“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear” – C.S. Lewis
One of the hardest things we can go through is the loss of a loved one. We can experience this through either a sudden/unexpected death or by a relationship breakup. Each person will experience bereavement at some stage in our lives. There is no right way to grieve or face bereavement. We all cope with grief in a different way. It is generally agreed that there are 5 stages to grief:
There is no order or set time frame for these stages. People call experiencing excessive grief for a long time ‘Complicated Grief’.
Helping yourself when you are facing bereavement:
There are a number of things that will happen to you as you grieve. Here are some steps to ensure that you don’t give yourself such a hard time when you grieve.
- Be gentle on yourself. You may experience low levels of energy. Ensure to be mindful of yourself to not place too many demands in yourself in this time.
- Make sure you get enough sleep and rest.
- Look after your physical health. You may find that you have lost your appetite. Make sure you continue eating healthily and exercising though. A small walk each day can also help. It is important to not let your physical health decline.
- Talk to family or friends. Try to find one or two friends with whom you can talk about your feelings with. Talking is important because it allows you to express your feelings.
- Allow yourself to experience the feelings that come with grief. Even if they are difficult. It can be very helpful to talk to someone you trust. Often times, family and friends are grieving too, so try talking to someone outside of that circle.
- Take your time and don’t rush things. Allow yourself to take things a bit easier. Put off making any major decisions.
Facing Loss and Bereavement
People will often experience anticipatory grief. This is grief that happens before a death. People experience this when a loved one has been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. For people facing anticipatory grief, then this time can allow you to adjust to the loss. Anticipatory grief feels mostly the same as after a death. However, it can be different in ways. It can be accompanied by guilt and a feeling of loss of control.
Experiencing anticipatory grief does not take the place of the grieving that will happen after a death or loss.
General symptoms of anticipatory grief:
- Anxiety or depression
- Irritability or anger
- Increased sense of worry or concern for people
- Visualizing the impending death
Coping with anticipatory grief:
- Allow yourself to experience the grief.
- Spend time with the loved one who is dying.
- Talk to those you trust about what you are feeling.
- Try visiting a support group or counselor.
- Inform yourself on what to expect.
Visiting a counselor can greatly help you with working through your grief or bereavement.