Grief. What is it?
It’s complicated. It’s confusing. It’s HARD. It’s messy. It’s a jumble of feelings.
Typically when we think of grief, we think of losing a loved one to death. However, as grief becomes normalized, we have recognized there are other events that can create grief. Such events might be a break-up, a friendship loss, terminal illness, job loss, pet loss and/or a divorce.
Grief develops from any event that creates strong and overwhelming emotions. Having such emotions, can make it difficult for an individual to cope. Experiencing such grief may leave a person feeling robbed of their sense of “normal.”
This happens because grief is all over the place. One minute we might be angry, the next minute we might be crying, and then we might be frozen in denial. Grief has evolved, but essentially, there are five stages of grief people experience. According to Kubler Ross, grief cycles through denial/shock, anger, sadness, bargaining and acceptance. It’s thought that once we reach acceptance we will be fully healed from our loss, but we know now that is not true. Something as small as someone’s perfume, can trigger us to feel the components of grief all over again. But not to worry, eventually the hope is the intensity and frequency of the grief symptoms will subside.
In the meantime, we have to learn to be realistic and compassionate towards ourselves while we grieve. Many want acceptance ASAP, but we know by protectively shutting off all other aspects of grief it can create more problems in the future. Some effects of grief include immunity challenges, digestive issues, sleep difficulties, fatigue, heart problems, body aches and pains, depression and anxiety (https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/when-loss-hurts-6-physical-effects-of-grief-0520187). So, as much as we want to rush through grief, we need to focus on building coping skills, supportive resources and maybe even participating in therapy. Re-shifting from avoidance to seeking help, will help mediate the long term effects of grief.
When should we expect to feel better once grief has hit? Unfortunately there is no specific time stamp that reads grief has expired. As we go through the cycle of grief and utilize all we need to aid in the healing process, it will become less intense.
So in the meantime, get in touch with your local therapist (you can search for one here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us), feel all the feels of grief, seek out your support system, get involved in your community through church or a grief support group (you can find one here: https://www.griefshare.org/), and please have compassion towards yourself. Grief is complicated, and because it is, you can take off any pressure or guilt if it’s been 7 months and you find yourself cycling through grief.
Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.
Until next time!
Claudia Stanley, LCSW