It is extremely hard to cope with grief, you may feel like a monster that come to you and stay with you in both the heart and mind. Bereavement, grief and loss can cause many different symptoms and they affect people in different ways. You may feel hopeless and despairing, you may remain extraordinarily angry or guilty for a very long time. You may have to deal with a lot of doubt, anxiety and fear before you can function in a normal way. You will have your own timetable and you will do it in your own way.
There are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. You may only experience some of these conditions, you may proceed one condition to another, but more likely, you will move back and forth between these conditions. Greif is not stable; it is a process. The main purpose of this will be, first, to explore the conditions of grief; second, to offer some copping strategies for dealing with bereavement and loss.
First: To explore the conditions of grief.
In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Feeling numb is common in the early days after a bereavement. Even if we know with our heads that someone has died it can be hard to believe in our hearts that someone important is not coming back. Denial helps us to cope and pace our feelings of grief.
Anger is a completely natural emotion, and very natural after someone dies. Death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when we feel someone has died before their time or when we had plans for the future together. It’s also common to feel angry towards the person who has died, or angry at ourselves for things we did or didn’t do or say to the person before their death. There are many other emotions under the anger, and you will get to them in time. Give yourself permission to be angry, as it is a response to your pain.
When we are in pain, it’s sometimes hard to accept that there’s nothing we can do to change things. Bargaining is when we start to make deals with ourselves, or perhaps (if we have faith) with God. We want to believe that if we act in particular ways, things will change. It’s also common to find ourselves going over and over things that happened in the past and asking a lot of ‘what if’ questions, wishing we could go back and act differently in the hope things could have turned out differently.
Sadness and helpless are perhaps what we think of most often when we think of grief. This pain can be very intense and come in waves over many months or years. Many bereaved people experience feelings of depression following the death of someone love. Life can feel like it no longer holds any meaning, and some people may feel empty and hopeless. This depressive stage feels it will last forever, but as grief is a process of healing, depression is one of the steps along the way.
This stage is about to accept in reality that our loved one is physically gone and acknowledge this fact is the new permanent reality. It is not to feel it’s ok as it will never be ok with what has happened. We are just learning how to live with it, live with the pain. Instead of ignoring our feelings, we listen to our needs, we change, we embrace the new reality. We might sometimes have a sense of disloyalty to someone who has passed away about carrying on with our lives, and we may feel guilty when life goes on and become more normal. But if we accept and believe that we can grow a new life which includes the loss. We may never ‘get over’ the death of someone precious, but we can learn to live again, while keeping the memories with us.
Second: some copping strategies for dealing with bereavement and loss.
1. Set up a method for communicating with the loved ones.
2. Respect the needs for ritual, for example: funeral, it not only says, ‘good-bye’, it also says, ‘I’m hurting’, ‘I’m missing’
3. Talking about the emotions, e.g. anger, allow yourself to express rage. it’s ok to go off alone and scream,as we voice it, there is a connection between our words and our feelings
4. Ask yourself where your emotional pain is coming from, talk about it with a supportive friend, relative or counsellor.
5. Understanding and dispelling your guilt, stop self-punishing. You are not powerful enough to cause someone to due in this way. People are not selected for death.
6. Reducing fear and anxiety: give yourself permission to recognize your anxiety, write what you think or visualize that makes you afraid.
7. Working toward clarification and redefinition, e.g. keeping a journal to see what they are telling themselves, and thereby clarify what is going on inside.
Remember that you are not alone in the world. We still have choice; we can learn to live with the loss.