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The Pain Is Real but You Will Heal: How to Cope with Grief and Loss

The Pain Is Real but You Will Heal: How to Cope with Grief and Loss

The death of a loved one is, unfortunately, something most of us have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives, but grief and loss are not felt only when someone passes away.

A close friend or family member moving away, a divorce or breakup, losing a job, as well as a number of other life experiences can cause feelings of grief or loss. Coping with it is one of the most stressful and difficult things we have to deal with in life, but it is an experience everyone can relate to. It can be reassuring to know that you aren’t the only one going through it.

Everyone goes through the heartbreaking stages of grief.

The five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are the normal, common emotions we go through. They were identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969.

However, because everyone is different, there is no “standard” way to react to grief and loss.[1]

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Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeves and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally, and may not cry. You should try not to judge how a person experiences grief, as each person will experience it differently.

    Stage 1: Denial

    The feeling of shock when you first find out about a loss can lead to thinking, “This isn’t real”. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.[2]

    Stage 2: Anger

    Feelings of frustration and helplessness. Thoughts like “It’s not fair” can be common. Even being angry at your loved one who died for “leaving you behind” is natural.

    Stage 3: Bargaining

    Constantly thinking about what you could have done to prevent the loss. Thoughts of “What if…” and “If only…” replay in the mind. You might also try to bargain with a higher power in hopes of reversing the loss.

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    Stage 4: Depression

    The deep sadness you feel as you realize the loss is irreversible. You think about how your life will be affected by the loss. Crying, loss of appetite, feelings of loneliness, and unusual sleeping patterns are all signs of depression.

    Stage 5: Acceptance

    You accept the loss and although you’re still sad, you slowly start to move on with your life.

    The stages of grief don’t have to be in this order, and you might not experience all stages. There is also no set time period for grieving and some people take longer to heal than others.

    And everyone will heal eventually.

    When you’re experiencing those heartbreaking feelings, it’s hard to believe that you’ll eventually heal. But you really will heal. Here are some ways to help the healing process:

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    Confront the painful emotions.

    Try not to bottle up your emotions. Allow yourself to express how you feel. It’s a healthy part of the grieving process.[3]

    Talk about it.

    Talking to someone about the way you are feeling can be very helpful in starting the healing process. Often, people want to isolate themselves while grieving, but being around friends and family can help. Talking can also help you to confront your emotions if you have been unable to.

    Keep up with your routine.

    Loss can make you feel like your world has been turned upside down. Keeping up with your routine can help bring back some normality.

    Remember to take care of yourself.

    When you are grieving and depressed, simple things like eating become an afterthought and sleeping may become difficult. Taking care of yourself and your health will help with the healing process.

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    Don’t make any major decisions.

    Grief clouds the ability to make sound decisions.[4] Try to postpone making any big decisions for a while or get guidance from close friends or family.

    It is important to heal after a loss so that you can get on with life. There is no set time period for grieving, but if you feel that your grief isn’t getting better and you are unable to accept the loss, it might be time to seek professional help.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    More by this author

    Sheena Vincent

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on February 13, 2019

    10 Things Happy People Do Differently

    10 Things Happy People Do Differently

    Think being happy is something that happens as a result of luck, circumstance, having money, etc.? Think again.

    Happiness is a mindset. And if you’re looking to improve your ability to find happiness, then check out these 10 things happy people do differently.

    Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. -Dalai Lama

    1. Happy people find balance in their lives.

    Folks who are happy have this in common: they’re content with what they have, and don’t waste a whole lot of time worrying and stressing over things they don’t. Unhappy people do the opposite: they spend too much time thinking about what they don’t have. Happy people lead balanced lives. This means they make time for all the things that are important to them, whether it’s family, friends, career, health, religion, etc.

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    2. Happy people abide by the golden rule.

    You know that saying you heard when you were a kid, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Well, happy people truly embody this principle. They treat others with respect. They’re sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people. They’re compassionate. And they get treated this way (most of the time) in return.

    3. Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff.

    One of the biggest things happy people do differently compared to unhappy people is they let stuff go. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Happy people realize this, are able to take things in stride, and move on. Unhappy people tend to dwell on minor inconveniences and issues, which can perpetuate feelings of sadness, guilt, resentment, greed, and anger.

    4. Happy people take responsibility for their actions.

    Happy people aren’t perfect, and they’re well aware of that. When they screw up, they admit it. They recognize their faults and work to improve on them. Unhappy people tend to blame others and always find an excuse why things aren’t going their way. Happy people, on the other hand, live by the mantra:

    “There are two types of people in the world: those that do and those that make excuses why they don’t.”

    5. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people.

    happiness surrounding

      One defining characteristic of happy people is they tend to hang out with other happy people. Misery loves company, and unhappy people gravitate toward others who share their negative sentiments. If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members. Chances are, you’ll find that their positive attitude rubs off on you.

      6. Happy people are honest with themselves and others.

      People who are happy often exhibit the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness. They would rather give you candid feedback, even when the truth hurts, and they expect the same in return. Happy people respect people who give them an honest opinion.

      7. Happy people show signs of happiness.

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      smile

        This one may sound obvious but it’s a key differentiator between happy and unhappy people. Think about your happiest friends. Chances are, the mental image you form is of them smiling, laughing, and appearing genuinely happy. On the flip side, those who aren’t happy tend to look the part. Their posture may be slouched and you may perceive a lack of confidence.

        8. Happy people are passionate.

        Another thing happy people have in common is their ability to find their passions in life and pursue those passions to the fullest. Happy people have found what they’re looking for, and they spend their time doing what they love.

        9. Happy people see challenges as opportunities.

        Folks who are happy accept challenges and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. They turn negatives into positives and make the best out of seemingly bad situations. They don’t dwell on things that are out of their control; rather, they seek solutions and creative ways of overcoming obstacles.

        10. Happy people live in the present.

        While unhappy people tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future, happy people live in the moment. They are grateful for “the now” and focus their efforts on living life to the fullest in the present. Their philosophy is:

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        There’s a reason it’s called “the present.” Because life is a gift.

        So if you’d like to bring a little more happiness into your life, think about the 10 principles above and how you can use them to make yourself better.

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