Grief & Loss
“It is kind of shocking when your world falls to pieces and everything and everyone around you carries on with life. How can the birds continue to sing? How can people carry on loving life? It is like you have become frozen in time and are now watching life like a movie. As the weeks and months roll by, life becomes more real again, but you will never forget that point in time where life stood still.” -Zoe Clark-Coates
What is grief?
Grief is a feeling of deep sorrow that is often associated with the death of a loved one. Grief can also include any loss resulting in emotional suffering including divorce or the ending of a relationship, loss of health, losing a job, retirement, loss of safety after a trauma, moving, and more. The pain of loss can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed, distraught, and even lost.
For years the process of grieving has been associated with the five stages of grief.
- Denial and Isolation
As we have gathered more information, we have altered the way we view grief from a linear process to more of an intertwined web of symptoms (as seen in the picture below).
Photo retrieved from: https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/
Due to the unique individual experience of grief, there is no set amount of time for one given symptom. One day we might feel a burst of anger and the next a wave of acceptance. Some might go through the process of grieving without ever experiencing all five “stages of grief”.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison
Sadly, there is no concrete formula that can help us to understand grief. The process of grieving is messy, confusing, frustrating, and at times, overwhelming. What we do have is community, resources, and an ever-growing pool of information to help along the way.
Am I experiencing grief?
- Have you recently experienced a loss?
- Are you experiencing feelings of emptiness, numbness, overwhelming sadness, or guilt?
- Are you having difficulty sleeping?
- Have you noticed a change in appetite?
- Are you finding you are remaining isolated or avoiding social engagement?
If you answered yes to the above questions, you might be experiencing grief. These are just a few of the many symptoms associated with grief (Additional symptoms are listed in the chart below).
Grief can present itself in many ways, none of which are right or wrong. The individualized experience of grief can be comforting as well as lonely. On the one hand, there is a reason for the way we feel, which can provide a sense of understanding. On the other, we may feel that no one could ever understand what we are experiencing. Both differing from one another, yet entirely accurate within a grieving process. No one can ever truly understand what others are experiencing, even if they have experienced a similar loss. What can be understood are common feelings associated with the grieving process and the impossible feeling it leaves with us.
What can I do?
I am sure some of us are thinking, “What do you mean, what can I do? Nothing is going to make this better. Nothing is going to take this pain away!” And again, you are 100% correct! There is no magical trick or tool that will make this pain disappear, and that can often leave us feeling helpless and stuck. And what better time to focus on what is within our control than a time when we feel we have none? By pulling from what is within our control, we can help to ease the pain and learn how to adjust to our new version of life after loss.
Some things that are in our control include:
- Recognizing that you are grieving and it is painful!
- Understanding that the process of grieving is very unique to each individual.
- Building awareness of what it is we are feeling and finding appropriate outlets to help meet our needs.
- Continuing to care for ourselves (i.e., showering, eating, sleeping, socializing) even when we feel we are unable.
- Reaching out to support systems.
- Educating ourselves on available resources.
- Support groups in the area.
- Seeking a counselor.
You are NOT ALONE!
If you or someone you know is experiencing grief, you don’t have to go through it alone! Here at Inner Courage Counseling, it is our goal to not only provide information and resources but also to help guide you through what feels like an impossible time.
Visit the link below to request an appointment today!
By Chelsea Bogda, LPC | July 30, 2019