There is no timetable for emotions after loss and the attempt to suppress or deny grief are most likely to prolong the process. The grieving process is unique to each individual and can be highly unpredictable. Not everyone will move through the 5 known stages of grief that were identified by E.K. Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Nor will these 5 stages be linear in experience.
Most acknowledge the grief experienced with the loss of a parent, sibling, partner, child, and friend. However, the process of grief also shows up when people experience the loss of a pet, an important role in life, job loss, isolation experienced within a pandemic, or separation/divorce to name a few. The pain associated with these forms of loss are left compounded by the feeling that one has not been given “permission” to experience the grieving process. The framework of mourning can help an individual to process such moments of chaos and transition. If you or a loved one is going through a loss outside of that of another human it is important to remember to respond with compassion and recognize that individual will most likely experience anger, numbness and nonlinear healing.
Grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life. When you are grieving, it is more important than ever to prioritize your self care. Have a look at the following suggestions to help cope with the pain associate with grief and heal:
- Acknowledge your emotions.Typical emotions that may show up are shock, disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, fear.
- Express your emotions through journaling, art, in counselling etc.
- Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions over an unknown amount of time. Plan ahead for these triggers and learn healthy coping strategies to manage them.
- Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
- Seek out face to face support from people who care about you and can hold space for you.
- Prioritize physical movement. Start slow and build momentum.
- Focus on hydration and nutrition as much as possible.
- Be aware of physical symptoms of grief that may show up: fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss/gain, body pain, insomnia.
- Try to maintain hobbies and interests.
- Set boundaries in relationships that support your grieving process.
Do not hesitate to reach out if you are experiencing:
- feel like life isn’t worth living
- wish you had died with your loved one
- blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it