- Death & Loss of Life
How to manage Grief
Losing someone special comes to all of us at one time or another in our lives. How we handle the passing is dependent on many factors.
Some such factors are, how the person died; (after a long illness or suddenly); the age of the person, the circumstances of their death, and the influence that person had on your life, etc.
Grief is not something to gloss over or have a 'stiff upper lip' about. It's a normal and natural reaction to loss. Grief can lead to depression if it isn't dealt with: There is a process which helps to know about and to observe. Most people have heard of the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Grief is individual: For example, in the case of someone who has bravely born a long and painful illness, there is an initial sense of relief for the carer and family.
The stages of grief have been occuring already in the life of that family: the denial stage came with the diagnosis, the anger at witnessing the pain and suffering, the bargaining with doctors and treatments (and the second-guessing decisions made ). Depression follows when it is realized the illness is indeed, terminal, (regardless of which doctors/treatments/life-style is chosen ). Acceptance is often easier for the loved ones in the case of this long-term suffering, but the soul and hearts are still vulnerable and sore and needs some peace to heal.
For those who suffer the loss of a young adult, child, or by some injustice, the stages are much more pronounced. The pain can be unbearable and the need for justice a life-long quest to assuage the agony. The rage can be all-consuming along with reliving the loved ones suffering or lost opportunities. This grief needs action because these people often feel like they may explode with rage and despair...or conversely feel completely numb. In these situations, therapy and counseling are essential to recovery and healing.
Getting beyond grief therefore is unique to your situation and has to be addressed. Here are some simple (but effective) ways to help you get some peace .. remember, you won't feel like doing any of this...so just fake it until you make it:
1. Thank God/Life/the Universe (whatever your belief system is) for the time you had together.
2. Be at peace with death as a natural process, however unfair and however painful, it is outside of your control...
3. Survivor guilt (or guilt for not having been able to protect your loved one )...pulls you down and keeps you in pain. It helps to see life as a gift that we didn't ask for; we don't know how long we have or each person's purpose; so it isn't for us to judge or try to control: This will help you forgive yourself. Whatever happened; it really wasn't your fault.
4. Yesterday is gone. Remembering things you said that were unkind, or holding onto how they suffered, is only going to cause you more pain: let it go... let it go... and put a note on your refrigerator/computer/bathroom.... to keep on taking deep breaths.
5. Don't stay alone. Get out. Accept invitations~ you may not want to, and you may be ashamed of how you look/feel/think..perhaps fearful that you may break down. Allow yourself to trust others; they need you too and they want to help. Take small steps, write letters, ask for help.. have a bubble bath/walk/talk to someone.
6. Let people in..eventually you will begin to care about others again, but right now you are lost and confused. They can guide you just by their presence. It doesn't matter that you are not 'yourself.'
7. Get out and look at nature. Listen to music. Cry when you need to. Laugh about the fun things you shared... talk about your loved one.
8. Plan a trip for the future - real or imaginary.
9. Don't feel guilty if you get happy.. its okay to be alive.. you didn't die and that's okay too!
10. Until we know, we are all in the dark doing the best we can.. it may be of some comfort to know that living in the "now" allows us freedom from analzying yesterday (and all its emotion) and dreading tomorrow (with all its fears). Today is all we have: give into it. Let it surprise you.
Its not easy to keep things simple because of our thoughts. So, turn them off for a while.. through your senses: Feel the sun/fresh air/rain/snow on your skin. Smell the air/flowers/cars/cooking...Look all around you as if for the first time... reach out and touch someone/something.. listen to the message within a silence and let the music of life sooth you..enjoy your favorite foods or try a new dish.
Relax. Its okay. You're going to get through this!