What is GRIEF?
Human emotions are diverse and so are its effects on our mind and body. Circumstances and environment play a significant role in influencing the plethora of emotions that a human being expresses. Grief is considered to be a natural response to losing an important and loved person or belonging. The degree of grief and its nature varies depending upon the degree of loss and mental strength of the person. While dealing with grief and loss , an individual may feel a lot of emotions like sadness, loneliness, lack of enthusiasm in completing tasks. The causes for grief can be plenty like the death of a loved one, break up after a long relationship, failure in exams/jobs, losing loved belongings, etc. Grieving does not only include the pain of losing but also the entire time frame of coping up with the same.
Stages of Grief:
Although people’s experience of grief varies from individual to individual, it has been broadly categorized into five stages by psychologists. These stages include:
Denial: The initial reaction to a massive loss is shock and disbelief. One might feel shocked and numb at the initial instance of the sad news breaking out. This is a temporary defense mechanism of our brain to deal with the sudden rush of emotions on experiencing something massively heartbreaking. This is a temporary period where our mind protects us from comprehending the intensity of loss and may last for a few hours to a few days.
Anger: It is in this stage that the earlier feeling of numbness is replaced by frustration and anger. This is the stage when the feeling of loss and loneliness is at its peak. The person might feel agitated or irritable while interacting with others. The thought of the “good old days” before the loss occupies the mind and affects the thinking and concentration of the person during this stage. Sometimes the anger and frustration are also on the person for having left us due to death, breakup, etc. This stage may last for a few weeks to a few months.
Bargaining: This is a short stage where the person regrets the decisions not taken which could have prevented the loss. The questions such as “what if”, “if only” arises and slowly the person starts to assess the realities and hardships of living without their loved one. They might also narrate their stories to their friends and relatives to reduce the burden of their pain as well as get a clearer idea of what needs to be done to cope up with the loss.
Depression: As reality starts to sink in and life changes are realized, depression may creep in. The recovering person may start to feel lonely, hostile, and socially withdrawn. Extreme sadness combined with physical symptoms like loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia, bursts of crying is common in this stage. This may last for a few weeks to a few months.
Acceptance: This is the last stage of grief where the person finally learns to cope up with their loss and accept the reality with a news aim to move on in life. It may take years for this stage to arrive but they finally learn to lead their daily lives in a normal manner without the deceased.
How to deal with Grief?
Although there is no standard universal procedure on how to cope up with a loss and everyone’s journey of dealing with grief is different, the following are some of the methods that may help you to deal with grief:
- Talking to yourself: A routinely chat with yourself explaining yourself the new reality may help you in reducing your grief gradually. Explaining to yourself that grieving is a completely natural process and you will find the light at the end of the dark tunnel may help during this self-counseling.
- Talking to friends, relatives: A shoulder to cry on and a person to talk our heart out to can work wonders when coping with grief. Talking to people with whom you feel comfortable and warm can help to reduce the intensity of pain of losing your loved one.
- Taking care of yourself: As much as you take care of your mental health during this period, attention should also be devoted to taking care of physical health. Regular exercises, eating healthy food, and sleeping well are all ways to do the same. Although it is a difficult period, setting up fitness goals can provide motivation to regain enthusiasm in completing daily activities.
- Returning back to hobbies: This period demands for some time off from daily stressful activities and devoting time to interests and hobbies. Goal-based hobbies such as gardening, learning the chords of a new song will provide satisfaction upon completion, and keep the mind diverted from constantly thinking about the loss.
- Joining a support group: Connecting to similar people who are coping with grief can help to reduce your own pain. People coping with grief can share their experiences with each other in such groups. This exposure to the pain and bereavement incidents of a large number of people and their subsequent recovery process can be an inspiration for you to cope up with your own grief.
Time is the best healer and with time sadness eases. However, in some cases, grief doesn’t get better with passing time in spite of trying the common methods. Such cases may lead to extreme depression and psychological trauma wherein medical help is required. If you notice any signs of persistent depression in your process of coping up with grief and realize your mental health deteriorating with each passing day, do not hesitate from seeking medical help in such cases.
About the Author:
Swarnadeep Ghosh is a final year student of Electronics Engineering. He is an animal lover and likes to promote fitness in youth through awareness. Reading about mental health and human psychology are among his hobbies.
- Coping with grief by Ashley Davis Bush, LICSW
- Lessons of loss: A guide to coping by Neimeyer
- Grief to coping by Brener
image credits: Title image – www.hopehealthco.org
2nd image – www.istockphoto.com