Allow yourself to grieve. It may take months or even years but give yourself the time and space and don’t try to hurry it. Everyone is different – find your way…for however long it takes you.
You may associate grief with the death of a loved one – and this type of loss does often cause the most intense grief. But any loss can cause grief, including:
- A relationship break-up or divorce
- Loss of health
- Losing a job
- Failing to get a particular job
- Loss of financial stability
- Moving house
- A miscarriage
- Loss of an anticipated healthy child if you have a child with serious health issues
- Loss of a cherished dream
- Loss of a friendship
There are many “models” of grieving <!–more–> but the one below is a simple version which I find most helpful. It is important to remember that whilst it is written as a series of steps, these steps are not necessarily sequential and you may need to repeat steps a few times, or you may avoid some altogether.
The 5 stages of grief:
- Denial – The first reaction to a loss, numbness or shock can help cushion the blow and can help you get through the initial practical ramifications. This stage can last a few hours, days, or even a few weeks.
- Anger – The numbness wears off, and the painful realization of the loss hits full-force; you will yearn deeply for what you have lost. You may be angry and have regrets of things left unsaid or dreams never realized.
- Despair & sadness – The storm of intense emotions of the second stage gives way to a period of heavy sadness, silence and sometimes withdrawal from family and friends. This can happen quite a long time after the event, just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
- Re-organisation – Over time, the sadness stage will start to lessen, and you will begin to see a lightening of your emotions. You will start to perceive your life in a more positive light, although bouts of grief and sadness may persist, possibly for the rest of your life, depending on the depth of loss and your personality. You will start to seek practical solutions to the new problems you are facing.
- Moving on – The final phase of this model is to accept the loss and move on with your life. Sadness will lessen greatly, and new interests will gradually occupy your thoughts more and more, crowding out the misery and desolation. The final stage is when you find a way to move forwards.
All of the grief models stress that you may never fully “get over” or forget your loss, especially if you have lost someone very close to you. The grief process allows you to integrate your memories into a more manageable place in your psyche and heart so that you can resume your life. The process works.
1. Find and accept support – from wherever helps you most, family, friends, faith, counsellors…
2. Feel your feelings – don’t try and suppress them. Allow yourself to cry to talk about your feelings and know that it is ok to laugh too. Try writing your feelings down.
3. Look after yourself – It is more important than ever to make yourself number 1 and eat well, exercise lots and try and avoid excess alcohol or other artificial ways of masking the pain.
“I still miss those I loved who are no longer with me but I find I am grateful for having loved them. The gratitude has finally conquered the loss.” – Rita Mae Brown