Hey all. I missed you last week.
So today I want to talk about what is maybe not so obvious a facet of wellness. I’m going to guess that you already know that wellness includes how to deal with sickness and injury. There are “do’s” and “don’ts” to recovering from illness, and methods to rehab from injury. But how do you deal with emotional loss, grief and bereavement? How you deal with the loss of a loved one can directly impact your overall wellness. So, what are the rules?
First off, there are no hard and fast rules. How you handle loss may be completely different from the person next to you. But there are some general guidelines, which can help if you are truly at a loss. That’s what I want to put out there today. It’s not a direct route, but maybe just a map, with options.
When you lose someone you love, you experience bereavement, which literally means “to be deprived by death. Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss. Mourning may include religious traditions honoring the dead or gathering with friends and family to share your loss. Mourning is personal and may last months or years. Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically. For instance, crying is a physical expression. It is very important to allow yourself to express these feelings. Often, loss of a loved one is a subject that is avoided, ignored or denied. At first it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain, but someday those feelings will need to be resolved or they may cause physical or emotional damage.
Children who experience a major loss may grieve differently than adults. Limited understanding and an inability to express feelings puts very young children at a special disadvantage. Young children may revert to earlier behaviors (such as bed-wetting), ask questions about the deceased that seem insensitive, invent games about dying or pretend that the death never happened.
Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.
The five stages of grief
1) Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
2) Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
3) Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
4) Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
5) Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages—and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in. Kübler-Ross herself never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who mourns. In her last book before her death in 2004, she said of the five stages of grief: “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical issues, including:
• Lowered immunity
• Weight loss or weight gain
• Aches and pains
So, how do you deal?
• Turn to friends and family members. Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Yeah, I’m one of these..
• Accept that many people feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who’s grieving. Grief can be a confusing, sometimes frightening emotion for many people, especially if they haven’t experienced a similar loss themselves. However awkward it may be, if a friend or loved one reaches out to you, it’s because they care.
• Draw comfort from your faith. If you follow a religious tradition or spiritual belief system, activities that are meaningful to you—such as praying, meditating, or going to church—can offer solace.
• Join a support group. Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help.
• Talk to a therapist or grief counselor. If your grief feels like too much to bear, an experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving
OK, that’s all I’ve got. Basically, grief and dealing with loss is a personal thing. As long as you aren’t actively hurting yourself or others, your method of coping is probably just as valid as any other. But, if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it (GUYS!). Look out for each other. Share the Love, peeps.