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How to Handle Loss and Grief of Loved One

Loss and Grief

Grief and loss are among many causes of mental illness across the globe. It is difficult to know that you are suffering from loss unless you speak up for what is ailing from within. There is always hope for people experiencing grief and loss as we have developed a guide to help them overcome.

Grief is mainly linked to the death of a loved one or loss through a traumatic event or disaster. It can be expressed in different ways such as distress, anger, loss of sleep and appetite, periods of sadness, anxiety, denial, disbelief, and shock. In most cases, any loss such as miscarriage, divorce or breakups in relationships, or losing a job, often to grief.

Among the difficult emotions, grief is one that doesn’t feel good to acknowledge or express, but feels worse when it isn’t. It is not enjoyable to confront things we miss, regret, or have lost. However, holding those emotions inside is terrible. An unacknowledged feeling can manifest in our bodies in a variety of ways, including sleep disorders, altered appetite, and regular headaches.

Signs of incomplete grief

  • Always prepare yourself for the worst
  • Increased self-destructive actions
  • Higher irritation
  • Having the impression that your emotions are being replayed
  • Having a numb sensation

Types Of Grief

There are four types of grief namely; anticipatory, traumatic, complicated, and disfranchised grief.

i) Anticipatory grief

This one mainly occurs before the person dies, especially when death or loss is expected e.g. if one had a terminal illness.

It helps us be ready for the loss about to come and gives us chance to communicate last words such as asking for forgiveness and making them away you love them.

As much as it sounds better and easier, it can lead to depression for people with depressive tendencies.

ii) Traumatic grief

When we endure the sudden, violent, and/or unexpected loss of a loved one, traumatizing sorrow is more likely to occur. In specific situations and depending on the terrible circumstances of our loved one’s death, traumatic sorrow may be felt.

Traumatic grieving can be incredibly difficult because it may be easy for sentiments and triggers to make us think about our loved ones. Thinking about and remembering our loved one triggers distressing memories and flashbacks, which can cause us to relive our loved one’s passing, particularly if the loss was unexpected.

When trauma and grieving occur at the same time, it can be difficult to see how your loss will be resolved. The common practice of remembering the deceased can actually end up complicating matters and even doing more harm because so many of us try to hold onto tangible objects that are intrinsically valuable, and our memories of the person.

iii) Complicated grief

It is a longer-lasting and more significant kind of grief. It is very close to depression and in most cases, worsens it for victims or leads to it.

Its symptoms are;

  • Having trouble recalling happy memories of a loved one
  • Trouble understanding their passing
  • Longing for your deceased loved one
  • Bitterness for their loss and the sense that your existence has no longer any purpose to them
  • Having trouble trusting others
  • Difficulty thinking of anything besides the passing of a loved one
  • Having trouble trusting other

iv) Disfranchised Grief

It is a type of grief that cannot be publicly mourned. It mainly occurs when the loss is stigmatized and devalued such as miscarriage, or death of a pet.

It could also happen when one’s relationship with the deceased was not acknowledged. For example, losing a close friend or partner whose family does not know you yet, losing a same-sex sexual partner. There is a chance of not receiving sympathy for such cases making it difficult to go through the grief process.

How To Cope with Grief and Loss

There is no right way to grief, nor does grief take a specific period to heal.

Below are some ways that shall help to cope with it;

  • Create rituals/memories

Have a significant activity such as planting a tree by which t gives you memories of the loved one and is a memorial indicating that their legacy continues. You can also dedicate their annual anniversaries to a specific activity they loved such as charity, or visiting the elderly, or the sick.

It is also important to establish daily rituals such as playing games with close friends and family.

  • Connect with others

Grief can cause feelings of isolation and withdrawal from people. however, try to connect with close friends and family members to avoid loneliness and constant wandering thoughts. Have time together to honor your loved one.

  • Ask for professional help from others

Do not be ashamed to ask for help. Seek professional help from counselors, and therapists as they will take you through the healing process.

  • Join a support group for the bereaved.

Listening to their journey could encourage you to hold on and have hope.

How To Help a Child Handle Loss

Behaviors such as persistent anxiety, non-interest in daily activities, depression or sadness, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and acting out in a child are an indication they need more help.

  • Allowing time for children to communicate or use creative means of expression will give them the freedom to grieve.
  • Allowing time for children to communicate or use creative means of expression will give them the freedom to grieve.
  • Keep routines as consistent as you can.
  • With your child, practice calming down and coping techniques.
  • Spend time with your kid reading, coloring, or engaging in other enjoyable activities.
  • Ask inquiries to learn more about the child’s feelings and how they are processing the situation.

Answers should be developmentally and age-appropriate.

Talk to their healthcare provider if; you have any doubts about how they are doing, grief interferes with their ability to learn or maintain healthy connections with friends or family, or your child’s unpleasant reactions seem to last too long.

Ways Of Expressing Grief and loss

The feeling of loss and grief has no specific time to rekindle. Therefore, it is possible that it hits in public. You should not be worried as there are several ways possible to express grief emotions publicly.

On the funeral day, you can wear a t-shirt with a photo of or message to the deceased, join others in singing sorrowful songs, attend a candle-lit vigil, have a tribute, or even cry in public.

You can also tattoo the deceased name, and their birth or death date, all in memory of them.

Grief can be expressed through art (drawings, written art, music) or other creative practices that could give one comfort.

Also, you can vent on social media with limited people viewing your post. You will get a stronger support system.  On this, remember to only post what you are comfortable with letting others know. In case of inquiries, give feedback on what you feel is okay to talk about.

Privately, you can write a journal of your healing progress, both the weak and strong days. This will enable you to be more relieved. You can as well practice meditation to help ease the pain in the heart.

5 Stages Of Grief and Loss

Grief can be felt in five stages;

i) Denial

This entails non-belief that the deceased is no more and having numb feelings. One keeps hoping that they will appear any time; they are just asleep but they will wake up.

A deep sorrow follows after this stage is done. The suppressed emotions begin to rise

ii) Anger

It includes feeling resentment and bitterness. The feelings are in most cases directed at others such as; your boss, or friends in as much as you are aware they do not deserve your anger. Anger could as well be expressed to the deceased and blame them for their death.

The bitterness caused by health is too bad to control it.

Some people are unable to completely get out of this stage while others do not even experience it.

iii) Bargaining

It has many what ifs and if only’. You can promise God or a higher power that you’ll do all they want as long as they’ll resurrect the dead, or just take away the emotions/ feelings and the circumstance from you. It helps postpone frustrations, bitterness, confusion, and sadness.

iv) Depression

You might be evading the feelings in the early stages of grief, attempting to run from them. During this time, however, you might be ready to accept and handle them in a healthier way. It is possible to go through a time of seclusion and loneliness as you process and think back on the loss. To completely process the loss, you can also decide to be in social isolation.

However, this does not imply that depression is simple or clearly characterized. Depression, like the other stages of mourning, may be challenging and nasty. It can appear to be too much. You can experience confusion, fatigue, and fog.

v) Acceptance

During this time, a lot of changes happens. Your life is completely altered, which is totally reasonable. It changes how you perceive many things and how you feel about others. It is not always a joyful stage of grieving and does not mean the sorrow is over. It indicates that you’ve come to terms with the loss and are aware of what it means in your present life. There is a feeling of possibility for the future and a very slow acceptance of the new way of life.

Differences Between Grief and Depression

Grief and depression could share some symptoms such as withdrawing from your social circle. In some cases, grief could trigger depression. However, not everyone who griefs is depressed. The difference comes in at;

  • Duration of the symptoms

People with depression experience it somehow constantly. On the other hand, people who are grieving frequently experience varied or fluctuating feelings.

  • Accepting support

People who are depressed most times start to withdraw themselves and may even avoid social situations. Those who are grieving might often welcome some support from loved ones but refrain from lively social occasions.

  • The capacity to perform

Grieving people could have the ability to attend work or school. Being engaged and taking part in these activities could help them keep their minds occupied, which is an advantage. Clinically depressed persons can have symptoms that are so extreme that they can’t function normally—like going to work or performing other crucial duties.

A complete understanding of how to overcome depression is important as understanding how to overcome grief and loss.

When To Seek Medical Attention

Some people are able to get over grief and loss without mental support. However, consider asking for medical help when you;

  • Lose the will to participate in social activities
  • Feel guilty or responsible for your loved one’s passing
  • Feel like your life isn’t worth living now that your loved one is no more
  • Experience trouble carrying through daily tasks
  • Feel as though life has no meaning and wish you had died
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