Dealing with grief and loss

Mental Health Blog / Friday, December 21st, 2018

Grief is the emotional suffering you feel when there is a significant loss in your life.  It is one of life’s greatest challenges and it is not experienced exclusively through bereavement or a relationship breakdown.  Even milestone events can trigger grief including moving home, leaving university or changing jobs.  Grief can occur any time there is a loss, such as losing:

  • a loved one
  • a job
  • health
  • a friendship
  • your home
  • financial security
  • a pet

Grief is a personal process with no time frame or ‘right’ way to experience it.  Ultimately, grieving takes time and you can’t rush the process.  Pretending that you’re not in emotional pain doesn’t lessen the timescale of grieving.  How long the grieving process lasts depends on your own coping style, your personality, and your life experiences.

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced ‘the five stages of grief’ based on her studies of patients with terminal illness.  However, these stages apply to many other significant losses or changes in life.  The stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.  Not everybody needs to go through each stage to heal.

Dealing with grief and loss can feel overwhelming but there are ways to cope better through the grieving process.

Understanding that grief is normal.  Emotional pain, sadness, anger, guilt, fear or disbelief can be part of the process.  Physical symptoms of grief may include tears, numbness, fatigue and changes in appetite.

Be gentle with yourself.  Mourning a loss has no time frame so don’t measure yourself against other people’s expectations.  Grief is unpredictable: one day you may feel better and the next be hit with strong emotions.

Take care of yourself.  Going through the grieving process can cause insomnia, loss of appetite and apathy.  Be mindful of your daily habits and try to eat, sleep and exercise as best you can.

Look towards others for support.  Accept support from friends or family, draw comfort from your faith, join a support group or talk to a therapist.

If you are dealing with grief and loss and would like to talk in confidence to a trained therapist, please contact me to book an appointment.

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