How to Deal With the Loss of A Loved One
Humans are social beings and the people we come across have a massive impact on the person we become. Losing a loved one can feel like losing a part of your own identity. Your loss might come from death or separation. You can feel swept away by grief and find it difficult to see a ray of positivity. Grief isn't just accompanied by sadness, it can surface in the form of intense reactions such as shock, anger, guilt, hopelessness, and disbelief.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be one of the hardest things to do in your whole lifetime, especially if it's a family member or partner, but life goes on.
In this article, we'll discuss common symptoms of grief and ways to effectively cope with it.
Stages of Grief
In 1969, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross published a book called, "On Death and Dying". Since then, millions of people worldwide have recognized their symptoms in the 5 stages of grief that she mentioned in her writings. The various stages do not have to appear in an orderly manner and each of them is unique. In fact, you can revisit some of them numerous times.
Here are the stages of grief that you might have to deal with after the loss of a loved one.
During this stage, you're in a state of disbelief and shock. You might not even acknowledge the loss you've incurred and act as if nothing ever happened. Individuals are known to go numb emotionally as they refuse to deal with reality.
Once you finally accept the truth, anger might start to set in. You might be furious at yourself for not trying harder to keep the person around or at them for leaving you all alone. If you've lost somebody due to medical reasons, your rage might be placed on the doctors or medical authorities in charge. The anger you feel isn't necessarily rational during this phase, it's just your mind trying to find a definite cause behind your pain.
When you've lost a loved one or are on the verge of doing so, you might be so desperate to get them back that you're willing to give up anything to just ease the pain. People often make requests to a higher power to let them have the person they love back. It's a reaction to the helplessness one feels. At this stage, an individual just wants to believe that some miracle could indeed make everything go back to normal.
Once you're past the emotional frenzy, you start to realize the inevitable truth. Instead of panic and screaming, a fog of sadness surrounds you. Dealing with depression after the loss of a loved one can be very isolating, especially if they were the person you'd talk to during the rough phases in your life. In this phase, the pace of your life might slow down and you could find it harder to engage in social situations. Read the article here to find out things you could do to get through this phase: https://www.iamears.com/blog/Things-to-Do-in-Depression-3c59dc048e885024
Acceptance is not about getting rid of the pain you felt due to your loss, rather it's about coming to terms with what has happened. You do not resist reality anymore and have adopted a new way of life that doesn't involve them. You might still miss them, but you can now begin to heal and move forward.
Ways to Cope With the Loss of A Loved One
Losing a loved one can make you feel like your world is crumbling down. The healing process varies from person to person but what's most important is to not force a certain reaction out of yourself. You might feel like you're stuck in a perpetual cycle of recounting their memories and being upset by the end, but you can get through these bad times by implementing some strategies.
Here are some ways to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Be Patient With Yourself
You can't get over such excruciating circumstances in a day or even a month. The time taken to heal depends on you and the significance of your loss and you have to let yourself go through the motions. Accept the fact that you might not be ready to socially interact with people or get back to your normal routine from the get-go. You might oscillate back and forth between feeling better and then back to being sad, but it's completely normal. Trying to speed up the process forcefully can lead to your grief resurfacing years later in the form of toxic habits or even mental health issues.
At times like these, you might be tempted to isolate yourself from the world and ball up in self-pity, but doing so without an end can turn out to be emotionally unhealthy. You need to surround yourself with family, friends, or anybody you can trust from time to time. They can become a source of emotional support and can check up on you in case you slip too far into despair. Having somebody who can just hug you and sit by you during your tough times is a boon.
Take Care of Yourself
People often slip into depressive phases after they've incurred an emotional loss and stop taking care of their daily hygiene and nutrition. These tasks can seem like chores but they're essential to your overall well-being. Staying up late at night is a common practice as well. The culmination of these bad habits can cause your spirit to further deteriorate.
If you don't have the energy to look your best or eat the healthiest food, then just stay clean and well-fed. Take one step at a time and improve your schedule. A healthy lifestyle can help you be more positive in the face of adversity.
When you've lost a loved one, feelings of guilt and inadequacy can be overwhelming. People often look back and think that they should've treated their loved ones better, taken more care of them, or just expressed their love. The truth is, you can't go back to the past so stop beating yourself over it. We're all just humans. Hence, take the weight off yourself and try to be a better person hereon.
Do Something New
Eventually, you'll have to go back to your daily routine because life doesn't stop for anyone, but something you can do to avoid ruminating over the looming despair is to do something new. The change you make doesn't have to be major, you could just pick up a new hobby, change your hair color, or read a new book. The motive behind this is to help you look forward to all that life has to bring and distract you from the negativity you feel.
You might want to drown your pain in alcohol or drugs because they help you get away from your subconscious, but it's not a long-term solution. It's only going to worsen your mental health and keep you stuck in the angry/guilty phase.
Alcohol is harmful to your body but if you still choose to consume it, take in only as much as you can handle. The best thing to do would be to stay away from it because of your mentally and emotionally vulnerable state.
Postpone Major Life Changes
To overcompensate for the loss you've just borne, you might take a major decision impulsively that turns your life upside down. This could be moving to a new city, remarriage, selling a property, etc. Likely, you're not in the right state of mind to make such moves and they can lead to regret later on. Take time to adjust to your loss on your own instead of trying to alter your entire life just to forget it.
If your grief gets too much for you to handle, seeking professional assistance could be a step in the right direction for you. Your therapist can provide you safe space to talk and suggest methods so that you can work through your issues together. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great way to identify your triggers and subdue them by making behavioral changes.
Losing a loved one is gut-wrenching. People often sympathize with you in the beginning but soon it all subsides and you might experience overwhelming sadness alone. Visit iAmEars to find a community that recognizes your pain and understands it. Vent out your feelings on the platform and interact with people who've gone through the same problems as you have. If you're finding it hard to cope with your circumstances, sign up for an online counseling session with our expert psychiatrists and counselors. They'll patiently listen to all your hardships and come up with strategies that can help you move on from your current state. iAmEars takes care of your mental health through all the adverse times.
There's no quick fix to getting over the loss of a person with whom you shared your time, thoughts, and memories. It's a slow and agonizing journey. Even after years, you might think about them once in a while. The key here is not to forget, but to accept. Death and separation are parts of our existence so learn to live with them. Time heals all wounds.
Also, do not be surprised or doubt your emotional capacity if you do not react the way people around you expect you to. Everybody's response to bereavement and estrangement is different, do what helps you cope with your circumstances the best.