There comes a time when each of us will have to deal with a significant loss. Bereavement, also referred to as grief, is explained as a series of responses to a major loss. In most cases, when people refer to bereavement, they are typically relating it to the loss of a loved one or even a pet. However, it can also be used to describe the emotional state following the loss of physical ability, possessions, a job or any other occurrence. Some of the more common responses to grief include anger, sadness, or in some cases, relief. Those grieving may feel a need to withdraw or detach from others or the day-to-day functions of their life.
There are multiple steps in the natural grieving process. However, there are times when the grieving person gets stuck on one stage. When this happens, it can negatively affect their grieving by preventing them from moving on. This is a very unhealthy and potentially dangerous cycle to get stuck in. Navigating through the grief process is different for everyone. The expected outcome, however, is to attain acceptance of the loss and the ability to move forward with life.
Although the grieving process varies per the individual, there are four or more stages that can be utilized. The four basic steps include:
Shock and Denial: For anyone who experiences loss, shock is the initial response. This emotional reaction helps protect the individual from being unexpectedly overwhelmed by the loss. At this stage, the individual may not be willing or able to accept what has happened. This initial stage can last anywhere from two to three months.
Intense Concern: This is the period in which the individual has constant thoughts about what happened. This can hamper their ability to concentrate even when performing daily tasks. Ofttimes, when a conversation occurs with others, it ends up with the grieving individual talking about their loss. This stage can last anywhere from six months to a year.
Despair and Depression: The stage of despair and depression is, for most, the longest period of grief. It is by far the most distressing stage for the grieving individual. It is during this stage that the grieving individual slowly begins to come to terms with the loss. Irrational behavior, guilt, anger, depression and anxiety are the dominant emotions.
Grief Recovery: The main goal of grieving is not to completely purge all of the pain and the memories of the loss. In the grief recovery stage, new interests can develop and the grieving individual will begin to feel and function more normally. The goal at this point is to reorganize life and no longer place the loss as the center.
Following the loss of a loved one, grief begins to envelop a bereaved person, and it can take on various shapes and forms. While grief is normal, it sometimes affects every aspect of a person’s life. Click to learn how grief support can help those suffering recover from grief.
For many, grief support is essential to being able to lead a normal and fulfilling life. When the loss of a loved one or any other devastating events occurs, getting help to manage those emotions and grieve properly is a great option. Here are some things a grieving individual can expect when getting support:
Anyone who has experienced a devastating loss needs grief support. This loss can be defined as the loss of a loved one, a job, a place to live or any other life-altering event. Most commonly, serious bouts of grief occur when it relates to the loss of a loved one or pet. The more significant the loss, the more intense the pain and grief can be. If the natural grieving process is difficult to get through and you find yourself unable to move on, then it is essential that professional help is sought.
Recovering from loss through the grieving process is possible with the right help. Here are some essential steps to successful grief recovery:
1) There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Being open to support when it is offered is a great first step.
2) Do not rush your grief. It is a deeply personal journey that takes time. Give yourself time to feel.
3) Understand that grief comes in waves. Some days are better than others. This is a normal part of the grieving process.
4) It's essential to acknowledge your grief and not suppress it. Suppression can eventually lead to physical and even mental illness.
5) Grief has five stages. Each of these stages must be experienced fully before being able to move forward.
6) Create a way to outwardly express your feelings. This is called a “ritual.” Make a memorial or take flowers to the grave and find a way to honor and show love to your loved one.
7) Writing is a great release. Journaling about your feelings and thoughts is an effective way to give a voice to your internal emotions. This allows your brain a different way to process your emotions.
8) Spend time with other loved ones. Be able to feel the continuity of life by sharing memories, sharing stories and feeling supported is very therapeutic.
9) Find a new hobby or skill. Joining a support group or class, or engaging in a new interest can provide a great sense of purpose and add new dimensions to your life.
10) Revive your spiritual side. Listen to or read inspirational messages to help connect to the bigger picture. The finality of loss can be overwhelming, but learning to embrace life and move on will provide an opportunity for newness and hope.
Grieving is one of the toughest moments in anyone's life. People build their lives to include activities, people and pets they love. Whenever something or someone you love is gone, it creates feelings of extreme loneliness, sadness and sometimes fear. That is when it is time to reach out and get help dealing with these emotions. With professional help, you can enjoy life again.
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