Grief is the emotional response to a loss of any kind. A few examples of the types of loss an individual can experience are the loss of a loved one, pregnancy, financial security, marriage, pet, infertility, and health.
A loss means to lose something. That loss can be physical or emotional. What happens to our hearts after the loss is known as the “grieving process.”
Loss is a part of life and grief is how one copes with the negative emotions that arise because of that loss.
Grief can affect every single area of individuals’ lives and the timeline for how long one will be affected varies from person to person.
This is because grief is unique and individual. There is no cookie-cutter way an individual experiences grief.
Grief is a broken heart. It is overwhelming sadness; it is the feeling that life will never be enjoyable again.
Some of the feelings of loss that accompany this overwhelming sadness can include a loss of trust, safety, or faith.
Your emotions may fluctuate, ranging from unpredictable crying episodes to intense episodes of anger. These may include the following:
- The lack of focus
- A zombie-like state (feeling as though you are in a fog)
- Complete loss of appetite
- Inability to sleep
- Excessive sleepiness
- Emotional fluctuations ranging from unpredictable crying episodes to intense episodes of anger
- Intense anxiety
- The need to tell and retell the story of your loved one and their death
Grief can impact us physically, psychologically, and spiritually. A grieving experience is typically associated with the loss due to death. However, you can grieve the loss of anything significant to you.
Grief is associated with a long list of emotional and physical symptoms, including, but not limited to, the following:
Grief is not …
The symptoms of grief will vary from person to person. However, grief is not the following:
- A mental illness
- A pathological condition
- Comprised of five stages
- A problem to be solved.
- A sign of weakness
- A task to be finished
- A disease
You must go through grief to heal what is broken. Sadly, most of us do not know the first thing about grieving, so we choose to avoid the grief.
Grieving takes time. That being said, time alone does not make this pain go away. We are often advised to simply give it time and told that we will eventually start to feel better. This is, without a doubt, the worst advice we can be given.
Think about this: If you broke your leg, would you listen to the advice of “just giving it time” to start to feel better?
While you are trying to figure your healing path, there are somethings that you can do to help yourself:
- Do ask for help.
- Talk to family and friends that have experienced any loss.
- Ask them questions about their healing process.
- Join a grief support group, whether online or in person.
- Take care of yourself physically. This is so important. Grievers can become sick fast due to exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed.
- Do your best to manage your stress. Ask your friends and family for help. Be specific with what you need them to do. Everyone around us is dying to help in some way. We just never ask them for it.
Helping the grieving can be tricky, especially if they act as if they do not want or need our help.
So many of us do not know what to say or do when trying to comfort some who is grieving. Therefore, we do nothing. Helping the griever can be very simple. One can do the following:
- Ask them how they are feeling. Trust that they wish to talk to anyone that will listen.
- Talk about everyday life too. It is in between their daily life that the grief will show up. For example, they could start telling you a story of going to the bank and suddenly, start to cry when they remember their last trip to the bank with their lost loved one.
- Ask them how you can help. However, also tell them the things that you are willing to do. For example, “For the next four weeks, Bob and I will put your trash out so that you do not have to think about it.” Otherwise, you could simply do it.
- Encourage them to seek professional support for their grief.
What changes are you struggling with in your grief at this moment?