Grief & Loss
Loss is a universal experience in our lives, and one that most of us are not well-prepared to deal with. Loss can come in many forms, although the more typical ones that we think of are the death of a loved one, the diagnosis of a serious health issue, or the ending of an important relationship. Regardless of the type of loss that has happened, there are some things we can expect when we are dealing with ‘Grief and Loss.’
When faced with life transitions, even if these transitions were planned for and anticipated, such as moving to a new country, out of the family home, or leaving a job, we can struggle with the feelings of the reality of these changes. In cases where the loss is more sudden and unexpected, such as death of a loved one, the loss of health, a miscarriage, or the loss of a pet, we can be surprised by some of the physical and mental experiences that follow.
It can be difficult to sleep, almost impossible to concentrate, our appetite may be affected, we may have trouble managing mood swings, feelings of guilt could surface, we might be quite angry, and all of these feelings / states are absolutely normal. We may also feel a sense of numbness, which is a typical part of the grief process and one which protects us from some of the early shock and disbelief of a sudden loss. Grief and Loss are ‘felt experiences’ which means that we physically feel the effects of these life changes in our bodies. This can be an unsettling experience for many of us.
Some people seem to ‘get over’ their Grief and Loss quite quickly and may only take a few weeks or months to adjust to the new conditions. Many others will struggle to get ‘back to normal’ for many months and well beyond one year. Depending on the type of loss, the support and resources we have around us, and our own unique ways of coping with the world, it is important to trust that even though Grief doesn’t feel good, it will eventually pass and a more ‘typical’ experience of life will return to us.
In some cases, Grief sticks around a lot longer than it ‘should,’ or in destructive ways, and this is called ‘Complicated Grief.’ In cases like this, where you just can’t seem to move through these feelings and get back on track, seeking counselling can help get the process moving again. If you, or someone that you care about, are struggling with overwhelming, acute grief, or grief that just won’t go away, it is best to contact a qualified and experienced therapist right away and seek individual or group support.
In all cases, it is important to find someone to talk with, take good care of yourself physically, eat as well as you can, move your body a bit each day, be kind and patient with yourself, and adjust your schedule and activities as necessary. If you are looking for ways to support a friend or loved one who has suffered a loss, it is important to be as available as you can to this person, be a good listener, try not to be judgmental of whatever the person is feeling, ask questions about what the loss means to this person, avoid platitudes such as ‘it will get better soon’ or ‘God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,’ and create plenty of space and permission for the process of grief to unfold and heal.
Grief and loss is something that we will all deal with at some point in our lives. Having an idea of the process can be very helpful in successfully navigating it, or in supporting someone we care about to deal with a loss. Grief is a natural process that will resolve in time, with the right conditions. If Grief and Loss is not steadily improving as the days and weeks move along, reach out for some assistance as quickly as possible.