The Experience of Grieving
When we experience a major loss, grief is the normal and natural way our mind and body react. Everyone grieves differently. And at the same time there are common patterns people tend to share.
For example, someone experiencing grief usually moves through a series of emotional stages, such as shock, numbness, guilt, anger and denial. And physical symptoms of grief are typical also. They can include: sleeplessness, inability to eat or concentrate, lack of energy, and lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
Time always plays an important role in the grieving process. As the days, weeks and months go by, the person who is experiencing loss moves through emotional and physical reactions that normally lead toward acceptance, healing and getting on with life as fully as possible.
Sometimes a person can become overwhelmed or bogged down in the grieving process. Serious losses are never easy to deal with, but someone who is having trouble beginning to actively re-engage in life after a few months should consider getting professional help.
If you, or someone you know, needs additional support in grieving the loss of a loved one, please call us. We’ll do everything we can to help.
Dealing With Grief
After the unexpected death of his wife, Irish author C.S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed, "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. The death of a beloved is an amputation."
While dealing with grief is not easy, we believe the resources within this section of our website can help. Should you need additional support in grieving your loss, please call us. We will do everything we can to assist you.
Grieving with Purpose
No one is prepared for grief. The rush of feelings, the thoughts, anxieties, and heartache can take us by surprise and drive us to our knees. Yet, when we choose to harness that power for self-growth, amazing things can happen. Good can come from pain.
Sigmund Freud first brought up the concept of grief work in 1917, and today the idea that dealing with grief is purpose-driven continues. Dr. James Worden chose to see the work of bereavement as task-oriented:
To accept the reality of the loss
To process the pain of grief
To adjust to a world without the deceased
To find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life
Your current job is to focus your attention on achieving each of those goals. It will not occur in any logical order; each of us is different and the path we walk in the bereavement journey is not a straight one.
Dealing with grief is hard work. It takes both courage and hard work to successfully adapt to losing a loved one.
6 Things to do Towards Your Journey of Healing
Dr. Stephen Joseph identifies what he calls six signposts to facilitate post traumatic growth. He reminds readers too that "post traumatic growth does not imply the absence of emotional distress and difficulties in living. It does imply that it is possible through the struggle to come out on the other side, stronger and more philosophical about life."
Before identifying these six signposts, Dr. Joseph reminds his readers of three very important things:
You are not on your own
Trauma is a normal and natural process
Growth is a journey
He also provides a fundamental rule: don't do anything you might not be able to handle now. "If you experience intense emotions, become physically upset, or begin to panic... stop." He gently reminds readers that "having a sense of personal control over your recovery is important. There might be some things you do not feel ready to handle now, but in time, as you discover new strength and develop new coping skills, this will likely change."
"By focusing on these six signposts," writes Dr. Joseph, "you will find that your post-traumatic growth is beginning to take root."
#1 - Taking Stock: Are you physically well? Are you getting enough sleep and eating the right foods for optimum health? Have you received the kind of medical, legal, or psychological help you need? What is your current condition: physically, spiritually, and emotionally?
#2 - Harvesting Hope: People traumatized by loss often feel hopeless. It's hard to get up in the morning and thinking about the future sparks pessimism and negativity. Find inspiration in the stories of personal growth written by others; set goals and practice hope as you set out to achieve them.
#3 - Re-Authoring: Learn to tell your story differently. Take the victim mentality out of the story of loss you tell yourself and others and replace it with the word survivor to return to a sense of control over your life.
#4 - Identifying Change: Keeping a daily diary can help you to see the small changes within more easily. You can also track those moments when you feel at your best and identify the conditions that brought them about. Identify and nurture the positive changes in your life throughout your bereavement journey.
#5 - Valuing Change: Review these changes, identifying the ones that you'd like to continue to nurture. Personal transformation requires it. Growth is encouraged when we take time to think about what we have gained from loved ones and when we find a way to use what we have learned to give to others.
#6 - Expressing Change in Action: Express your growth in new behaviors or, more simply, put your growth into action. When you think in terms of concrete actions, it helps make the growth experienced within your bereavement real to you.
While the above steps look at some of the things you should strive to do while trying to heal, there are 5 stages of grief that really describes the general emotional roller coaster that many people go through after a loss. Familiarizing yourself with these stages will help you manage these emotions and can help confirm to you that these different feelings are normal.