Coping with Grief and Loss

Coping with grief and loss is tough but with the right information, you can sail through. This article is not about the right or wrong way to deal with grief, neither is it about the best way to deal with grief. Rather, it is about healthy ways to handle grief. It’s about how I successfully coped with the loss of a close family member four years ago. Every December, I remember her because she died few days to Christmas but when she was alive, we were close to a fault, so, her death after a brief illness, jolted me. It shocked me to the bones and marrow. And it came at a time my husband had travelled for an out-station assignment, so, I was alone and the grief was so much that I couldn’t sleep for two days in a row. I experienced strange palpitations in my chest anytime I remembered the incident. Yes, it was that bad but I pulled through and if you’re going through a similar situation, I can wholeheartedly tell you, you’ll pull through.

List of Life Situations that Cause Grief

  • Loss of Job
  • Divorce or Marriage Breakup
  • Death of a Loved One
  • Death of a Pet
  • Terminal Illness of a Loved One
  • Loss of a Friendship
  • Loss of Financial Security and many others

How I Coped with My Grief

Even though we have different coping mechanisms, I coped with my grief through the following ways:

  • I blogged about it. It was a very effective way for me to release my pent-up emotions and the words of comfort that blog readers posted, helped me in no small way. This made me feel better and wanted (I felt I was not alone and that was all I needed at that point in time).
  • I requested for help; I did not pretend to be a super woman. I told people around me to help me with prayers and this really helped as I saw a ring of support around me.
  • I switched into gratitude mode and realised that even though the deceased had lived a short life, it was an impactful one, going by the testimonies of people after her death. This gave me a bit of consolation, knowing that she had lived well.
  • Still in the gratitude mode, I just started thanking God for sparing her the agony of being bedridden for months. Taking her away to avoid pains and agony (on her part and ours) made me thank God to no end. I realised that through my pain, there was still a silver lining, which I was forever going to be grateful for.

Even though these tips worked for me, I reveal more tips below:

10 Ways to Deal with Grief

  • Engage in Many Hobbies: This will take your mind off the grief, though not totally, but will make you know there is life after the grief. Suffice to say, doing this would make you feel better.
  • Get Support, Don’t Go It Alone: The magic this does is totally unquantifiable, so, seek and ask for support from people. You’d be amazed at the kind of support there is, only if you’d ask.
  • Write a Gratitude Journal: This would not only make you feel better, it would make you see the good in your loss and grief. You’d be able to spot one or two good things from the experience.
  • Get Spiritual: I did this and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. In my moment of grief, I sought God’s comfort and He provided it. He gave me healing for my wounded heart; I believe He can do the same for you, only if you’d call on Him.
  • Let Go of Reminders: It’s hard to do but you must let go of any thing that reminds you of the deceased or your loss of job, depending on which situation you’re in. No matter how little, get rid of anything that reminds you of your loss or grief.
  • Stay Away from Addictive Substances: When grieving, some people think indulging in alcohol, cigarettes or Indian hemp will make them forget. How wrong! Once the addictive substance clears from your system, you go back to square one. So, don’t even think about it. It’s a no-go area.
  • Offer to Help Others: Look around you for people who need help and offer to help with your time, energy, resources and even money. Doing this will make you forget your worries and determine to forge ahead in life. Also, you’d begin to see that you’re in a more privileged position, when you look at the people you’re helping. In some cases, setting up a foundation in the name of the deceased helps in no small way.
  • Don’t wish your grief away, face it: That’s one powerful way to heal. Forcing your grief away won’t help matters but when you acknowledge the pain, you’re ready to heal.
  • Take Care of your self: Watching your health by eating well (I know you won’t have the appetite, but you have to find a way to eat well), sleeping well and exercising can help you emotionally. Don’t forget the mind and body are connected; when one is in good health, the other follows suit.
  • Bonus Tip: Plan ahead for anniversaries or memorials as a flood of grief will definitely hit you but with advance preparation, you can get over it.

The Five Stages of Grief Explained

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross came up with what is now commonly known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on series of research of the feelings of patients facing life-threatening illnesses, but many people have applied them to other types of depressing life situations and losses, such as death or a break-up.

And the five stages are:

  • Outright denial ( “No, this can’t be happening to me of all people”)
  • Deep Anger (“Why Me? Why is this happening to me? Who caused this?”)
  • Serious Bargaining (“Let this not happen to me, and in return I will………”)
  • Depression and Sadness (“I’m too sad, I just can’t do anything”)
  • Full Acceptance (“No matter what has happened, I have peace and tranquility”)

If any of these emotions show up in your life following a loss, please know you’re on the path to healing. It doesn’t matter if you go through all the stages or you don’t, the most important thing is that you’re getting over your loss.

When she introduced this concept, Kübler-Ross never proposed the five stages to be a rigid framework for every grieving person. This is because some people recover from grief without going through any of those stages, while others go through the stages but in an haphazard fashion. So, don’t worry if these symptoms are not manifesting in your life. Aim towards healing because a whole new life, full of happiness and great achievements awaits you. Your loss should definitely not be the end of your life, you can (and should) get over it!

But in cases where your grief just doesn’t go away, please talk to a grief counsellor.

When There Are No Words: Finding Your Way to Cope with Loss and Grief
Amazon Price: $16.95 $7.40 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 28, 2016)
I highly recommend this book if you're suffering from grief or any form of loss. Aside easing the pain you're feeling, this book will touch you, no matter your background or spiritual outlook. It's a healing aid and grieving parents who read it gave it 5-star reviews on Amazon. I can't recommend this highly enough!