Grief is a natural process & reaction to those that have lost someone/something, and can be deeply painful and intense. People grieve for many reasons, and the sense of loss can be profound. The process of accepting the unacceptable is what grieving is all about. Grief can arise from the loss of a loved one, as well as other life events such as relationship breakdowns, chronic illness, or unemployment etc. You can feel fine, and something will trigger the pain all over again. It’s important to understand that dealing with grief takes time. It requires the grieving party to feel what they’re feeling and process their emotions, and also be allowed to express their grief. Keep in mind, grief doesn’t look the same for everyone + every loss is different. Some of the factors that affect the intensity and length of grieving are: the relationship w the thing/person lost, circumstances of the loss, your own experiences
How Long Does Grieving Last?
Many people think of grief as a single instance or short time of pain or sadness in response to a loss – like the tears shed at a loved one’s funeral. But grieving includes the entire emotional process of coping with a loss. Its a life changing process that can range from weeks to years. Every person, situation, and intensity of emotion(s) is different.
General Stages of grief
People may go through many different emotional states while grieving. Your feelings may happen in phases as you come to terms with your loss. You can’t control the process, but it’s helpful to know the reasons behind your feelings. Doctors have identified five common stages of grief
Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.” Denial helps us to survive the loss. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. It’s the brain’s way of “dosing” itself. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the loss all the feelings you were denying begin to surface. As a general rule, the only way out of grief is through it
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who/what is to blame?” Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. As reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. You might direct your anger toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. The grieving party questions why they have experienced the loss.
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.” Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, I will never be angry at _____ again if you’ll just let them live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.” After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. Some signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely as well.
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.” Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. You may not ever feel ‘ok’ about what/who was lost. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality eventho we would want it the other way around, we learn to adjust to this new reality. And although we may always miss or hold memories of the departed, the painful emotions that are felt shortly after the loss definitely soften. It can be comforting to keep this in mind.
Try these things to help you come to terms with your loss and begin to heal:
Acknowledge your pain.
Give yourself time. Accept your feelings and know that grieving is a process. Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions + your grieving process will be unique to you.
Find ways to express your grief, whether these involve allowing yourself to cry alone, journaling your thoughts, writing a letter to the loved one, or creating a scrapbook or photo album to celebrate their life. These expressions of grief will help you release your sadness and set you on the path to healing.
Talk to others. Spend time with friends and family. Don’t isolate yourself.
Take care of yourself. Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically. Exercise regularly, eat well, and get enough sleep to stay healthy and energized.
Return to your hobbies. Get back to the activities that bring you joy.
Join a support group. Speak with others who are also grieving. It can help you feel more connected.
Realize that no one can replace or undo the loss. To heal, the individual must endure the grief process.
If offering support: don’t claim to know what the other person is feeling.
Don’t force the individual to share feelings if he or she doesn’t want to.
Physical and emotional touch can bring great comfort. Don’t hesitate to share a hug or handclasp when needed
Affirmations for grief:
I allow myself to feel this fully, to be here.
I let go of my resistance to this situation.
I choose to heal my hurt spirit.
Grieving takes time. I am patient with my healing process
I’m moving through grief, and on to other emotions.
I can hold onto the love, and let go of the grief.
I can accept help when it’s offered.
Today, I choose to heal.
I’m so grateful our paths crossed.
I am gentle with myself as I heal.
I accept what I cannot change and find the courage to change the things I can.
I rest today when I need it.
I’m through grieving today and I move onto other emotions.
I take care of myself as I heal.
I am thankful for the time I shared with my loved one.
I release the belief that I will never recover from this!
I release shock
I release fear
I release all my feelings of isolation
I release grief
I release trauma
I release turmoil
I release any ways I feel guilty
I release any ways I feel responsible
I release worry
I release anxiety
I release all these unrelenting, painful thoughts and emotions
I release all the tension and pain of holding on too tightly