Grief and Loss
Grief is a common emotion. It’s a natural, internal feeling triggered in response to a loss. Bereavement is the period of mourning that follows the loss of something dear.
When someone hears the terms grief and loss, they typically think of someone that died. However, any difficult loss such as job loss, loss of a living situation, loss of a relationship or loss of a dream can certainly activate the grief response.
Prolonged grief is the response to a loss that lasts for a year or more and can impact the sufferer’s own health and close relationships. Those grief-stricken can be at greater risk for major depression, high anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The seven stages of grief are believed to be (1) shock/disbelief, (2) denial, (3) bargaining, (4) guilt, (5) anger, (6) depression, and (7) acceptance/hope. These stages are linear so experiencing one doesn’t mean it won’t be experienced again later. The symptoms of grief can be physical, emotional or social.
It’s not about getting past the experience. Getting past a painful loss doesn’t align to what the sufferer wants to do. Guilt for not moving on and guilt for not wanting to move on often lead to more despair while adding an element of confusion.
It’s more about getting through a loss. Being able to develop effective coping strategies so they can gain strength from the loss is key. Coping with loss doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. Accepting it can build the inner strength of resiliency through vulnerability.
When weak, many will look to replace the loss in some way – a new job, finding friends, a pet, or volunteering help by way of connection. Putting ourselves out there goes a long way to healing ourselves. The experience of grief and loss can be a story yet untold to help someone else along the way.
For those going through this difficult experience, you’re not alone though it may feel like you are. What you lost is never truly gone. It’s an internal part of you. It may not feel like it now, but the pain and suffering can empower you and others.