn’t mean dismissing your feelings of guilt. It means acknowledging that, though you feel guilty, you may not actually be guilty.”
- ANGER AND BARGAINING
This stage can be equally challenging, and life can feel so unfair, I understand that! When the anger comes, it can be fast and hot. It can hit you like a freight train and take some time to dissipate. We sometimes want to bargain with the world to get things to return to the way they were. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works.
This tweet is from psychotherapist and grief counselor Megan Devine and contained a graphic with words from her book. It’s OK That You’re Not OK. They read:
The reality of anger never gets any airtime in our culture. Anger is a response to a sense of injustice. Of course, you’re angry; whatever has happened to you is unjust. Anger, allowed expression, is simply energy. Shown respect and given room, anger tells a story of love and connection and longing for what is lost. Contrary to pop psychology and the medical model, anger is healthy, normal, and necessary.
“Your anger surrounding your loss is welcome,” Devine wrote in the tweet. “It’s healthy. It’s not something to rush through so you can be more ‘evolved’ or acceptable to the people around you.”
DEPRESSION AND REFLECTION
It can be hard for some of us to admit that depression comes over us. It can even be hard to determine if you are depressed yourself. I used never to use the word depressed. It just felt like I was sad or lonely. I did not realize until I got older and more honest with myself that I was suffering from mild depression. If you are unsure, consider taking this test: https://depression.org.nz/is-it-depression-anxiety/self-test/depression-test/
THE UPWARD TURN
Things begin to feel lighter at this stage. You are sometimes smiling and can breathe again. Perhaps even your sleep has gotten better. You are beginning to see how your life will be now even without the person you love. This is an exciting step in your process. You are not yet through, but you are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The following article says it beatifically: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/06/when-grief-fades/
“And this is what happens when grief begins to fade. The edges of the person who died slough away. The colors, sounds and smells shimmy and blur. And when the edges melt, we’re left with the essence of the person. They flow into our blood, weave their way into the strong, scarred muscles of our heart.
Or maybe they scatter like ashes, feather-light but clingy. To my son, who has my brother’s bright eyes, temper and love of music. Into my words, all these years later.” Lynn Shattuck.
RECONSTRUCTION AND WORKING THROUGH
This phase is equally exciting. This is precisely the phase you would be in to use the exercise I stated in the first portion of this article. When you are actively working through your guilt, you can find a variety of tools online that will assist you. Sitting with lists and asking questions or writing things out in a journal can all be key players in this process.
Once your brain has entirely accepted the new life you now live you are at acceptance. Do not be surprised if you slip in and out of any of the above phases. Grief is not always linear. It also doesn’t always occur in this exact order. No matter what your experience has been so far do not worry, it is normal. Always remember to do your best. Your best in one moment will be far more than others. Take your time and be kind to yourself. It will undoubtedly make the grieving process much easier for you.
At this point begin to focus on the list we started with and consider what the person you have lost did for you. What did they bring into your life and how can you add some of that back into your life?