Necessary losses are a part of our lives. Loss softens us, and causes us to reexamine our lives. Many changes come with the loss of someone you loved. It can take many months, or longer to adjust to life without that beloved person. One has to recreate your sense of self.
There is no one correct way to grieve. Recently, I've had patients reflect that in a grief group at a local hospital they were told to sit in a chair and do an hour of grieving each day, but that's not what I would generally recommend. I have found that grief is as individual as your thumb print or a snowflake. Many people report that grief comes in waves of 20-30 minutes, and can be triggered by many different things. You need to grieve your way, and have support for doing so.
Many feelings are normal as we grieve: sadness, anger, fear, relief, abandonment, shock, confusion, and emptiness.
• What factors impact grief?
• Your relationship with the person you lost
• The suddenness or the expected nature of the loss
• Your temperament
• Your coping skills
• Your support system
• Your faith
• Your loss history and having resolved past grief
The more deeply you were attached to the individual, the greater the loss. When I am working with someone who has lost a baby or a child, that is a huge life-changing kind of loss. A couple can be married for 50 plus years, and depending on the quality of the relationship it could be a much more or less difficult transition. Losing your last or only parent can propel you into being the oldest generation in your family. The end of a friendship or the loss of a cherished pet can be very painful, and unearth other feelings of unresolved loss from earlier in your life. Loss is cumulative.
Grieving is hard work. It can make you feel physically and emotionally drained. When you are grieving, it's important to do extreme self-care and nourish yourself as much as you can. There are tasks of mourning to be done, including feeling the pain of the loss and adapting to your life without that person in it to call or spend time with.
Each individual has a loss history. I usually try to take information about previous loss in the first few sessions in counseling individuals. Your history of loss includes all the moves, break-ups, family divorces, job loss, loss of friends as well as loss by death that you have experienced in your lifetime. Looking at how you have coped with past losses and what was helpful can be a good place to start approaching the current loss you may be experiencing.
• What helps people who are grieving?
• Support from friends and family
• Eating healthfully
• Getting back into life as you can
• A place or person where you can process your grief
• A growth-oriented mindset
Loss is a part of our lives and while very painful, also allows us to grow and to reflect on our own lives and mortality. Getting good at letting yourself fully grieve allows you to go forward being more open, more loving and with a deeper sense of reverence for the delicate nature of our time here. Understanding how your own loss history informs your life can help you become more fully human and more empathic to others.