How can we identify the symptoms of grief? Below are some telltale signs that either you or someone close to you may be experiencing the symptoms of grief and what you can do about it. Click Here!
When people lose their loved ones, what follows is a series of reactions, all of which occur differently and for varying periods depending on a person. There is never a pure guess as to what comes after that, but the only common factor is that we eventually learn to live with the loss over time.
Much as death be a natural life process that we will all succumb to, one thing remains, we will never be prepared enough, and it’s for this reason that the death of someone close still gives us a terrible blow! The fact that we will never have a chance to see or speak to them is something not easily swept under the carpet.
We will portray varying emotional, physical and behavioural grief symptoms and how to identify the symptoms of grief is vitally important, all of which are not experienced to the same level by each individual. Whereas some people would rather cry, others would rather keep to themselves. At the end of the day though, it is important to note that we still need each other to survive, as is the norm is the human beings. This universality o survive is the driving force behind us wanting to help in whichever way possible.
Perhaps you wonder why we want to talk about this? We at the Holy Bookshop, from experience, came to realize that togetherness is important towards healing from grief. Two hands are better than one. This is a very difficult time that any sort of help may all someone needs to sail through.
Many a time too, the society lacks proper ways of handling people who are grieved. People tend to distance themselves out of lacking the right things to say or not knowing what to do. We highlight some of the steps someone can take following an explanation of the symptoms of grief.
Yeah, we also have a number of poems suitable for dads, moms, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunties, friends, to mention but a few, which might be handy for their funeral or memorial services. It might not be much, but we sure know they are effective in comforting and consoling mourners to an incredible level.
The Emotional grief symptoms
Guilt- we have a tendency of feeling like we should have done more to make the deceased stay longer or that we played a part in their untimely demise. The feeling is worse if at the time of death we didn’t have a good relationship with the deceased.
Anger- death leaves us angry for lack of the ability to protect our loved ones from succumbing to it. The feeling is on another level when the deceased is a child- a part of the parent simply dies too for not being protective of the child as is required.
Fear- a fear of the unknown gets hold of us for we are left to face an uncertain feature all by ourselves. The demise of a loved one shows us the reality of us having to face death someday even if we do not know when this will occur.
Sadness- pain and loneliness gradually pave way for sadness, more so when one has really accepted the loss. The reality of never being able to talk or meet them gradually creeps in.
Relief- knowing that the deceased has found rest and is leading a life better and stress-free as opposed to the one on earth brings some sense of relief, making their death appear as a source of comfort and refuge.
Numbness- sometimes the whole body simply caves in, unable to function at all. Nothing makes sense even for the body, as a result of the shock of the loss of a loved one.
Loneliness- goes without a blink the vacuum left by the loss of a dear one, everything you would do with them, the places you would visit together, the meals you would share- one is simply left to attend to them alone.
Vulnerability- this covers the emotional triggers. You might come across several instances that throws the reality of the situation your way, awakening the wound caused by death.
Irritability- out of the emotional imbalance that death brings, it might be difficult to react normally as expected to certain situations. Sometimes the bereaved simply overreact, and subconsciously, to situations that might seem minor.
Abandonment- the death of a loved one makes people feel like they are now all by themselves. Despite the words of comfort and consolation, no one can really occupy the place left by a dear one- we are never replicas of each other. Instead, people only learn to adjust to a life without them.
The physical grief symptoms
These physical symptoms of grief may take effect immediately or start showing after some time for others. They are in most cases a trickle effect of the emotional side effects of grieving. For instance, sadness and loneliness may lead to an inability to sleep which in turn causes fatigue.
The best way of combating these physical grief symptoms is by exercising as is explained in the last section of this article.
Weight loss or gain
Joint, chest, and abdominal pain
Dryness of the throat
The behavioural grief symptoms
It is important to note these symptoms so that we are not hard on ourselves or victimize the bereaved should they show signs of them. The hard truth regarding them still being that one may not be aware that they are actually suffering from them, but once they take note, they easily learn to manage.
Incapacity to think well
Longing to always talk about the deceased
Dreaming about the deceased, which could also involve daydreaming
Attempts to search for the deceased
The social grief symptoms
Withdrawal from people or a tendency to avoid them
Being too sensitive
Being dependent on others
Lacking interest in most of the things being done around somebody
Lacking the initiative to partake expected duties
How then, do you deal with these grief symptoms, or assist someone who is equally suffering from them?
Being patient with the grieving process.
There is no shelf life for grief, so do not worry if it takes you two years yet your friend managed within months. There is simply no time frame. We handle grief differently based on our ages, cause of death, type of relationship with the deceased, and your personality.
Admitting to and respecting your emotions.
The common emotional challenges of grief – pain, anger, guilt, denial and fear- are experienced to varying extents and periods depending on each individual, and may not be necessarily systematic. You should let them flow as naturally as they come, otherwise, you might prolong the process of recovering from grief.
Sometimes long after one is considered better, you will still get scenarios where your emotions are overwhelming and you probably feel like crying, probably because they have been triggered by things like holidays. Do not worry, loss of a dear one takes time to accept and live with. We only feel lighter with time, having mastered ways of dealing with their memories and these emotions.
Seeking help, professional or otherwise.
Not all of us react to situations like would be expected. To some, death brings such a terrible blow that it would require professionals to steer us back to our normal selves. Where you are not able to manage on your own, you could seek help from doctors and counsellors. Doctors can prescribe medication and control its use where necessary while counsellors will give the therapy needed in learning how to manage and cope with the loss of a dear one.
Accepting help from those around you.
It is common during grieving, to come across people requesting to offer assistance with things like making a memorial or funeral arrangements, cooking, or cleaning the house, and kids where applicable. The focus should shift from looking at this as an act out of pity, but rather as very necessary owing to the disorientation brought about by grief.
You should not be hard on yourself, remember the body needs extra energy to manage the effects of losing a loved one on top of driving its mandated functions, so an extra pair of hands would do just fine.
Talking to people
This is vital when you have overcome grief. You have to learn to strike a balance between spending some time alone, and some of it around people. Talking to people might not only help you but can also come in handy for a fellow who is similarly grieving within your circle and in need of a shoulder to lean on.
Take note, you should do this when you are ready, but do not prolong the silence as it gets you to the depression state.
If however, you find it uncomfortable talking to the people around you, there is the option of professional counsellors, especially in extreme conditions. This group knows how to get you talk and will also give you guidance on some of the tips for managing grief in a cool way.
Support group? This is yet another forum which you can join and have discussions while seeking solutions to a common issue. You also stand a chance to learn ways through which other people are managing a similar condition and might borrow a leaf or two.
Having enough rest.
Goes without saying that the body needs time to rejuvenate, which only happens when you rest. This can be done sleeping or just relaxing on a sofa alone, probably listening to music or simply seated quietly. Rest taken through sleeping is important as it helps an individual to manage their hunger, improves the body’s immune system, helps retain one’s memory, and decreases chances of getting sick. It is recommended that a person sleeps for at least 7 to 8 hours in a night.
There are a number of exercises that you can do ranging from less physical to very intense ones, both of which will still give you the desired results. Just do what you find comfortable, be it intensive or less involving.
Exercising has a number of benefits necessary for managing grief to include,
i. It positively impacts your moods while reducing stress, anxiety and depression associated to losing a loved one, making you happier. In a study that was conducted to ascertain this, 24 men considered healthy and accustomed to regularly exercising were told to halt for 14 days- during this period, they reported a significant increase in negative moods.
ii. It helps in weight reduction. Weight gain is not common during grieving, but some people who turn to eating to preoccupy themselves will experience it. Exercising can help reverse this.
iii. Your muscles and bones stand to feel good. Exercising stimulates the production of hormones which enables the intake of amino acids by the muscles.
iv. Increased energy levels. We all need energy to function well, be it thinking, talking or just moving about, especially during grieving. In a study on 36 people who had been complaining of continued feeling of fatigue, it was discovered that the feeling subsided following 6 weeks of monitored exercise.
v. Improved brain functioning and memory. Exercising increases the heart rate thereby promoting blood and oxygen flow to the brain, and stimulates production of hormones which are required for brain cells growth. And this is one of the very areas that grieving people need help to overcome, to enable them make decisions as required.
vi. Improved relaxation and sleeping. In a study, it was found out that exercising for 1 and ½ hours in a week results to a 65% increase in quality of sleep. Exercising makes one sleep better and feel energized during the day.
vii. Pain management. We all know the pain that comes with losing a loved one. Isn’t it winsome that exercising helps in increasing one’s ability to tolerate pain while decreasing your perception of pain?
Eating well and drinking water
‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’, understood literally or otherwise. The grieving process further requires additional energy owing to the movements and pressure the body is exposed to. You need to take care of the body by drinking enough water and eating well and regularly to avoid falling ill.
There is a buzz of activities that come immediately upon the death of a loved one, that deprives people of the time to cook and eat. You can request assistance with such, at least until everything goes back to normal.
Avoid overdoing anything
Too much of something is bad, so is too much keeping to yourself, too much crying, too much eating, too much sleeping, or perhaps too much thinking. Should you find certain emotions uncontrollable, seeking the help of professional counsellors will be quite helpful.
In grieving, it is common to find oneself drained in a certain act, maybe drinking alcohol or oversleeping to escape from the reality of the pain of losing a loved one. These are temporary solutions, and to which you might be exposed to the risk of addiction if not well handled. Doctors may prescribe tranquillizers in certain cases after careful observation. The best option, however, is to naturally flow with emotions taking care not to get stuck at a given point for too long.
Indulging in your normal routine activities
These activities include praying, taking shower, eating, and sleeping. It is never easy to do them normally, but pushing yourself to do them is helpful in your healing process.
You can also incorporate new activities into your routines to break the monotony and give you the zeal to do them.
Making necessary changes where appropriate.
This covers everything around you, and advisable for the purposes of healing. You might find a number of things that you are used to being the ones that deprive you of the happiness that you so yearn for.
It could be the food you eat, the music you listen to, the places you visit, the people you talk to, the clothes you wear, the movies you watch, to mention but a few. Are you okay, or is there something that you wish to avoid for now or start doing, as you embark on the healing journey?
Appropriately planning for weekends or holidays.
Traversing weekends and holidays has proven to be an uphill task, for the young and elderly alike. It is quite an emotionally confusing moment, which tears between being happy and celebrating, and being sad that you have to go through it without the deceased.
Holidays are emotional triggers and should be approached with care. List down the activities that you might enjoy doing, always having a backup plan should you find one too overwhelming to do.
You can check on our (20 Useful Tips for Copying with loss during holidays) for more tips on dealing with holidays during grief.
Avoid making major decisions during this period.
The death of a loved one brings about heart wrecking pain which renders one unable to think well. Most of the time in the grieving process, the human brain is preoccupied with thoughts of how the future will be and memories of the past as you try to come to terms with the loss. For that reason, it is advisable to stay clear of major decisions till we are back to our normal selves. This might take either a short or a long while depending on individual personality.
You can rely on the people around you to help with making key decisions and taking care of you or even your kids if in a family situation.
Making time to quietly sit by yourself.
Some quiet time alone works the magic of understanding your feelings and emotions and commencing the healing process. It is at this point that you are allowed to cry or sing or listen to some music to enable you to let go of the pressure that you would otherwise not be able to do in the company of others.
In attempts to establish the importance of spending time alone, a survey was conducted on 18000 people originating from 134 countries. They were issued with a lengthy list of activities and told to rank them based on the ones they found most restful. It is amazing to note that spending some quiet time alone made it to the top five, in the 3rd position after reading and interacting with nature.
Spending time alone is very important for our emotional wellness even during the grieving period.
Being around people
Much as you be recommended to always find some me time to reflect and meditate for yourself, do not also forget the fact that the people around you equally matter. You can never tell who needs a shoulder to cry on, so by being there, you might be the source of encouragement that they need. Remember grief affects even those who are close to you too?
Being around people also provides a sense of warmth and togetherness in the pain being endured. Two fingers are better than one. You will not only share the pain but also reminisces about the happy memories while talking about ways that each of you deals with the grief and give each other tips for coping with it.
The above-mentioned tips work differently for different people; you can always employ an alternative if one is not working as desired. The most important thing to note is that one should go at their own pace. There is never a predetermined period for grieving, any specification as to what time it should be over. We only offer steps that can help in making it easier to overcome as you learn to live with the loss.
The Holy Bookshop has a collection of verses, quotes, and poems both long and short, religious and non-religious which you can select from and can help ease the pain of losing a loved one. We also have a number of grief related articles which can be helpful when you or someone close to you needs assistance with understanding and managing grief as indicated herein.
Now that you have been able to identify the symptoms of grief you may be searching for the answer of what to do about it. Simply Click Here!