HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF AND LOSS
By Avelon B McNae
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope.”
My heart goes out to you as you’re reading this article likely in response to your grief and wanting to know when it will end and what you can do about it. It’s natural when you’re in pain to want to get out of it as quickly as possible. Whatever your loss and however it occurred, I’m so sorry you’re in this pain. Please know there are ways to move through it faster and easier than you will on your own. I’ve been using EMDR II Trauma Therapy since 1995 to help people just like you heal from grief and trauma of all kinds. My office is located at 5554 South Prince Street, Littleton, Colorado 80120.
Call me now for your Complimentary 15 Minute Phone Consultation to find out how I can help you heal faster and with greater ease from your loss! Call 970-422-6102.
Grief is a natural reaction when you lose someone or something that’s important to you. You may feel a variety of emotions, like sadness, despair or loneliness. Moreover, you might experience it for some different reasons. Possibly a mate, friend or family member passed on, a marriage or relationship ended, or you lost your occupation. Other life changes, like protracted illness or a move to a new home, can also lead to grief. God is right there with you in the midst of your grief and loss. He will see you through this difficult time as you turn to Him.
Everyone grieves differently. However, if you understand your emotions, take care of yourself, and look for help, you will heal and recuperate in the best possible of ways.
What Are the Levels or Stages of Grief?
Your emotions may occur in stages as you grapple with your misfortune. You can’t control the development of grief or how you pass through these stages, but it’s helpful to know the patterns behind your feelings. Grief therapists have identified some common stages of the despair of grief.
Denial. When you first learn of a loss, it’s normal to feel; The moment isn’t happening. You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of staggering emotion. It’s a defense system.
Anger. As reality sets in, you’re confronted with the pain of your loss. You may feel disappointed and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power such as God, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too.
Bargaining. During these phases, you dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only.” and “What if.” You may also try to strike a deal with God to avoid the loss or bring back your loved one.
Depression. Hopelessness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Symptoms of depression include great sadness, crying, sleeplessness, and a decreased desire for food. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and isolated.
Acceptance. In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life.
Every individual passes through these phases in his or her way. You may go back and forth between them, or skip one or more stages altogether. Reminders of your loss, like the anniversary of the death or loss, a familiar song or objects that belonged to your loved one can trigger the return of grief.
How Is Long Too Long to Mourn?
There’s no reasonable amount of time to grieve. Your grieving process depends on some things, like your personality, age, beliefs, and support network. The type of loss is also a factor. For instance, chances are you’ll grieve longer and harder over the unexpected passing of a beloved than, say, the end of a romantic relationship.
With time, the depression calms. You’ll be able to feel bliss and joy along with grief. You’ll be able to go back to your normal life eventually. Please know it’s alright for you to do it at your own pace. Sometimes others may try to rush you through it because they don’t want you to suffer, however everyone has to move through grief at their own pace.
Seek Experts Advice
At times, grief doesn’t get better. You may find it difficult accepting the loss. This complicated grief will take longer to heal if there were extenuating circumstances associated with the loss. Talk with me if you have any of the following:
While loss affects people in diverse ways, many of us experience the following symptoms when we’re grieving. Have it in mind that almost anything that you pass through in the early stages of grief is normal—including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious or spiritual conviction.
Shock and doubt – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
Anguish – Deep sadness is apparently the most generally experienced symptom of sadness. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or profound loneliness. You may likewise cry a great deal or feel emotionally unstable.
Guilt – You may lament or feel regretful about things you did or didn’t state or do. You may likewise feel remorseful about specific emotions (e.g., feeling relieved when the person died after a long, painful illness). After death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you might feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you might be mad at yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the urge to accuse someone of the injustice that was done to you.
Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and concerns. You may feel distressed, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a beloved can bring about fears about your mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
Physical expressions – We typically consider grief as a stringent emotional process, however grief frequently incorporates physical issues, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, sickness, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.
How grief therapy can help
Grieving is a normal response to an important loss and is experienced differently by each. Some people will manage the process as best they can through personal support from family, friends, and community. For others, grief therapy can be a powerful tool to help them pass through the grieving process faster and with greater ease.
When Professional Therapy Is Helpful
For some, the experience of loss may be so overwhelming giving cause for intensive, one-on-one counseling with a grief therapist. The loss could be the death of a loved one, the break-up of a significant relationship, or any other loss that causes the individual suffering. I offer grief counseling that is faith-based and includes the reliance on God’s healing power in your life. Grief therapy with EMDR II trauma therapy is an effective means to help you learn to cope, no matter what loss you’re suffering. I will determine an individualized approach to your grief therapy to provide you with the tools you need to work through your grief process.
Benefits of Grief Counseling
According to The Light Beyond, if your grieving has robbed you of the ability to engage in normal activities of daily living, you should immediately seek the help of a mental health professional. As a grief therapist I can help you:
Concentrate on particular areas of your life where adapting is troublesome
Identify strategies and behaviors to help you deal and re-engage in daily tasks
Accept your loss
Find comfort in positive memories without being overcome by a sense of loss
Work through the process of grieving by allowing a safe environment to work through feelings of loss
Understand the typical stages of grief and recognize the feelings you are experiencing are natural
Support groups can be an important part of grief counseling after experiencing significant loss and offer many benefits. They are typically comprised of individuals who are experiencing the same type of loss as you and I offer these groups in my Littleton, Colorado Christian Counseling office.
Involvement in a support group may lessen the sense of isolation often experienced in a significant loss.
Being able to discuss your feelings with others who have had a similar loss can help you connect and recognize you are not alone, and your feelings are normal.
A support group can allow you to exchange relevant information with others. For example, a cancer support group may exchange information on research or resources for families. This exchange seems to benefit participants significantly.
Participating can boost your mood and help relieve stress by giving you a venue to express emotions that you may keep bottled up.
Ideas for Moving Beyond Your Grief
The old saying, time heals all wounds, holds true as long as you take beneficial and supportive actions in your behalf as that time passes. You may never be the same after experiencing a traumatic loss, but with support and time, you can learn to work through the grieving process and live a meaningful, happy life again.
Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment. This could include going to work, volunteering or working around the house.
Try to socialize. While it may be difficult at first, allowing friends to come alongside you in your time of grief, or even do something with you may help take your mind off your sadness for a while.
Many people find solace in their religious faiths. Spend time with God in prayer, meditation and at your place of worship to help gain a better perspective.
Get creative. Writing and art both provide a means of self-expression and an outlet for emotions that may be too painful to otherwise process right now.
Reading can help you escape the mundane things of daily life for a while and help you think about something else other than your grief.
Searching for meaning in usual daily activities can provide an outlet for grief and support through personal-care.
What’s Best For You.
Grieving is an individual process. The magnitude of the loss, your support systems, and your coping mechanisms will determine the level of assistance you need to work through a loss and regain a sense of peace. Knowing that grief is a natural response to a loss is important. If time and conventional methods of support are not enough, consider talking with me to see if professional grief counseling may be right for you. I’m always here to help you and I welcome your phone call!
Call me now for your Complimentary 15 Minute Consultation to find out how I can help you heal your grief faster and with greater ease! Call 970-422-6102.