Coping With Grief

Grief is a natural emotional reaction to loss.  We generally think of grief as a reaction to the death of a loved one; however it can also be an emotional reaction to a significant life change such as divorce, illness, or a pandemic.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

As we progress through this quarantine during the holiday season, you may experience a feeling of loss or grief over the time unable to be spent with loved ones.  It is a difficult but typical emotional response to this situation.  

“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.”  

Helen Keller

Each person experiences grief differently.  The following are all normal reactions to grief:

  1. Feelings of shock, anger, guilt, and intense sadness, sometimes all at once
  2. Difficulty eating, sleeping or focusing
  3. Fear and anxiousness
  4. Physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, aches and pains, weight loss or gain

Some common stages of grief:

  • Denial – tendency to deny the reality of the situation
  • Anger – may be directed at inanimate objects, friends, family, or complete strangers
  • Bargaining – may include guilt that there was something we could have done differently
  • Depression – may be based on our feelings or the logistics of our situation 
  • Acceptance – may appear as withdrawal or calmness

Many people do not experience all of these stages of grief and many times they do not appear in the order listed.  This is perfectly okay and normal. The key to understanding the stages is not to feel like you must go through every one of them, in precise order. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at them as guides in the grieving process.  Everyone processes grief differently.  Some people may skip steps, while others may linger on one for a prolonged time.  

Photo by Aljay Garamay on Pexels.com

Remember, just because a person does not show any outward signs of grief, does not mean they are not grieving.  Everyone experiences grief in a different way and the outward expressions of grief are equally as varying.

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”  

Winnie the Pooh

While grieving is never easy, there are some things we can do to cope with the feelings of loss:

  1. Find an outlet for your feelings.  Don’t try and push them down or ignore your emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Try journaling, exercising, or a hobby.
  2. Get support from family and friends.  Do not try and handle your feelings on your own.  You don’t necessarily need to say anything relating to your feelings.  Even just a virtual meeting or phone call will help you to feel better and more connected.
  3. Take care of yourself.  Eat well and get plenty of sleep and exercise.  Go outside and enjoy nature.
  4. Educate yourself on your experiences.  There are a lot of books and articles regarding dealing with grief.  Go online and find one that will help you get through this difficult time.  
  5. Know that grief and depression are two different things.  Grief is the normal reaction to loss and over time the feelings will subside.  If the feelings do not subside, then you may need to seek professional help.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Every one of us is dealing with loss during this pandemic/quarantine.  It is affecting us each in different ways.  It is important to recognize the feelings of loss and to work through them so you can remain a healthy person. 

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