Losing a loved one can change your entire outlook on life and the world around you. Amid a global pandemic where the world is experiencing collective grief, you might also feel as if your grief has consumed you. However, you have every right to feel emotions of sadness, anger, and loneliness. Understand that there is no right or wrong way to mourn, though it is encouraging to remember that while you might feel lost amid a grieving world, you should also know that you are not alone in feeling this way.
You should not pressure yourself to think like you need to feel a certain way, grief is often unpredictable, and sometimes emotions have a way of sneaking up on you. While there is no exact science for how to grieve, there are healthier ways to help you cope with losing a loved one.
Adapting to Loss
Research suggests that you should allow yourself to grieve in your own way and time. This is because people have unique ways of expressing emotions. For example, you might express your feelings by participating in activities rather than talking about them. If you find that actions and movement help you cope, consider going for walks, biking, or exercising at home. You might also take up writing or painting.
However, if you prefer to talk your emotions out, seek a trusted family member or friend. Let them know what you need from them, whether that is advice for coping with grief or just a shoulder to cry on at the moment. These outlets allow you to express yourself in healthier ways instead of indulging in harmful activities like self-medicating to cope with or other addictive pursuits such as gambling, shopping, and comfort eating.
It is also okay to smile and laugh. Studies have shown that people who express a broader range of emotions that might not typically be associated with loss, such as smiling and laughing, have helped them cope well with the loss. Emotions are unpredictable, and thinking you have to feel a certain way after loss limits you the full range of expression. It is okay to laugh when something is funny or smile when something makes you feel good. It is not a matter of whether you should suppress or express, but allowing the emotion to happen when the situation calls for it.
Letting Go and Learning
Grief is about letting go and accepting the loss and learning how to live with it, however hard. Adapting to loss is being able to accept its finality and understand what it means to you. Finding a way to envision your life with possibilities for happiness and honoring your loved ones helps you begin to rebuild your life. Helping to find the most important connections with the loved one you lost can help you co-exist with pain and grief instead of avoiding it or letting it become a burden. Learning how to function with grief enables you to form emotional resilience and look at what is most important in your life.
Types of Grief
If you are experiencing prolonged grief, you will likely find it harder to adapt to the loss of a loved one. This kind of suffering is known as complicated grief, and it tends to come with certain types of thinking patterns. These patterns could include thinking that death did not need to happen to this person or in the way that it did. You might also focus on grief itself and avoid looking at the reminders of loss. Thinking this way becomes unhealthy because it encourages you to neglect your thoughts and feelings.
However, specific therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can help get to the source of your thoughts. Pursuing such treatments enables you to identify the thoughts, feelings, and actions that get in the way of adapting to the loss. They also help you focus on strengthening the process in your ability to adapt to loss. These therapies can help you overcome the post-traumatic emotions attached to the loss and reduce feelings of anger, anxiety, stress, and depression with consistent practice.
Another type of grief is when you feel your loved one's loss before they have passed on. It is known as anticipatory grief and can hinder the quality of the time you have with the loved one while this person is alive. It is common if the person is sick or you have been a long-term caregiver. However, you may still feel sad about the changes you are going through and the losses you anticipate.
While more studies continue to understand grief and help people cope further, there are effective available resources to help you today. If you have just undergone the recent loss of a loved one or have been trying to cope for years, it may be time to seek help. At START UP RECOVERY, we work to find you the support network you need to take care of yourself and accept others' help. Our goal is to teach you that hope is never lost, and if you have not yet found what works for you, it does not mean that hope doesn't exist. There is always a source of strength and hope available for any situation. Choose START UP RECOVERY and begin your journey to transformation and living the life you deserve. With 24/7 admissions, there is never a wrong time to call. Get started on your journey today by calling (310) 773-3809.