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Dealing with the loss of a loved one
Losing a loved one is never easy.
It rocks our world, sending everything into a spin.
The pain of losing a loved one can be overwhelming, effecting our emotional, physical and mental health.
The way in which we respond to grief is a very personal and individual experience.
Everyone grieves in different ways – there is no right way to grieve.
In this blog we delve into the impact that grief has on our health and ways in which we can start the healing process.
Intuitive vs Instrumental Grieving
One theory, in which we respond to grief, comes from authors Terry Martin and Kenneth Doka, who published the book Men Don’t Cry… Women Do: Transcending Gender Stereotypes of Grief.
Their book emphasises that while there are many ways in which we grieve, there was a continuum of grief with two different patterns on either end: Intuitive and Instrumental.
Intuitive Grievers are more likely to talk about their feelings and share stories with others.
Instrumental grievers prefer alone time and grieve in private. They may show more outward emotion and concentrate on problem solving, seek practical or creative ways to honour their loved one such as donating time and energy to a cause related to them.
Whatever a person’s grieving process, one thing we all do as humans is draw from our own strengths to deal with grief.
The mental, emotional and physical impact of grief
Besides the emotional aspect, our physical and mental wellbeing may also be impacted while grieving the loss of a loved one.
Some of the mental and emotional impacts of grief include:
- Feeling exhausted
- Lacking in energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Becoming forgetful
- Having a low mood
- Feeling anxious
- Feeling agitated and irritable
Grief is a natural response to something that has happened and unfortunately there is no instant fix.
For some, grief is less likely to be at the forefront of our minds as time passes.
There may be triggers from time to time (such as anniversaries, locations, songs and smells) that remind us of our loved ones who have passed.
In those moments we may feel some raw emotions – but they too will pass.
However, for others, there may be indicators that would suggest we need further help to support our mental health and ability to move forward.
Some of these indicators may include:
- Feeling emotionally overwhelmed with day-to-day life
- Intense emotions are not subsiding
- Relationships are suffering
- Not sleeping
- Symptoms of anxiety and depression
If you are experiencing any of these feelings, it is important to reach out and talk to someone who can help.
How do I start the healing process?
Healing from your personal grief is just as personal as how we respond to grief itself.
What some people feel as helping to cope with losing a loved one, may not work for others.
One thing that research has found when coping through the grieving process is the importance of having good social supports.
Having someone there for you to talk to, or even just be around, can make an enormous difference to our personal wellbeing.
Allowing ourselves to acknowledge the loss and express our concerns can help us to lift the burden and helplessness we feel.
How can I help someone who is grieving?
The best way to help someone through the grieving process is to use active listening skills such as eye contact, open body language and limit all distractions so that they feel heard.
If they don’t wish to talk, just being there can offer support – sitting in silence.
Alternatively, you can offer to help with tasks such as funeral arrangements or running errands to give them the support they need to get through this tough time.
If you or someone you know is going through a hard time of losing a loved one and need someone to talk to, our team is here to help.
If you’d like to know more, we found these pages very helpful:
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