Everything You Need to Know About Grief and Loss
Experiencing grief and loss is one of the most common emotions of the human existence. Grief can take on many shapes and sizes, and each person experiences grief and the subsequent emotions associated with it in a different way. With any health challenge, the best way to process grief is to learn more about it, the symptoms associated with it, and how it can impact your day-to-day. Either in-person or online grief counseling is a great way to begin processing your emotions, however, if you’re looking to learn more about grief itself, we’ve compiled some foundational knowledge around the grieving process in the following guide for you.
Introduction to Grief
The term grief refers to the emotional feelings one experiences when someone or something they love has been taken away. While many people might associate grief with the death of a loved one, there are actually many different triggers that can bring forth the grieving process. Challenges like divorce, job loss, extreme changes in lifestyle, or other potentially traumatic events can all be triggers for experiencing grief. Even what might seem to be normal life events such as selling a home or retirement can sometimes be triggers for grief. The loss you experienced is paired with overwhelming emotions that are difficult to navigate, ranging from shock to confusion to guilt to deep sadness. Often, the more significant the loss, the more substantial and overwhelming the grieving process is.
Myths about Grief and Processing Loss
Because grief is such a common human experience, unfortunately, there are many myths and falsities surrounding the grieving process and how one should cope with grief. Below are some of the most common myths that you might encounter if you’re in the midst of processing your grief.
Myth: If you don’t cry, it means you’re not really feeling that upset.
Fact: Different people experience and process sadness and grief in different ways and on different timelines. While crying is a typical response to sadness, just because someone hasn’t cried doesn’t mean they aren’t sad or won’t ever cry. Grief takes on many different forms and there is no “normal” response for what grief should look like.
Myth: Ignoring the pain will help it go away faster.
Fact: In reality, the opposite is true. Burying your emotions and ignoring pain will only prolong the time it will take you to face your grief and process the emotions. To heal and move forward, it’s important to accept the emotions and pain you’re feeling as part of the grieving process.
Myth: Adults should be strong and brave in the face of loss.
Fact: Showing your true feelings to your friends and family will help encourage them to express themselves and deal with their grief as well. If you’re grieving in front of children and try to suppress your emotions, children will pick up on this and work to model your behavior. The best thing for both you and your family members is to fully experience your feelings, be sad and upset together, and not shove any of these deep emotions down.
Stages of Grief
Many people are familiar with the Kübler-Ross stages of grief model which suggests some of the different patterns that one will experience in the grieving process. While these stages of grief can be a useful marker for what you might be currently experiencing or might experience in the future, it’s important to also remember that grief is not a straight line, it’s a roller coaster. You might move from one stage to the other, or jump straight to stage 4 then back to stage 1. There is no sure path which you might experience the following stages of grief:
- Denial: Feeling like this isn’t real, or this can’t be happening to you.
- Anger: The urge to blame others and general frustration around why this is happening.
- Bargaining: Committing to change your life or act in a different way to undo the loss.
- Depression: Feeling overwhelmed by sadness and lacking the energy to do anything else.
- Acceptance: Coming to terms with what happened and regaining some balance in your life.
Emotional & Physical Symptoms of Grief
The 5 stages of grief can provide some context into why you’re feeling the way you are, however, there are also many different emotional symptoms associated with grief as a whole that can be useful in recognizing if you’re in a cycle of grief. These emotions are sadness, guilt, fear, anxiety, anger, numbness, or even feeling detached from reality. Because the mind and the body are so deeply connected, these emotions and feelings can often trigger physical symptoms that are associated with grief as well. Physical challenges that are grief-related can include insomnia, nausea, exhaustion, weight loss or gain, lower immunity, and aches and pains throughout the body.
Promoting Self-Care during Grief
If you’re experiencing grief, it’s extremely important to prioritize both your mental and physical health during this time. Making sure you truly engage with your emotions and deal with your loss means not suppressing it, but talking about, thinking about it, and engaging with what you’re feeling. This can often be difficult for many people as it’s a tricky balance between engaging with the grieving process and letting it consume you. Luckily, however, there are many trained mental health professionals who can support you in engaging with your grief while not getting lost in it.
ACT Teletherapy Can Help
If you’re looking for an amazing mental health practitioner to provide online grief counseling, get in touch with our team at ACT Teletherapy. Our highly training mental health experts will work with you to develop a treatment plan and support you through the grieving process.