Grief is a natural response typically felt by some sort of loss, whether it be a death, a failed relationship, a loss of job, etc., everyone experiences it. It is usually experienced with a variety of different emotions like sadness or loneliness. Understanding your emotions and learning how to deal with them in a healthy way will help to overcome grief. While everyone copes with and feels grief differently, there are many different ways to get help with the stages of grief.
Stages of Grief
Medical professionals have determined that there are five stages of grief. However, individuals handle the stages of grief differently; it is difficult to avoid the stages of grief. These stages are:
- Denial– Known as the first stage of loss, often times people deny or want to believe the situation that happened, did not happen. It is typically a short-lived stage, and the best way to cope with it is to come to terms with the situation you are in.
- Anger– As you begin to come with terms of reality and your situation, you feel immense amounts of anger. It could be directed towards others or just anger towards life in general. While being angry during grief is ordinary, learning to accept what happens will help one move to the next stage of grief.
- Bargaining– This is the stage where you question the situation and wonder what could have been done differently. The individual will often think of actions he or she did or fail to do that might have affected the circumstances of his or her grief.
- Depression– While some people will not go as far as feeling depression over the situation, others will begin to show signs of depression. Sadness is a major natural response to grief and once it is overcome, the stages of grief are almost over.
- Acceptance– The fifth and final stage of grief is where the reality of what happened to cause grief is finally accepted. While there still may be feelings of sadness or loneliness, you will be continuing on with your everyday routine.
Coping with Grief: Different Ways to Handle Your situation
While many people choose unhealthy ways to cope with grief, like not taking care of their mental health and even substance addiction, there are alternative options to choose from. These alternative options may not completely numb the emotions and feelings of grief, but they can provide relief in a much safer and healthier way. The different ways to handle grief are:
1. Reaching Out
Talking to family members, friends, coworkers, or even a therapist is one of the best ways to overcome grief and the stages that come with it. Talking with someone about what you may be feeling will help you get insight into how they might deal with grief.
2. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Grief is a sad, almost painful emotion to experience and choosing drugs and alcohol will potentially make the situation worse. Drug and Alcohol addiction is an issue that can come from not handling grief in a healthy way. Seeking out a healthier and less destructive way to cope with grief is beneficial to you and those around you.
3. Use Your Creativity
Feelings like anger, sadness and frustration can be alleviated by activities such as crafting, drawing, painting, etc. Being creative, or finding a healthy hobby can help you work through the problems you are facing with the loss you are experiencing.
Traveling can not only be relaxing and exciting, but can be a great way to cope with grief. While some might compare it to running away with your problems; it can actually kick start your life in the right direction. It can help remind you of the blessings you have in life, and keep you from dwelling on the hardships you have faced.
5. Personal Care
When experiencing a loss that is causing grief, sometimes you lose track of your personal care. You forget to do the soothing activities that you did before that brought so much joy and comfort. You can feel much better by simply taking a bubble bath, putting on a face mask, getting your nails done, or even taking a day off from work.
Exercise releases endorphins that are often times referred to as the “happy chemicals.” Whether it be running, walking, or lifting weights, it allows your minds to focus on one activity. It can relieve any stress you may be feeling, and allows you to work out your problems and emotions in a healthy way. It is a time for reflection that can drive away any negative thoughts.
Bringing honor to the person, item, or even place that you lost could be the exact activity needed to get past the five stages of grief. It is a great way to keep the memory and love alive without feeling saddened by the incident. It can help you keep a connection with whatever was lost without fully having to say goodbye.
8. Being Excited about The Future
While losing someone or something may feel like your world is falling apart, looking forward to all of the exciting experiences ahead of you could put an end to your grief. As hard as it might seem to find some good in a bad situation; it is crucial to avoid health problems, mental health problems and drug or alcohol addiction.
What Happens If Grief Is Not Handled Correctly
If grief is not handled correctly, it can take a toll on every aspect of your life. If you do not find healthy ways to cope with grief, it can begin to cause problems with your emotional, mental, and even physical health. Grief will manifest itself in many different forms, if not handled correctly it can cause extreme depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. Another common sign of grief is extreme tiredness, which means even the smallest task you feel tired. Furthermore, signs of long-term grief include:
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- The sense of being alone
- Depression and substance abuse
- Heart health and immunity
While some of these symptoms are small and others are quite large problems, they all affect our overall health. In fact, according to psychologist and writer Catherine M, Sanders, PhD, if one does not properly care for the grief, the body can even begin to copy symptoms of the flu.
It is crucial to confront your grief, no matter how hard, to avoid problems that can come from it. Taking charge of your grief, your mental balance, emotional well-being, and physical health is the best way to live a long, happy life.