Dealing with Grief

Empty swingIf you have recently lost a loved one you will know that working through your grief can be a painful process, but it is necessary to ensure your future emotional and physical well-being.

Experts believe that if you do not grieve at the time of death, or shortly after, the grief may become stuck inside you. This can cause emotional problems or physical illness later on.

There is no set way to grieve, and not everyone goes through the same process. Your healing process is unique to you. There are however certain symptoms that most people do experience at some stage of their grieving process. 

You may experience any or all of the following emotions when you grieve:

  • numbness, the sense that none of this is real, feeling like you are just imagining it
  • expecting your deceased loved one to come back and be able to resume life as usual
  • experiencing your loved one communicating with you after death
  • difficulty paying attention or remembering things as well as you did before your loss
  • a sense of anger, injustice, or helplessness about your situation
  • feelings of incredible emptiness, loneliness, self-accusation or despair
  • guilt – if only you had done more, been nicer, not left home, etc.

The following are typical physical symptoms of grief:

  • difficulty going to sleep, or waking in the middle of the night
  • weight loss or gain; over- or under-eating
  • low energy or fatigue
  • headaches, chest pain or racing heart
  • upset stomach or digestive problems
  • hair loss

When you understand that grieving people have similar thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, you can be assured that what you are going through is completely normal. For example, mood swings, where you feel fine one minute and then all of sudden you burst out crying, is a common response to grief.

Having said that, it is important to note that grieving is not a linear process. There will be ups and downs. It is entirely possible to have a decrease in symptoms for quite a while and then suddenly it all comes flooding back when something reminds you of your loved one, or even for no explainable reason at all.

What can I do to help with the grieving process?

  • Talk about your loved one

Talking about the person you lost eases the pain a little bit. Sharing stories and remembering can be very healing.

  • Letter writing

Often times we can feel that there are so many things that was left unsaid. In cases such as these you might find writing a letter to your loved one comforting. It gives you that space to say everything that you still wanted to, to ask your questions and to say your goodbyes.

  • Journal

Journaling gives you a space to let go of your pent-up emotions. By journaling I don’t mean “Dear diary …”, it is just a place for you to go when the emotions gets to overwhelming. Journaling helps you to make sense of what is going on.

  • Seek grief counselling

Grief counselling is a great way for you to process what you are feeling. And no, the aim is not to forget. The aim is to get you through the process to a place where you can talk about your loved one or think about them and have happy thoughts. Counselling helps you to learn how to live without that person in a good and healthy way.

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