Coping with grief can be challenging. Learn the best coping tips and discover more information on grief. Plus, find out how talk therapy can help.
Grief: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Coping Tips, & Getting Therapy
Every day, many people experience grief. How it manifests physically, emotionally, and behaviorally is different for everyone. There is also no standard time for how long grief lasts.
If you are looking to learn more about grief, this article explores this topic in-depth, providing you with all the useful information you need to know. Importantly, we tell you why it’s beneficial to seek professional support and how text therapy can help.
What Is Grief?
Grief is a natural reaction to the loss of a loved one or any other valuable thing. The pain of losing someone or something can be pretty overwhelming, causing you to experience an array of emotions, e.g., disbelief, anger, sadness, shock, etc.
Most of the time, grief is intense and will tend to hang over around you for a long time. The pain of grief can cause rapid changes in your physical and emotional states. And while grief is closely associated with overwhelming sadness, grief can also make you numb or disconnected/withdrawn.
What Does Cause Grief?
The death of a loved one is often the cause of grief. However, other losses can also lead to it. These include:
- Breaking up with a romantic partner
- Loss of good health
- Loss of a job
- Death of a pet
- A miscarriage
- Loss of a cherished dream
- End of a friendship
- Selling a family house
As you can see, grief does not necessarily entail the death of another person. The loss of anything valuable for you can trigger grief.
What Are the Symptoms of Grief?
The symptoms of grief fall into different categories. These are:
Shock, anger, and bitterness, numbness, irritability are typical emotional symptoms of grief. You can also experience intense sadness, despair, detachment, guilt, anxiety, and fear.
It is common for people with grief to ruminate over their past events or things connected with a loved one or missteps regarding various things. They can also experience worry, fantasies, sleep disorders, and intrusive memories.
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When you have grief, you will notice physical symptoms such as tiredness, chest pain, headaches, and digestive problems. You might also have unexplained weight loss and weight gain.
It’s common for people struggling with grief to isolate themselves, withdraw, lose motivation in daily activities, and focus on reminders of the loved one.
Stages of Grief
A psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced5 stages of grief. Her grieving process entailed these stages:
- Denial: At this stage, the person views the loss as a mistake or unreal event. They constantly go out of their way to deny the loss that has happened.
- Anger: Out of frustration, a grieving person can vent out. They may blame people they consider to be related to the loss, e.g., medical caregivers or even themselves.
- Bargaining: At this stage, the grieving person bargains for a better outcome.
- Depression: The grieving person despairs, becomes incredibly saddened, isolates, and exhibits other depression symptoms.
- Acceptance: The final stage of grief, where a person accepts the loss and gradually attains personal peace and calm.
6 Practical Tips for Coping with Grief and Loss
Need some tips for dealing with grief? Here are 8 things you can consider.
- Accept Your Feelings
When grieving, you will experience many intense emotions and symptoms. All of these are normal, and it would be best if you took note of each experience. This way, it becomes easier for you to cope with your feelings and emotions and find ways to manage them.
- Grieve for as Long as Long as You Need
Allow yourself to grieve for as long as you need. Refrain from capping your grieving time to ensure that you heal properly. You might need even years for that.
- Experience Grief on Your Terms, Do Not Compare
You may find yourself comparing your grief with other people you shared a loved one with and then judging yourself. You may also begin to compare yourself with other people who’ve experienced the loss of a loved one by reading their blogs on social media.
Looking for the “right” way to grieve by comparing yourself with others is often unhelpful and may make matters worse.
The need to look at others for guidance is often natural. However, comparison can cause self-reproach for not overcoming the pain of your loss as quickly as someone else. Fight the urge to compare, accepting that your grief is unique, as is everybody else’s.
- Let Your Grief Be
Grieving is a painful process. So, it’s understandable that you would want to run, hide, or push these emotions away from your mind. However, by fighting these feelings, you inevitably train your mind to see them as threats. Your mind then triggers panic/anxiety whenever you feel similar emotions in the future.
The healthy way to grieve is to allow yourself to feel the overwhelming sadness and pain. That is, make a deliberate effort to grieve. Be willing to experience your grief so that you can manage it.
- Find Good Social Support
One of the best-given pieces of advice for coping with grief is usually to seek a support system by:
- Talking with a close friend or family member
- Sharing your emotions with a therapist
- Finding a support group
Talking about your grief is usually vital at some phase in the grieving period. However, you can also spend quality time with people and connect with them, especially if you’re not ready to talk.
Grief involves intimate emotions and if you don’t feel like sharing your feelings with others yet, don’t feel pressured. Instead, you could meet people and just socialize and have a great time together.
- Allow Yourself to Take in All the Feelings
While grief is mostly about feeling sad about losing someone or something dear, it not the only emotion you’ll feel. Grief can take a long time, and during this period, you’ll experience different emotions and feelings.
The important thing is not to put certain expectations on what you should feel about yourself. Instead, let yourself be and feel whatever you feel even if you don’t like it:
- Celebrate the Life of Your Dear One
You can choose to celebrate your loved one’s life by doing something they loved. If they loved to take care of animals, you could direct your efforts towards animal rescue/protection organizations. If they spent time helping out the community, you could start a community initiative in their name.
When to Seek Professional Help for Grief
When you begin to heal and accept the loss, feelings of numbness, pain, and sadness will slowly fade. You won’t forget your loved one but memories of them won’t elicit pain anymore.
However, even with the above tips on how to deal with grief, sometimes grief doesn’t fade away. Denial, intense yearning, bitterness/anger, constant thoughts of your loved one, and other feelings of grief may pervade long after the loss.
In this case, or if you just want to talk about your feelings, you may need grief counseling. A grief therapist can help you face, understand, and overcome the intense, confusing, and challenging emotions associated with grief.
Online therapy, which you can try on Calmerry, is a good option as it offers the flexibility and effective support you need.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has been working in healthcare since 2017. She mainly treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, grief, identity, relationship, and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience is focused on individual and group counseling.
Follow Kate here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-skurat-5348381b9/