by Cornelius D. Jones
Grief is a natural process that occurs when we lose someone or something of significance to us. Contrary to popular belief, our experience with grief isn't limited to death. Being forced to say goodbye to a person, place, or thing for good can inflict undesirable emotional pain on us. Although life is a process of beginnings and endings, we aren’t always prepared for some of those endings. Life transitions are as natural as the changing of seasons. Some of those transitions include losing a job, home foreclosures, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, relocating to a new place, loss of our independence, and other forms of undesirable changes. For this article, I will address the subject from a breakup and divorce perspective. Both can be equally stressful and emotional experiences in life. A breakup of a relationship may flip a person’s whole world upside down and trigger all sorts of painful and unsettling emotions. However, it’s important to keep reminding yourself that you can and will get through this difficult experience and even move on with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.
Grief often comes in waves that are best identified as stages. Understanding the five stages can help be aware of the emotional changes that comes along with a loss.
The five stages of grief
Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If you experience any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you will heal in time. There is nothing evidence based that proves that you must go through each stage to heal properly. Since we know that everyone is different, we also know that there are some people that resolve their grief without going through any of these stages at all.
Out of the five stages there is one that is prevalent to suicide. The stage that I’m speaking of is depression. Sometimes people confuse grief with depression and depression with grief. It is of great importance to distinguish the difference between grief and clinical depression. It isn’t always easy to know the difference considering they share many of the same symptoms. However, there are ways to tell the difference. Although, grief can be a roller coaster, it involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Grief doesn’t eliminate our ability to have moments of pleasure or happiness. When depression is present, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant. It is an uncomfortable feeling that becomes dangerous when the individual struggling becomes comfortable with it.
Other symptoms that suggest depression, not just grief, include:
While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief, and eventually find a way to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.
5 Ways to use Self-care:
Daily nurturing. One of the best ways to work through your pain is to work on yourself. Make it a priority to schedule "me time." Do something relaxing that will help calm and distract you. Create a list of activities that will benefit your mind, body, and spirit. Some of the things that comes to mind are go for a walk, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, practice mindfulness, read a good book, or take a yoga class.
Become in tune to your needs. Express your needs to others. Tell them what you need from them emotionally to help you to cope with your loss. Honor your feelings by allowing them to happen naturally. If your loss is from a breakup, it may be different from what your ex or others want but your feelings are still important. Say “no” without guilt or angst as a way of honoring what is right for you.
Set a routine. When the loss is associated with a divorce or relationship breakup it can disrupt almost every area of your life. Getting back to a regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normalcy.
Pause. Avoid making any major decisions in the first few months, such as starting a new job or moving to a new city. Raw emotions can result in disaster, considering that they are strong and natural but not controlled or developed. When possible, wait until you’re feeling less emotional so that you can make decisions with a clearer head.
Use healthy coping practices. When you’re in the middle of a breakup, you may be tempted to do anything to relieve your feelings of pain and loneliness. Using prescriptions in excess, street drugs, alcohol or food as an escape is unhealthy and very destructive. My parting words are to remember, it’s essential to find healthy ways of coping with painful feelings to help you get through them. www.corneliusdjones.com/blog/death-isnt-the-only-cause-of-grief