Grief and loss can affect people in many different ways, some which may be unexpected.
We all know that death is a necessary part of life, but when you’re coping with the loss of a loved one, the pain can seem too much to bear. Common feelings at this time include sadness, loneliness, depression, isolation, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, and insomnia.
The intensity of your grief may be linked to a number of factors:
- Your relationship to the person who died.
- Whether the death was expected or sudden.
- Your life experience and coping strategies.
- Your beliefs and outlook on life and death.
- How much support you have around you.
If you are dealing with intense grief and loss, here are some tips to help you overcome these feelings in a healthy, non-destructive manner.
Mourning a Loved One
It’s not easy to cope when a loved one has passed away. Grief and mourning are natural processes that you go through in dealing with the loss. They are personal and may last for several months, sometimes even years.
Grief can be expressed both physically (crying), psychologically (depression) and emotionally (loneliness). You should not try to suppress these feelings, even though you may think it is easier to block out the pain, you cannot avoid these feelings indefinitely.
Many people experience physical symptoms that accompany the pain of grieving, such as nausea, stomach pain, headaches, upset digestive system, and insomnia.
These are all common symptoms and are often accompanied by a general loss of energy. If you have an existing illness, grief may cause it to worsen. You may also experience strong emotional reactions such as anxiety attacks, depression, and thoughts of suicide.
For some people, coping with grief and loss can be difficult and it is tempting to use drugs or alcohol to lessen the pain. This is not a healthy solution and too often leads to addiction.
Coping with Major Loss
Dealing with death is essential for your well-being and your mental health. Remember, it is natural to feel deep sadness when a loved one dies. It is best to allow yourself to grieve. There are a number of different ways you can cope effectively with your pain.
Express yourself: Don’t bottle up your feelings. Explain how you feel to others, it will help you feel better and it will help them understand what you’re going through.
Seek support: Spend time with friends and relatives who are caring and supportive. If you don’t live close to your family, join a support group. You will find that spending time with others who have experienced a similar loss will prevent you from feeling so isolated.
Take care of yourself: Eat regular meals, exercise as often as you can and try to get plenty of rest. See your physician for regular health checks. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on medication or alcohol to alleviate your pain.
Carry on with your life: Although it’s difficult at first, you have to accept the fact that you must carry on living your life. Try to move forward and not dwell on the past.
Keep things simple: Don’t make and major life decisions or serious changes while you are grieving. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to your loss.
Be patient with yourself: It can take months, sometimes even years to come to terms with intense grief and loss. Give yourself plenty of time to grieve.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help: If your grief is becoming overwhelming, don’t try to ride it out alone. Seek professional help from a grief counselor. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
When Grief Becomes Depression
Sometimes, when grief does not diminish over time, it may be a sign that you have developed a depressive disorder. The following risk factors increase the likelihood of this happening:
- A history of anxiety or depression
- Little or no previous experience with grief and loss
- No friends or family for support
- Prior issue with addiction
If you have been experiencing severe symptoms of grief for four months or more with no sign of improvement, it may be time to speak to your family doctor. Particularly if you are also having difficulty functioning at home or at work, have a hard time getting out of bed or feeling motivated, feelings of worthlessness, or thoughts of suicide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Samantha Baker works as a therapist and shares some of her insights with a wide online audience. Her articles discuss all sorts of topics from grief and depression to addiction.