How do you cope with losing a loved one and the accompanying grief? Most people do not give grief much thought until they experience a significant loss in their life. And unfortunately, grief hits hard. Some may argue that there is no measurement to gauge suffering.
Each human dealing with loss processes their grief separately and, often, privately. Moreover, each person experiences their recovery journey from grief differently. Nevertheless, self-care throughout the journey is pivotal to their well-being.
Your Feelings Are Valid
First, when you lose someone you love, you will feel the feelings. It is not easy, and there’s no way around grieving. The emotions will not only include anger, depression, and confusion but may also encompass feelings of despair, emptiness, and relief. Remember that everything you are feeling is normal and valid. Feel them and get through them.
The feelings come at you from the beginning, and some resurface throughout the grieving process. Researchers have identified five stages of grief that are common to experience during this process. Understanding these stages can help you and others know what to expect when loss inevitably occurs.
The 5 Stages of Grief
#1 Denial: In this stage, you might pretend nothing has happened, and you may not want to discuss it with anyone, at least not yet. Inside, you may be in turmoil, trying to understand what has happened and absorb the inevitability of your loss. Your feelings will be in overdrive at this point.
#2 Anger: Here, you are attempting to adjust to the reality of the situation while likely experiencing a myriad of extreme emotions. It is how you might deal with those emotions; of course, it is distressful and painful.
#3 Bargaining: At this point, you might develop a false sense of control when you are not in control. When grieving, you may tend to have regrets, blame yourself even if not warranted, and wonder if you should have done something different.
#4 Depression: This stage usually lasts longer than the other stages, as the sense of loss becomes more painful and transparent. It is normal to feel yourself retreating instead of reaching out. You may isolate yourself and live in a depressive state for an extended time.
#5 Acceptance: At this last stage, you probably continue to feel the pain of loss but are no longer denying the reality of it. Additionally, you may begin to evaluate your life and accept how the loss has changed your life.
The Value of Self-Care During the Grieving Process
As you grieve, you may inadvertently neglect some essential self-care. Feelings of sadness, regret, self-doubt, and loneliness can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, and several medically-related problems. The depression stage can last long; consequently, ignoring your health, hygiene, or social needs could be detrimental to your well-being.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Maintaining a well-balanced diet and plenty of sleep will energize your body and positively affect your mood. Try to include some exercise each day and stay hydrated. Procrastination and failure to complete obligations are some symptoms associated with grief and depression, so strive to keep the scheduled doctor and dental appointments.
When you lose a loved one, your grief can trigger physical reactions and possibly evoke an impaired immune system, leading to illness. Additionally, you could develop loss of appetite, weight issues, or dependence on alcohol or drugs.
Ending up in the hospital due to self-neglect from grief is not out of the realm of possibility. Consequently, taking care of yourself in the face of loss and grief is extremely important. You have humans and pets who love you and want you around for a long time.
Grief Takes Time
Some who have lost loved ones would advise that grief, in some form, is with us for a very long time. Truth be told, it is how we keep our loved ones in our hearts and memories. Time does heal, but it is not a magic potion. The length of time a person takes to heal is commensurate with their level of effort and resolve to use the opportunity of time to change and shape new lives for themselves.
Using time wisely to learn and grow instead of hiding from the world can be a wise investment in a different life and a new normal. During this time, avoid trying to measure up to how someone else grieves. Everybody has a different way of working through grief; it is important to remember to heal at your own pace.
Knowledge and Awareness
Being knowledgeable and aware may not be things you associate with the grief process, but the more you know, the fewer hurried decisions you have to face during critical situations.
Seek a Professional
Remember to consult a professional if you cannot manage certain emotions. A professional can provide the right guidance to help you work through this challenging time. A professional can also help with the diagnosis of any underlying mental health issues or substance use issues that may be co-occurring. Understand that treatment is available to make the grieving process easier. Therapy and social support are both essential for healing from loss.
Your mental health and recovery of you and your loved ones are of utmost importance. The challenges associated with grief and loss can seem impossible. If you or a loved one have become overwhelmed with mental distress due to despair, or if you are experiencing substance abuse or relapse, please know that there is help for you. At SoCal Mental Health, we provide a supportive treatment environment to meet your needs and enhance well-being and growth. Find clarity and peace in knowing you can have the life you want, free from substance abuse. Don’t wait until your symptoms develop further. Please call us at (949) 502-2041 and speak with a compassionate representative.