Living Through Loss

Posted on May 18, 2011. Filed under: Medical, Psychology |


Usually words can’t comfort the grieving. Just being there in silence or listening is comforting. Nothing can change what has happened but being with the bereaved is the best we can do. The bereaved need companions who will truly listen and perhaps do some of the small, everyday things that need doing–mowing the lawn, changing the oil in the car, preparing a meal– any number of things.

Grieving is normal and unavoidable–it is a part of life, and it takes time. We don’t get over it, we get through it. Going through grief is a series of stages: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance, which is the first step. You must come to terms with your loss and accept that it is real and permanent.

The stages of grief are not necessarily in this order, but it usually takes one or two years, or sometimes 4, 5 or more years for a person to work through the loss of a child or spouse, as well as a divorce. The loss of a job, home, health, all require a significant amount of time to work through. There is no time frame. We can’t control the process and this makes us feel vulnerable and sensitive to outside stimuli. It needs to takes its natural course because if we try to deny our grief and keep our emotions bottled up inside, this can lead to chronic depression or physical illness.

Recent research indicates that some kind of ceremonial farewell is helpful in aiding the bereaved to adjust to the death of someone close. We must acknowledge publicly and formally that something significant has happened or we may find more difficulty in the grieving process. During the grieving process, it’s normal to cry, lose your appetite, and withdraw socially. Eventually instead of living moment-to-moment with our deep feeling of sadness, we will experience these feelings intermittently. Then we can think about getting back to work, resuming our social life, doing our routine daily tasks again, such as cleaning house, paying the bills, caring for the children–even if we sometimes have to ask for help from a friend or relative.

It’s a good idea to keep a journal of one’s thoughts and feelings, or write letters to the one who has died, or write a story of your memories, or write poetry. Grief can be expressed through painting or sculpture, or by participating in whatever you are proficient in doing. Perhaps sewing or woodworking–perhaps starting a project that will help others. Spend time outdoors in a park or at the seashore. Being in touch with nature can be both healing and restorative. It’s important to retain our friendships because feelings of alienation and abandonment are part of the grieving process.

The best method of fighting these feelings is to look for others to console. The person who has gone through the loss of a loved one is uniquely qualified and best able to understand others going through the same pain. Spending time with people who have undergone a similar loss can be very therapeutic. You discover how natural your emotions are that you go through during the grieving process. You can receive moral support and learn from the experiences and the ideas of others. Support groups are not for everyone but many people swear by them.

Taking care of your health is an important part of getting through your loss. Some physical problems, such as insomnia, loss of appetite, muscle tenseness, are to be expected. Avoid becoming overly tired, get enough rest and sleep, eat nutritious meals, find support, hope and comfort from something you have faith in or are interested in, and life will be better. Avoid making major decisions and changes in your life, as routine and familiarity with your surroundings give you a feeling of stability and permanence when you feel in chaos.

The scriptures state; A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. The time of weeping and mourning will be over. When we are able to form new relationships, perhaps love again, we are on the road to recovery. You can pick up the pieces and go on, the wound heals but the scar remains.

Margot B

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