Natural Ways to Heal from Grief and Loss: Stages, Symptoms of Grief
Losing someone about whom you care a lot can be extremely painful. You may be flushed with all sorts of emotions and may also feel that sadness as well as pain that you are going through will never cease. These can be considered as normal reactions that are associated with a major loss. While grief cannot be experienced in a right or wrong way, there are healthy ways that can be adopted to relieve the pain and allow yourself to move on with life.
Pain and agony is a usual reaction to loss. It is the emotional suffering that a person feels when a beloved one is taken away. The more major the loss is, the more powerful the agony will be. You may link grief with the death of a beloved one, which is usually the most intense kind of grievance. But, the loss of any person or thing can cause grief, including:
- Loss of a friendship
- Loss of health
- Losing a job
- Your beloved one suffering from grave illness
- A miscarriage
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a cherished dream
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Loss of financial stability
- Loss of safety after being in a traumatic event
- Selling the family home.
Even the losses that are subtle often lead to grief. This can be compared with the feelings that a person experiences while moving, retiring etc...
Different People Grieve Differently
Grieving is individualistic and highly personal. The way you grieve depends on a host of factors that include coping style and personality, faith, life experience and the type of loss incurred. The process of grieving takes time to heal. This cannot be forced on any individual as there is no schedule for healing. Some people are able to cope in a couple of weeks while others take few years. Whatever might be the experience, it is necessary for you to give enough healing time.
What are the Stages Involved in Grief or Agony?
A psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in the year 1969, introduced something that is known to be "five stages of grief." These were based on the studies that were carried out on the feelings of all the patients who were under terminal illness. However, most people have generalized it to some other negative aspects in life like the death of a lover or break-ups. The following are the five stages of agony or grief:
- Denial: "This cannot happen to me."
- Anger: "Why are these things happening? Who should be blamed for it?"
- Bargaining: "If you stop this from happening, then I will…"
- Depression: "I'm too gloomy to do anything."
- Acceptance: "I completely understand what happened and I accept it."
If you are going through any of these emotions that are triggered due to the loss you have faced, it should also be known that these feelings are natural and they will heal as the time advances. However, every person who is in grief does not go through these stages and it is completely fine. To be in the process of healing, you do not have to cross each stage. Some people are able to face their grievance without passing through all these stages. If you go through these stages of grief, it is not necessary to follow them in the same order.
Kübler-Ross never set these stages as a constant framework that will apply to all those people who are grieving. Grief can be considered as a response that people face due to loss and it all differs from person to person.
What are the Most Common Symptoms of Grief and Loss?
While people are affected by loss in various ways, most of them experience the below-mentioned symptoms while they are in grief. Just remember that things that you experience in the initial grieving stage are absolutely normal. These may include feelings that can make you go crazy or may seem like seeing a distressing dream or questioning your beliefs about religion. Common symptoms of grief and loss include:
- Disbelief and Shock: It can be extremely hard for you to accept the loss that has incurred to you. You may have issues believing that you are suffering from the losses and refuse the reality. If an important person you love is dead, you may expect the dead person to appear even though he or she exists no more.
- Agony: Prolonged sadness is a symptom that is universally observed while grieving. You may have feelings of despair, loneliness, emptiness or yearning. One might also tend to weep a lot or feel unstable on an emotional level.
- Regret: You may be apologetic or feel culpable for all the things that you did not say or do. You may feel guilty about not doing something to avoid the loss of the loved one.
- Fury: Even though the loss that you have faced was not due to anybody's fault, you may feel resentful and angry. If you have lost someone you love, then you may blame doctors, God and yourself at time as the person abandoned you. You may also feel like blaming someone else for the problem that happened.
- Worry: A major loss can give rise to many worries and fears. One might also feel insecure, helpless and anxious. One may even have anxiety attacks and have fears of their own death or the fear of facing all the responsibilities on their own.
- Bodily Symptoms: People often think of grief as a mental process but it is blend of various problems like nausea, weight gain or loss, nausea, pains or aches and sleeplessness.
#1: Getting Support is the Best Way to Naturally Heal from Grief and Loss
The prime factor in healing from the incurred loss is having the support of your loved ones. Despite when you do not feel comfortable speaking about your emotions even in normal times, you should express it while grieving. Sharing about your losses can ease the burden of grieving and make it easier to manage. Remember to never grieve alone and be in company of others who are supportive of you. Connecting to others in the right way will help you in healing in a better way.
- By relying on friends and family members for help, you will naturally heal from grief and loss. Even if take immense pride in being self-sufficient and strong, it is time for you lean on people who care for you while in the grieving period. Draw them close and do not avoid them. Accept the emotional support that they are offering. There are times when a person is willing to offer help but does not know what to do. So, tell them about the things you need.
- By letting your faith to be your comfort, you can gradually heal from grief and loss. If you have to follow a religious traditions, embrace the comfort it grants. If certain spiritual activities like meditating, praying or visiting the church is of prime importance to you try to rely on them. If you are bound to question your faith in religious norms while mourning for your loss, speak to the clergy member in your religious community.
- By being a part of the support group and sharing, you can naturally revive from grief and loss. You can feel extremely lonely while grieving even when you are amidst your loved ones. When you share the grief with others who have underwent through similar experiences, it can be of great help. To find a grief support group in your locality, take referrals from hospices, counseling centers, funeral homes and local hospitals that operate in your area.
- By speaking to a grief counselor or therapist, you can naturally overcome grief and loss. If you find that your grief is way more than you can handle, seek the help from a mental health professional who has experience in handling grief counseling session. An experienced therapist can help you in working through the emotions that are intense and overcome the obstacles that you face while in grief.
#2: Taking Proper Care of Yourself is Another Natural Way to Heal from Grief and Loss
Taking proper care of yourself is a good way to heal from grief and loss. When you are anguished or are in grief, it is extremely important to care for yourself. The stress of losing someone can sap away all your energy and your reserved emotions as well. Taking care of your emotional and physical health will help you in reviving in difficult times.
- By allow your feelings to get in; you will naturally heal from grief and loss. You can only try to hold back your grief but you will never be able to avoid it at all times. In order to heal from it, you have to face the pain. When you try to avoid the feelings of sadness, the process of grieving is prolonged. The grief that is unresolved can often lead to other complications like health problems, anxiety,substance abuse and depression.
- By expressing your feelings in a clear and original way, you will naturally heal from grief and loss. Note down in your journal about the losses that you have experienced. Compose a letter and mention all those things that you could not say to the person you lost. Make a photo album celebrating your loved one's life or enroll in an organization that mattered to the person.
- By caring for your physical well-being, you will naturally recover from loss and grief. Your mind and body are interlinked. When you are physically fit, you will also experience emotional excellence. Fight stress and fatigue by sleeping for long hours, eating a balanced diet followed by the right exercise. Do not use alcohol or drugs to get away from the feelings or grief that you are experiencing.
- Never let anyone tell you about the way you feel and you do the same as well. Your grieving period is your own and no one else has the right to tell to move on or just forget it. Allow yourself to feel the way things are flowing in without any judgment or embarrassment. It's okay to cry, yell at the paradise or be angry. It is all the way okay to feel joyous, cherish every moment, laugh and let go when you are ready.
- Plan in advance for triggers that can be caused due to grief. Holidays, anniversaries and landmarks can bring back certain feelings and memories. Be prepared for an emotional whack and know that it is completely normal. If you are sharing a life cycle event or a holiday with some of your relatives, speak to them about the expectations and follow the strategies to admire your loved one.