What is grief?
Grief is a normal response to the loss of someone or something that we love. Grief can be triggered by a number of significant losses such as the end of a relationship, pregnancy, an opportunity is closed to us or the death of a loved one. Grieving is the process in which a person comes to terms with such losses. Grieving does not mean forgetting.
People react differently to the pain and sense of finality that the loss brings. Some people experience different emotions such as shock, numbness, sadness, anger and resentment. It is okay to experience some or even all of the different emotions that come in the grieving processes. However, when grief becomes complicated, counselling services should be sought to help one cope with the experience of loss.
What can one do to help with coping?
• Talk to others: This may initially trigger intense emotions as you talk about the loss. However, allowing others to be there for you is beneficial and it may also help to join a support group or speak to those who have experienced loss.
• Continue with your routine: Try to do what you can but do not overwork yourself in an attempt to “forget” your loss
• Express yourself: music, art or writing are some of the things that can help one express ones feelings
• Be good to yourself: take time to rest and do the things that you enjoy
• Be patient with yourself: It is okay to feel that things are not the same as they used to be and it may take time to readjust to life after the loss
• Dealing with unfinished business: you might experience some intense emotions especially if you were not able to say words like “sorry” or “goodbye” to the deceased. A counselling psychologist could help you with dealing with this.
• Carry on their legacy: you may find it meaningful to give to others in the memory of the deceased such as by writing books or songs, compiling photos, planning memorials or creating a memory box. You may also want to establish rituals you would like to carry on.
What things are unhelpful?
• Isolating oneself: You may initially want to distance or hide yourself from others.
• Numbing your pain with alcohol or drugs: substances may help you feel better but only for a while and can have detrimental effects on you
• Making important decisions to quickly: resist the urge to make impulsive decisions. It is best to seek advice from close ones to assess whether your decisions are rational or more emotionally based
• Denying your feelings: remember that it is normal to experience the emotions that come with grief. Some find it helpful to cry or scream. Remember that these feelings won’t last forever
• Expecting that each day you will feel better rather than accepting that you may experience ups and downs: we would hope that one as time passes, one is able to deal with the loss better. However, there is no exact time frame for “feeling better”. You may experience some good days and you may experience some off days. Remember that this is normal. Don’t be hard on yourself.
If you need more information or are in need of counselling services, do not hesitate to visit DeKUT’s counseling center.