We may experience grief as a result of losing someone close to us. As is normal with losing anything in human beings, a number of emotions come to play. There is no systematic way of experiencing these emotions and predetermined length either, they all happen differently for each person when you are coping with grief.
People tend to concentrate on the emotional effects of coping with grief while forgetting to take a look at its physical side effects too. This article takes an insight into both to enable you to deal with grief, or help someone go through grieving all the same.
Denial– it is a defence methodology for human beings. Upon hearing that someone close to us is dead, no one readily accepts this fact. We keep imagining that it is a phase that will pass and that our loved one is still there. It takes time to come to terms with this painful reality.
As a result, you are likely to dream about them in your sleep. At the time, you can also daydream imagining that they are talking to you, or perhaps indulging in a given activity like would be the norm when they were still alive.
Guilt– a part of us then suddenly begin to feel like there is something that we would have done to prevent the death of a loved one. Perhaps by taking them to a better hospital, or talking to them nicely- there is just that feeling of something you would have done to make it better. We further feel the need for the deceased to bear with our inadequacies in preventing their death.
There is a sense of responsibility that we feel for the people close to us, which is sort of breached when someone passes on, making us feel like we were not good enough.
Sadness– there comes a time when the painful reality following the loss sets in. Coping with grief makes us feel so lonely, it gets us depressed. It is during this time that sleep, appetite and the energy to go on simply parts ways with one’s body.
Some people handle sadness by crying, others will simply pull away and keep to themselves, if not handled well, this can heavily cause deterioration of the physical body.
Acceptance- one learns that indeed the death of a loved one is irreversible so you have learned to live either way. The sadness that this brings is not likely to disappear, people simply learn to cope with their absence.
This may take a while, and even after you have convinced yourself that life goes on, you will still encounter situations that throw you to the emotional world, not an indicator that you haven’t moved on. Loss of a loved one is considered a permanent scar, unto which we only need to carry the beautiful memories of them.
Inability to concentrate, make decisions, and forgetfulness- this is because of the emotional effects of death that floods our minds and the related gross pain. A person is therefore not required to do such things like driving or making very major decisions at this juncture.
General body fatigue- there could be overall fatigue as a way of the body responding to the news of the demise of someone. Another cause for this could be lack of enough rest which makes the body weak and inadequate eating which deprives the body of the energy needed to drive its functions.
There is also fatigue as a result of sleeping in excess, where you deprive the body of exercising thereby leaving the joints and muscles tired. Overly thinking about death also uses one’s energy contributing to the body’s fatigue.
Insomnia or excess sleeping– following the death of a loved, some of us become so restless that even catching sleep becomes cumbersome. Instead, you find yourself lost in thoughts of memories of the deceased, or imaginations of the life ahead without them. Sometimes we are afraid of sleeping because of the dreams we have about them. Others will turn to excessive sleep for comfort, whereby sleeping keeps them away from having to live with the reality of the death of a loved one.
Loss of appetite or overeating– owing to the vast nature of human beings. Some of us will respond to death by losing the zeal to appropriately eat as a result of finding no meaning in life, sometimes we just don’t get time to eat a result of the buzz of activities that follow the death of a loved one.
Some of us respond to death-related stress by indulging in eating to get the mind away from thinking about our circumstances. We will likely not have enough of eating.
Headaches- it is proven that this can be the body’s response mechanism to very stressful news like the death of someone. A headache can also be caused by other factors like lack of enough sleep, not drinking enough water, not eating well, amongst other things.
You are mostly advised to counter this by giving the body that which you have deprived it instead of turning to medication, for such symptoms are temporary and will gradually subside.
Joint pains– this can be caused by not exercising during grief or not eating well thereby denying the body the energy needed for its functions. Another cause for this could be lack of enough sleep. Or better still oversleeping and overly thinking, which results in a change of activity patterns for the human body.
Digestion issues-this directly relates to poor eating habits during the grieving process. One does not get time to eat well, or simply eats unhealthy foods which bring digestive issues. Not only does the body need healthy foods, but also ample time to eat and digest it, not hurriedly eating or doing it super slowly till you get to a point of eating cold foods.
Staying without eating for too long consequently makes our tummies be filled with gas which is also uncomfortable and brings about bloating of the stomach, something quite common during grieving.
Anxiety and restlessness– you may experience these in equal measures, where you will also be highly irritable. Something slight could cause outrage in you, or you might find yourself pacing up or down a room, snapping your fingers or stamping your feet subconsciously.
You might also be very emotional, and something simple just triggers your tears. Worry not, these are quite normal as grieving makes it hard for us to control our emotions as is expected under normal circumstances.
Tips for effectively coping with grief
To be able to effectively cope with the above grief symptoms, you can indulge in the following.
Do not time your grieving process.
Grieving is a process that you cannot wake up one morning and shove away. It requires time to sail through the process of grieving. The time taken varies according to each person so don’t be hard on yourself. Even when you consider the pain to have subsided, you may still get overwhelmed with emotions once in a while, which is very natural.
This also applies when you are handling grieving children. Give them time, and don’t force them to do things that you feel are necessary to get them preoccupied, let them heal. Occasionally when they ask you questions pertaining to the death of a loved them, answer them as honestly as possible so that you don’t prolong their healing process. You may not want to tell them the truth, but when they learn much later, it will open the wounds a whole new. Be there for the kids for as long as they need your support.
Caring for oneself
So far one of the hardest hurdles to cross, but then very important. The turmoil caused by the demise of someone close to us makes us forget about ourselves. It could be as a result of lack of time as we are busy making burial arrangements, or lack of appetite to eat or thinking so much about it that we hardly fall asleep.
Either way, failing to do such basic things as eating and having enough sleep will only lead to our bodies deteriorating further. However difficult, we should try to have some personal care. We can call on people close to us to assist with cooking, cleaning, while we clean up ourselves at least until we are able to do so by ourselves. Having people close to us also makes us get the moral support and encouragement needed to go through the grieving process.
Talking to others
The adept English men said a problem shared is half solved. Death is something that causes such pain, you will not be judged for sharing how you feel about the loss of a loved one, it is okay. You can talk some quiet time alone, but also make time to share what you are going through with the people around you who have been equally upset by this loss.
You will be surprised to learn the ways through which others are coping with the loss, ways that you too can adapt to help you. This also ensures your availability to the people around you who might be in dire need of your support.
Your daily routines
The best way to try your strength is by going back to do the things you were used to before the demise of a loved one. This enables healing by letting you adapt to the new life without them. Well, the journey to a thousand miles begin with a step, the very step needed to forge on with life and fulfil your purpose when the time is right.
Consider going back to work or school. This further gets your mind busy and is a good distraction from burrowing yourself in thoughts related to the death of a loved one. It may not be easy at first, but with time, you will find yourself getting used to it.
Not to say, that your emotions will be completely tucked away, just find ways of channelling them when necessary. You can perhaps excuse yourself and get some fresh air like in the case of going back to work, then go back to the office when you feel better.
Seeking assistance from support groups and counsellors.
It is not strange to join support groups for people who are similarly grieving, it will be helpful in the long run. Being out there, you will realize that you are not the only unlucky one who lost a loved one, but that death being natural, equally affects others in the society regardless of their age or status.
This is a much better healing therapy than going for medication, which can be addictive in the long run. Where medication is however required, let the prescription be done by a certified physician for regulation purposes and avoid abuse.
Some extreme situations where one feels unable to even join a support group, you can enlist the help of counsellors. They usually know of ways to help people cope with grief and are readily available when called upon. For instance, you can consider counselling when you can’t stop blaming the death of a loved one on your own self, or feel that life isn’t worth living anymore following their demise.
Support during grief is really necessary.
Death makes even the bravest lose focus for a while, so how you handle the grieving process determines how well you will come out of it. It is a gentle human gesture to shift attention to the mourners, at least until they are able to stand on their two feet once again.
We at the Holy Bookshop understand your pain, the death of a loved one is not easy to come by. We have enlisted a good selection of poems which can be handy when you wish to express what you feel, or just need something that will make the whole situation appear a little lighter. We have a variety to choose from, which might be suitable for all family members, friends, and colleagues.