Losing a loved one is one of the hardest situations to deal with. The grieving process can bring about a variety of emotions and each person deals with the pain of loss much differently. Some may say time will heal, but those that experience this trauma understand that time only lessens the pain. Mental Health America says it best: “ In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. In fact, death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is.”
Dealing with death is inevitable, so it is important to understand how to cope with it.
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
Healing After A Loss
After losing a loved one, it is normal to feel a number of emotions. Everyone will feel these emotions in a different order, at different times and for different amounts of time. According to Mental Health America, feelings of denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, yearning, anger, humiliation, despair and guilt are normal reactions to loss. Some may call these the steps of the grieving process, but mental health experts point out that everyone processes this type of traumatic event differently.
With so many emotions, a person may begin to wonder if something is wrong with them. They may feel depressed or stressed and become worried about their mental health. However, these raw emotions are a completely normal part of dealing with the experience of loss.
As time goes on, the pain of loss will still be there but the mind finds a way to cope. The pain may lessen but it will always be there. Experts recommend finding a way to memorialize the lost loved one. Volunteering for a charity that they believed in. Going on a trip they always dreamed of. Doing things in honor of them will help create a sort of connection to the beloved.
Reacting To The Loss
Whether the loss was unexpected, like a car accident, or expected, the grieving process is extremely difficult. While many understand that it is mentally tasking, some don’t realize that grieving can bring about physical symptoms.
Those dealing with a loss can experience anxiety attacks, headaches, stomach pain, loss of appetite, sleeplessness and other issues. Medical professionals recommend talking to a therapist to help find a way to manage the symptoms.
The grieving process is also affected by what kind of death occurred. For example, when a parent loses a child the process is unique. Parents seem to experience guilt for the death, no matter the cause. They may also feel like they have lost a piece of themselves.
Similarly, those that lose a longtime spouse can feel the same loss of identity. They may be confused on how to live a normal life without their partner by their side. Losing a spouse can be even more difficult because it brings up issues of raising shared children or adjusting the couple’s financial burdens.
A loss by suicide is most likely the most traumatic loss to deal with. The unexpected and dark details of the death may cause the survivors to feel guilty or angry. They may wonder what they could of done to prevent the death. These complex feelings are normal and should be talked out with a mental health professional. Many organizations, such as the Alliance of Hope For Suicide Loss Survivors, offer a safe place to cope with these emotions.
No matter the details of the loss, any feelings of suicide or self-harm should be alerted to a therapist, doctor or loved one. This potential harmful behavior will not heal the pain of grief, but cause more pain and heartache for others dealing with the loss.
It is important to remember to always be patient. It takes time to cope with the pain and adjust to the change. Expressing emotions and allowing feelings to flow will help in the healing process.
Helping Others With The Loss
You probably won’t have the words to say to make their pain go away and heal their wounds of anguish. However, simply providing friendship and a shoulder to lean on can be extremely helpful to someone in the grieving process. Let them deal with their emotions and simply allow them to feel. Do not judge them or try to explain why they feel how they feel.
One of the most helpful things you can do is offer practical help. Offer to cook, clean or babysit. By taking care of errands and chores, you will allow them time to focus on their feelings and work through them.
If you feel completely hopeless in helping someone cope, you should direct them to someone who can help. Some survivors of loss can greatly benefit from professional help.
Losing a loved one is hard. Life after loss may feel confusing, sad and even hopeless. However, as time goes on, the pain will become less. There will always be a sense of loss, but you will be able to focus on the cherished memories. You will find peace and happiness still exists. Allow yourself to grieve and understand that your feelings are normal and expected.
As the saying goes, “Grief is like an ocean. It comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
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