In the broad spectrum of emotions that we are capable of perceiving, grief is perhaps one of the most intense feelings that detach us from reality. People usually do not open up about their grief as it is a highly intimate part of their being. However, especially in today’s time, it has become crucial to openly have a discussion and explore this subject much more incisively.
The most significant loss a person can ever experience is the loss of a loved one. If this feeling of loss and intense grief is not handled correctly, it can ruin a person’s life completely. It is essential to understand that the person going through this feeling is so isolated from reality that he accepts this feeling as another form of normalcy.
Hence, we must have a broader understanding of this feeling. To do this, let us start by looking at five stages of grief:
Stage #1- Denial
The initial reaction to knowing about the loss, terminal illness of a loved one is that of complete denial. People usually console themselves by saying things like “this cannot be happening.” This is nothing but a natural reaction preventing us from rationalizing our emotions. It is a form of defense mechanism, helping us to avoid facing our raw emotions.
Stage #2- Anger
As the initial spell of denial begins to wear down, reality and pain emerge, leading to the rise of raw emotions that comes from our vulnerability, which is often expressed in the form of anger. Anger is the outcome of our sheer inability to look at the situation rationally. We continuously seek reasons to channel our anger, which often leads to the grieving person hurting himself/herself or others.
Stage #3- Bargaining
Following a prolonged spell of anger is the stage of silent repent. We begin to make ourselves believe that we have missed the train now. This is nothing but a form of weak self-defense, keeping us from facing reality. Quite often, guilt is accompanied by regret. We always blame ourselves for the loss of our loved ones, thinking we could have helped or saved that person.
Stage #4- Depression
Usually, mourning has two forms of depression associated with it. The first form arises from a reaction to the real-world repercussions of the loss, such as the costs and burial. Sadness and repent are two intense feelings that govern at this stage. We spend our time worrying that we have been self-involved with our grief.
The second form of depression is much more private and quieter. This is the stage where the first attempts to separate from the loved ones are made.
Stage #5- Acceptance
Very few are lucky enough to reach this stage. The feelings of withdrawal and calm dominate our emotions in this stage. In this stage, the grieving person faces the grave reality for the first time and finds the strength to look beyond and find peace with himself.
Now that we have looked at five stages of grief, let us now look at ten ways in which you can cope with your sorrow:
- Express your feelings: The benefits of just talking about what we feel with someone who understands are honestly quite understated. Neuroscientists from UCLA state that talking about our emotions have a considerable effect on our brain, which helps us reduce the intensity of our feelings. This does not necessarily mean talking to family members, friends, or your doctor. You can even maintain a journal or a diary.
- Take care of yourself: This is the time where it counts. Lack of sleep and appetite loss is two effects of grief. As it can directly impact your health, it is essential to handle yourself here. So, make sure you maintain a healthy routine and sleep on time. During these times, indulging in a hobby can prove to be a healthy distraction.
- Join a grief support group: A grief support group is a place where your feelings will be heard, and you will find you are not alone. These groups don’t force you to share your intimate opinions. These groups prove to be highly beneficial and often help people to get comfortable with themselves.
- Enroll in volunteer work: Getting involved in volunteer work only has excellent benefits. It proves to be a healthy distraction from your emotions. However, at the same time, you feel good doing good for others. This will be a massive boost to your self-confidence.
- Indulge in new activities: This is the time when you pick up new things. You can probably start with learning a musical instrument you always wanted to learn. Some people indulge in workouts, swimming, and yoga. These activities have an unbelievable effect on your mental health and give your life a sense of direction.
- Pick up what you lost before: An intense feeling of grief often leaves you without any enthusiasm. At times like these, you must go back to following the hobbies that interested you before the loss. This again will give you a good distraction, but at the same time, it will re-instill the lost enthusiasm, which will help you get over the grief.
- Maintain a strong routine: Nothing will help you as much as maintaining a healthy habit. It will help you get a good hold on your life and fill you with confidence. You can start up with small things such as sleeping on time and follow a short timetable. It will help you focus on your life much better.
- Strict no to alcohol and drugs: It is nothing but tempting to go for things that will mask your reality even if only temporarily. However, if it turns into a habit, it can take complete control over your life and destroy it. At times like this, it is essential to turn towards family members or close friends and talk to them about it.
- Indulge in socializing: Grieving can completely isolate you, leaving you much more rooted in the murkier water. At times like these, you must get out and meet your friends, go on short excursions, treks, and camps.
- Have a symbol of remembrance: This is the most important thing to do. It signals the acceptance of your emotions. Not a lot of people can do this, and it only shows unresolved emotional turmoil. It is essential to have a photograph or anything that resonates with the person’s memory.