Grief is an unwanted friend – it shows up when we least expect it and in it’s presence it leaves us gasping for air. No one ever said that grieving was an ‘easy’ task – Alas it is a process and a life long one at that! Grief is not only an emotional response to losing a loved one but it challenges us in many other aspects as well.
Spiritually: Grief has a way of challenging our belief system. It’s much easier to project hurt, anger and spite at our God who callously, without notice, took away our loved one/s than to focus within and accept the reality of our losses. We can either turn to religion or spirituality or we can reject it forever. Being part of a community is an asset and most find comfort in visiting with spiritual leaders and discussing existential concerns. However, some may find this as an assault on their senses. There is no right or wrong way to grieve spiritually – You don’t need to follow someone else’s dogma; you may choose to create your own.
Physically: Heartache, nausea, restlessness, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, psycho-somatic complaints are all real and part of the grieving process. The brain, the stomach and heart will all grieve together. There will be moments of ‘physical pain’ where it hurts to blink, your body is adjusting to the separation of your loved one. Your empty arms will crave to hold your love again – This is the time to nourish your senses; if you decide to numb these physical reactions than your at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease or even so a chronic illness… The body grieves too – allow for this.
Emotionally: We are a former shell of ourselves after a loss. Emotionally we may choose to dissociate from our surroundings and those who love us most. Grief is a time for mindfulness and connection. Being emotionally absent can damage us from forming new relationships with others or cause us to emotionally ‘block’ our feelings which intern can isolate us from the people who care for us the most. It is okay to be sad, or angry or ashamed. All these emotions need to interact with one another, we need to allow them space and time to enable us to allow other emotions in like joy and happiness. Always remember that sadness and joy can co-exist, even if the joy is short lived – explore that emotion and give your grief ‘time out’ for restoration and replenishing.
Psychologically: Sometimes our grief may re-trigger a former event in our lives that may have shattered our psychological well being. Feeling anxious or depressed are co-morbidities that exist and are real. We need to explore past trauma and re-assess our coping mechanisms. If you feel that your motivation is non-existent and you’re at risk of self harm please alert someone and give voice to the hurt. Grief is not the time to isolate or be alone. Some people may suffer with ‘Chronic Adjustment Disorder’ as a result of their loss: http://www.healthline.com/health/adjustment-disorder#Overview1. Please visit with a GP or Psychologist to have this diagnosed as it may impinge on your grief.
In summary, the pain of grief will always remain. It may be re-triggered by a memory, a scent, a song, an event. ‘Re-investing’ in life can enable one to get back to living a new norm again. If you feel like you are ‘stuck’ in your grief or you are unable to oscillate from moments of sorrow and joy than endeavour to visit a GP or professional who may be able to ascertain if you are in fact experiencing ‘prolonged grief’ or ‘complicated grief’. Thus, there is a criteria that practitioners use to diagnose this disorder. Remember being grief-stricken is not about being labeled with a condition but it’s about allowing yourself to feed the inner child and nourish the soul for healing. The internal pain can be exercised to help you ‘move forward’ – However, you don’t need to do this alone.
Bereavement Counsellor and Blogger