Grief and Loss
What does grief feel like?
It’s a difficult question to answer. Grief is so personal, there is no right way to respond to it. You make it up as you go along and it is very difficult to predict how you might react to a loss, it affects people in many different ways.
I know for me in the immediate aftermath, walking out of the hospital it felt unreal, unable to process what had just happened. Surrounded by others walking the same route, some deep in thought, others laughing and smiling looking like they had received good news about themselves or their loved ones. We were in a state of shock, there but not there. What do you do when you have had a day like no other? We went home, ordered pizza as if it was a normal day and sat around trying to comprehend and articulate how we felt and what had just happened to us.
For me it felt like my right arm had been cut off, a ship without its rudder and I knew that for me nothing would never be the same again. In the days that followed I had an overwhelming desire to want to phone to them, hear their voice one more time and still to this day, 6 years on, in unguarded moments I will think to myself ‘Oh I’ll just give them a ring to share my news/see how they are’ then I come back to the present and reality and a momentary sadness descends.
There are many feelings surrounding grief, you may experience some or all of these:
- Shocked and numb
- Lack purpose
- Difficulty concentration
Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience It isn’t an illness, it is natural and normal.
However, men and women will grieve differently from each other. Masculine grief is called cognitive-solitary grief, meaning that it involves spending time alone to think. People grieving this way tend to feel anger, fear, and a loss of control. To handle these feelings, they’re more private about their grief, and they tend to talk about their feelings as though they were someone else’s. They can also “freeze” their emotions and never deal with them.
Feminine grief is called emotional-social grief, meaning that the person spends time with others to understand their emotions. People grieving this way tend to feel sorrow, depression, and guilt. To handle their feelings, they reach out to talk with others. If this approach is taken to an extreme, the person can get stuck in their loss. They can also end up pushing people away by making too many demands on them.
The period following bereavement will undoubtedly be hard, but there are things that you can do to look after yourself.
Talk about your feelings
Talk to someone you trust about your feelings, such as a partner, a close friend or family member. If you don’t feel as if you can talk to those closest to you, then contact me Karen at hello@Flourishthroughtalk.co.uk or by phone on 07956 054 029
Talk about the person
Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has died because not mentioning them can leave you feeling isolated and alone in your grief.
Allow yourself to feel emotions
If you feel sad and need to cry, let it out. It’s important to grieve for your loved one and crying can help to release these emotions. If you feel angry, it’s ok to release this emotion too, you can do this in a safe way, such as punching a pillow. Or try writing a journal to help you release your emotions.
Take care of yourself
Try as much as possible to eat a healthy diet, if you can’t face eating, try small and often. this will help to boost and maintain your immune system. When we are stressed and finding life difficult our immune system can take a battering, leaving us depleted and vulnerable to infection. Grief can also increase inflammation, which can worsen health problems you already have and cause new ones. The heartbreak of grief can increase blood pressure and the risk of blood clots.
Get enough sleep (or rest if you can’t sleep) and try a little exercise.
Maintain your social life
It’s easy to feel like you don’t want to do anything when you’re grieving, however, it’s important to continue your hobbies and meeting up with good friends. Maintaining your routine and social life will help distract you or make you feel better, even if for a short time.
Avoid short-term ‘fixes’
Avoid relying on alcohol or taking drugs as these don’t solve anything.
Allow yourself to adjust
Losing someone close is incredibly hard. Accept that you may need to adjust to living on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it and remember that I am always here to help.
Do what you can on special occasions
Anniversaries and special occasions can be hard, so do whatever you need to do to get through them. Ask a good friend or family member to be with you if possible.
Remember your loved ones
Making physical memories of your loved one by making
- A memory book filled with photos and mementos of them and your time together.
- Write a journal of memories
- Make a photo montage
- Create an event in their memory e.g. organise a sponsored event in their name or donate a trophy to their favourite sports club
You may ask how can you tell if someone is grieving? And if they are what can you do to help? When we grieve, we express many emotional symptoms for example:
- Increased irritability
- Preoccupation with loss
- Inability to show or experience joy.
If someone you know has experienced a loss, the most important thing you can do is listen. You don’t have to have answers. You just need to be there for the person to talk with.
It also helps if you:
- Don’t take things personally. People who are grieving might say things they don’t really mean.
- Are patient and kind. Don’t put a timeline on people’s grief — it can take a long time to work through, and everyone is different.
- Take the initiative. For people who are grieving, making a simple choice can be an overwhelming task. Taking those choices off their plate can be a big help.
- Say you’re there for them when they need you – and mean it
- Simply sit and listen to them talk about their loved one or while they cry.
- Ask them how they’re feeling and if there’s anything you can do to help
- It’s the little things that can mean so much. Is there anything practical you can do to help? For example: giving lifts to appointments, cooking, shopping, housework, pet sitting or going with them to activities or support groups.
As I know from personal experience life will never be the same after losing a loved one; how can it be? However long or short their time with us was their impact on our lives is immense and it’s helped shape the person we are. Although it may not seem like it now, in time, we will begin to refocus on the world around us and create a new normality.
Grief has no timescale, but many people find that the bad days eventually become fewer and fewer; whilst still missing the person they’ve lost, they will also regain enjoyment in life – taking the memories and stories of that person along with them, providing comfort, meaning and a narrative of a life well lived.
Are you ready to flourish?
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