6 Ways to Deal Better with Grief
Grief is a painful yet common experience. There can be marked differences between how intensely individuals grieve for their loved ones, and for how long. Due to the vast nature of these differences, the bereavement literature does not have a single universal definition for grief.
Everyone, at some point in their life, has faced, or will come to terms with their own mortality. When you lose someone, or when someone you love one day starts looking frail and old, you grapple with coming to terms with the end.
Unanticipated losses are often the most painful and the toughest to process, but still, there isn’t a tool for comparison between the types of grief. No grief is greater than the other.
Everyone goes through the grieving process in their own ways, and there is no universal method for healing. At times, healing can feel like a never-ending process and seems almost impossible. You might feel like this lingering feeling with remain with you forever.
Grief may be understood through Elisabeth Ross’s five stages of grief, which is listed below:
- Denial: NO! This cannot be
- Anger: Why?? this is so unfair
- Bargaining Why couldn’t it be me?
- Depression: I cannot live like this
- Acceptance: This has happened, I have made my peace with it
It is important to know that depression in this model does not reflect the clinical disorder. Though some people may experience it, not everyone will have symptoms that warrant a diagnosis.
In the stages of grief, depression refers to a cluster of negative emotions, such as sadness, guilt, and apathy. Though these stages are important markers of overcoming grief, overcoming it is not a linear process. You may experience all or none of these stages.
How do people experience grief?
Everyone assumes that a person who grieves will have sleepless nights, will cry all day, and mourn. However, each individual grieves differently.
Some people, after a day or two, are already back at work, smiling, and not showing extreme negative emotions. One must understand that even if there are no obvious expressions of grief, it is not right to assume that grief is absent.
We all have different reactions to grief. Some of these are :
Physical reactions like changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and exaggeration of already-present physical ailments.
Behavioral reactions that may cause you to act out aggressively, withdraw, or engage in self-destructive behavior.
Cognitive reactions such as a reduced attention span or hyperfixation. One may start questioning their self identity and self esteem.
Emotional reactions like self-blame and guilt, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. However, some individuals may completely skip the grieving process and show no emotional reaction.
Spiritual/philosophical reactions like not believing in God anymore. Grieving individuals may often find their their belief systems have changed, even if they did not want it to happen. Such individuals might stop their acts of worship, accuse God of not intervening, or may even lose faith.
6 Ways Of Moving Forward With Your Life
Grief is not just coping with loss, but also coping with change. Grief is a process and not a task, so there are no quick fixes to move on. However, this list will help you find peace and push forward with your life, all the while dealing with the loss and coming to terms with your mortality.
1) There is no quick fix
A lot of people around you will except you to 'move on' after a set amount of time, but dealing with grief is not a simple scientific problem with readymade solutions. Grief is an incredibly complex emotional journey, and how you deal with it is determined by your gender, age, and culture, among others.
For example, research shows that men may resort to substance use as a way of coping with loss, because in many cultures, expressions of grief are governed and restrained by the dominant ideals of masculinity.
Successfully accepting your loss can be like a battlefield in your mind. Part of you would want to just reject reality and block out all your emotions. However, it is important not to become numb, but rather own the emotions and let them flow.
The people around you can either help or hinder the healing process. Some may want to try and fix your grief and expect you to get over it, whereas others will give you support and time, and just listen. Sometimes there can be no words to reassure you, and the best companions understand this.
4) Using a creative medium
In her book, 'It's Okay Not to Be Okay', psychotherapist Meghan Devine recommends taking your pent-up emotions and pouring them into a painting, graphic novel, or any other art form.
Any form of artistic expression will get things off your chest, as it is a form of emotional release. If art isn't your thing, you can start journaling to understand your thoughts and emotions.
5) Creating our own rituals
Rituals are a great way of remembering your loved ones, especially if your method of grieving involves keeping them as part of you.
Your ritual could be really simple, like watching a movie with their favorite actor or going to a restaurant the two of you frequented. There can be nothing better than reliving fond memories to keep someone in your heart forever.
Grief is natural and dealing with loss in a healthy manner is essentially for your well-being. This article is not a step-by-step guide to dealing with grief, but rather an addition to your own process.
Reach out to mental health professionals, family, and friends in times of despair. There is a chance that you grieve more than once and regress to your negative feelings, but remember that this is completely okay. Grief is not a linear process. Help is always available, all you have to do is ask for it.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology and specializes in clinical psychology.