How to deal with Grief and Loss

Grief and loss are an inevitable part of life and something all of us will inevitably experience at some point in time.
Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them. Everyone grieves in different ways and most of the time, the way we grieve will be very much dependent on things such as upbringing, beliefs, age, religious background, relationships and physical and mental health.

There are many different types of grief, but we will explore 5 of them below:
• Abbreviated Grief: this occurs when the grief is minor and there is no strong attachment to the grief such as moving from a small apartment to a big house. You might miss your neighbours but you are excited for the new neighbours you will meet in your new street. This can also occur when the move happens quickly so there is no time to think about being sad.
• Anticipated Grief: this situation occurs when you know a move is coming and you start to become anxious about the goodbyes. This often happens to teens who are moving interstate or changing schools. Stress can creep in as its getting closer to the deadline and often, some may try to shut off their emotions to deal with the stress of it.
• Ambiguous Grief: This happens when it’s hard to pin down exactly what is bothering us. In this case, it’s hard to define or pin down why we feel grief. This could happen in times where your favourite store has closed or a park you used to play in as a child is being demolished. Ambiguity makes it hard to fully grieve the loss as it’s something so insignificant. But the loss is real and if we don’t face it and work through it, the effects can get worse.
• Delayed Grief: This often happens when delaying the grief of a sad situation is the best option in cases where a loved one has died, but it’s exam time so facing the grief and mourning would be worse right now so we delay it for next week. When loss is delayed, it can hit us like a tonne of bricks all at once at a later stage or when something so small and insignificant happens, making us want to cry at the most inappropriate times.
• Exaggerated Grief: This occurs when there is a snowballing effect of losses, or losses that happen all at once, such as your dog died, you lost your job and you get sick all in a short time. Then there comes a time when you feel the overwhelming feeling of everything crashing down on you, you may even feel depressed, or having a hard time to focus on anything or stay positive. At this stage, life can seem very unfair.

There are many emotions and feelings that we experience when we mourn or grieve. There are also 5 stages that are a natural part of the grieving process as discussed below:

  1. Denial and isolation: The normal reaction is the “this isn’t really happening to me” thought. It is a very normal reaction in trying to rationalise overwhelming feelings. The denial is a defence mechanism that tries to block us from feeling intense pain. It is a temporary response that assists in carrying us through the first wave of discomfort.
  2. Anger: Eventually denial and isolation start to wear off and the reality of the painful situation starts to re appear. Because we are still not ready to deal with the pain, we redirect it and express it as anger. We express the anger out to whoever is near us. It is a time where we feel guilty for being angry which makes us feel angrier. This can be hard for our loved ones around us, as they feel the anger is directed to them and can feel helpless.
  3. Bargaining: We next start to feel helpless and vulnerable. At this stage, it is normal to want to regain control so we start to think how we could’ve done things different. We ask ourselves questions such as “should I have done something different?” “Did I do everything that I possibly could’ve?” etc. Some people try to make a deal with God or a higher power to try to change the circumstances in order to protect us from the painful reality.
  4. Depression: Sadness, regret, worry, a feeling of emptiness. This stage feels like it will last forever. This is not a sign of mental illness but an appropriate response to a loss. Depression is a necessary step to get through the grieving process.
  5. Acceptance: This does not mean that we must be ok with the loss, it just means that we are accepting the reality of our situation. We must try to live with the new reality and live in a world where things are different. It is about surrendering to the reality of the situation and accepting that this is our life now.

 

We are all unique and therefore process things differently.  We can pass these 5 stages in the order as stated above, or in a different order.  The time span for each grieving stage will be different for each individual. Grief and mourning is a very unique experience for each individual and no two people are the same.  Some of us are verbal processors where we need to talk it through until the subject is dealt with in our minds. Others like to write their thoughts and emotions down in journals whilst others like to express their emotions through art or any other type of creative form such as music, sculpting, writing a book etc.

Processing grief should not be done in isolation. There is nothing shameful about sharing our hurt or mourning with loved ones. We need each other’s love, affection and care to help us heal and it’s an important step for moving forward.

If you feel that you cannot shift the grief and loss you are experiencing, you may need the guidance of a professional counsellor or psychologist. Please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team at Pure Insights. We can be contacted on info@pureinsights.com.au or 1300 796 640.

 

 

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