What is Grief? What Does It Do To Us?

Ever experience a very deep sadness about something? Was it because a pet or someone in your life passed away? Did you experience a variety of emotions that affected your mood? You may have experienced fatigue to the point where you couldn’t get out of bed, eat, or do anything. What you were dealing or dealt with is grief. I’ve dealt with it quite a few of times in my life. So your not alone when it comes to experiencing grief.

What is Grief?

Grief is how we respond when we have experienced the loss of someone that we had a bond and affection for. Everyone experiences grief differently. The duration can be long or short; it all depends on the person. You can experience numbness, shock, sadness, fear, guilt, isolation, even anger. All these things can happen all at once and one can influence the other. For example, if you hear that someone passed away and you weren’t expecting it, you may experience an initial shock and you may stay in that state for an unknown period of time before the sadness takes place. Grief can take a huge toll on you. The things that are easy to do like brushing your teeth wind up being hard to do. Fatigue is one thing that is common for people to experience. Your mind is trying to process the loss you have experienced which takes up energy. If you’re someone who is able to wake up, go to school or go to work, come home, and do things in the afternoon till you go to sleep, you may question why you’re having a hard time doing those things. All of a sudden you only have enough energy to go to school or work and when you come home you just crash and sleep all afternoon. You may even experience aches pains all over your body, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. Well your body is going through the stages of grief. Grief can come in waves, some waves are tougher than others.

The Stages of Grief

There are five main stages of grief. Denial, acceptance, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Here is some information on the five stages.

When it comes to denial, you just don’t accept what has happened. You don’t want to believe that person is gone. You go to sometimes great lengths to avoid the truth. You may be in a state of shock and confusion. It’s one thing to have someone pass away and you knew it was going to happen, but it’s another thing when someone passes away without any kind of warning. Denial has a way of helping you to pace your feelings when it comes to grief.

After the denial has passed, that’s when the anger can set in. For example, if someone passed away in a motorcycle accident because they we’re paying attention to the road, you may get angry at them because you believe they should have been more careful. You get angry at the fact that you experienced something tragic. When you try to speak with someone or socialize with others, you may snap at them over small things because you’re on edge.

Bargaining is where you struggle to find any kind of meaning to your recent loss. The one thing you ask yourself over and over is “If only something”. You think what if they got medical attention sooner? If only I had been there, it wouldn’t to have happened. We may even bargain with God to postpone the coming pain.

Then comes the depression. The first kind of depression we get is sadness and regret. We can become worried about the cost of a funeral. The regret part is the idea that we didn’t spend enough time with the person we lost. The second kind is where we prepare to separate ourselves from the person we lost and say goodbye.

Lastly there is the acceptance part. We have to allow the grief to take place. If we need to cry, then we need to allow ourselves to cry. We can begin to start coping with the loss. In some way shape or form, we have to be able to say goodbye in order to move on which can take time. The thing is there is no telling how long it can take because as I mentioned everyone grieves differently.

There there is no right or wrong way to grieve, but how to cope with it is another thing. Here are some healthy ways to help cope with grief:

1. Turn to Your Family and Friends

Going going through any kind of grief can take a toll on you mentally physically and emotionally. Having having your family and friends to go through it with is very helpful. You’re able to comfort one another with hugs, comforting words, have a shoulder to cry on, and having that face to face interaction is very helpful. They can help you with funeral arrangements or just hang out with you. They can be there for you if you need anything, just remember to ask.

2. Join a Support Group

Having a support system of friends and family is a great thing. It can also helpful to associate yourself with others who have experienced the same thing. Finding a support group and talking with others who have experienced the loss of a loved one can be a comforting and educational experience. You can look up support groups in your area online, talk with friends and family, maybe the funeral home, or the hospital can point you in the right direction.

3. Talk to a Counselor or a Therapist

If you’re having trouble finding a support group or someone who understands you, seek out a therapist therapist or grief counselor. They can help you work through the intense and maybe complicated emotions that grief can bring you. There are obstacles and rough waves that they can help you better cope with.

4. Remember to Eat

Seems like this would be an unusual tip, but grief can be very crippling and cause a great deal of fatigue. Personally I found it tough to eat, but I had to remember that my body needs food for energy. If you don’t feel like cooking, see if you have something small to munch on. If you got some fruits or vegetables, snack on them. Warm up some popcorn, munch on crackers. You can’t go wrong with warming something up from a can or the freezer. Fast food can be tempting; if you get it, that’s ok. Remember you want to get something in your body, you can stop eating it later.

5. Do Something Fun

The sadness and depression can be tough to deal with. One thing to remember is that the grief of losing someone you cared about is something that you truly never get over. In time you learn to keep it in check. What helps with that is to engage and activities that you find joy in. After you have accepted the loss of someone, it can be tough to get back into the things that bring you joy. If you aren’t ready to go out to a huge party with friends or an amusement park, for example, that’s ok. Stay in, watch your favorite movie, listen to your favorite music. Play games with friends online or in person. Watch your favorite TV show even if it’s reruns. If you can find something to help you laugh, go for it; laughter is the best medicine.

Final Thoughts and Sum Up

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again grief is handled differently by every single person. There is no right or wrong way. Don’t suppress it, let it out, it will help you to move forward. If you are religious or spiritual take comfort in your faith. The best thing to remember is to take care of yourself. You have others that care about you as well as your well-being.

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