Grief and Loss, we have experienced it, will experience it one day or we know someone who has. So often we can associate grief with the death of someone close to us which is accurate however there are other facets to grief and loss which can also include the loss of anything that holds significant value to us. This includes divorce, financial loss, a breakdown of a relationship, an amputation, loss of health, aging, loss of a job, many subtle losses and unfulfilled dreams or life goals.
Grief can take on three different forms:
- A normal grief response
- A difficult long-term process of readjustment and healing which can take around two to four years
- A pathological response that can occur when grieving is denied, distorted or delayed
The five stages of loss described by Kubler-Ross can help make sense to what recovery can look like after loss.
Stage 1: Shock, which can include feelings of numbness, distortion of perceptions and expression of intense feelings.
Stage 2: Denial which dilutes reality. This can serve as a protective device while we find ways to cope emotionally.
Stage 3: Feelings of anger which can be associated with resentment towards others.
Stage 4: Depression which slows us down, allowing us to explore the full impact. It can help us let go of the pain of the loss without burying its memory. It manifests itself in physical distress, pain, guilt, remorse, loneliness, panic and fear of the future, a loss of appetite, fatigue and at times hyperactivity.
Stage 5: Acceptance is a time of exploring possibilities and new options. New strengths are developed, and a new way of living can now begin. The grieving person can look back and see what has taken place.
Some practical tips that can help facilitate the grieving process are to practice self-care daily, talk about the loss, postpone major life decisions if possible, keep yourself busy, stay connected with others, write down your thoughts in a journal, eat well, exercise regularly, turn grief into creative energy and if necessary seek professional help. Seeking professional help may be essential when people may fail to grieve or are unable to grieve appropriately for example if grief is delayed, the grieving process is hindered, or when one has a sense of being stuck and is unable to transition forward. As you may have heard me say life isn’t meant to be navigated alone, and if you could identify with this episode, I encourage you to seek the support you deserve. Losses can provide opportunities for growth, reinvention of one’s self and unforeseen opportunities. Keeping in mind this by no means minimises the pain one has experienced or is experiencing and the significance of what has or who has been lost. Until next time C.