Grief Article for Net Doctor

Grief Article for Net Doctor

Are there certain stages/phases of grief that people tend to pass through ?

Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the loss of someone we love or something we value, and our reactions and our experiences of grief are as unique to each person as our own fingerprint. We are unique beings therefore each relationship we have is unique. Even though we may share similar emotions to others , there is no common order, no stages and no pattern to how we will experience them. If there are several of us grieving the loss of the same person, our grieving experience will be completely individual. Grief is incredibly personal. Misconceptions about there being stages to grieving can deny you your right to feel your pain naturally, instinctively and authentically, and can even prevent the healthy expression of your grief, the one that is right for you. Whatever you feel when you experience your losses is right for you. Acknowledge these feelings.

What are the signs that someone isn’t really coping well with their grief?

Painful emotions that are withheld and not put into words can have a negative impact on us emotionally as well as physically.  If we try to fit our grief into stages that we think we should be following, we may question our instincts and then put ourselves in conflict with them. This is just exhausting and we have to learn to grieve with confidence – and that means don’t question it, just let it come. 

Some signs that you aren’t coping well are :-

Withdrawing from your usual activities

Moodiness

A feeling of anger – anger often stems from fear or sadness

Crying for no apparent reason

Overreacting to a relatively small event

Trouble sleeping

Lack of concentration

A feeling of being disconnected

Isolating from family and friends

Loss of appetite or over-eating

Drinking more than usual

Overworking 

How can you offer support to someone who is grieving ?

If you find yourself comforting someone who has suffered a loss, don’t jump in straightaway with your own experiences. Comparing our losses can minimise the importance of the other person’s feelings. The best thing you can do is just listen with an open heart and open ears. Let them know that they can speak to you safely and confidentially. Feedback words to show that you understand but don’t offer an opinion. Don’t be a selfish listener who listens just to reply. When someone is speaking form a place of pain, they aren’t having a conversation, they are making a statement. Putting the pain into words unravels some of the emotional chaos we experience after a loss. Allow the little silences between sentences for the release of words to work their magic. Listening is one of the most important things we can do. Afterwards, thank them for sharing and if you want to offer practical help, don’t just say it – put your words into action. Don’t say ‘Call me if you need me”, because they won’t. Grievers can feel that they are burdening others with their sadness. Instead offer to do some shopping, cook a meal, do some housework and commit yourself to doing that on a particular day and time. This is a huge help. Listening and putting our words into action. 

What are the right/wrong things to say and do?

Never say: 

  • Anything that begins with, “At least ….”.
  • “I know how you feel”. Grief is incredibly personal. Never We do not know how someone else feels, at most all we can do is remember how we felt in a similar situation. Allow them the privilege of their own grief. 
  • Don’t offer platitudes – time is a great healer, be strong, you’ll meet someone else, at least they aren’t suffering, etc. These just serve to make the griever feel misunderstood and more isolated in their pain. 
  • Don’t try and change how they are feeling. Grief needs attention.

Do:

  • Become a safe spot for the griever to share their emotions without interruption just acceptance. 
  • Say, “I wish I had the right words but I am here for you”.
  • Say, “I can’t imagine how you are feeling. Would you like tell me what happened?’. 
  • Mention the name of the person who has died – share a favourite memory. It means their life mattered. 
  • Reach out with phone calls and visits during holidays and anniversaries. Grief doesn’t have an expiry date and the griever still needs to know you care and remember. 
  • Continue to offer your support months after the loss.

Where can you find professional grief support? Can your FD help with this? 

Sometimes just finding someone you can talk to without judgement, analysis or comment can be the best thing you can do. Someone with whom we don’t have to second guess ourselves and how and why we are feeling like we do, and just accepts that. As we talk without being interrupted, we can find a starting point, a way of working things out for ourselves. If you find that you are struggling with your grief contact www.griefrecoverymethod.co.uk – they provide an action program which is amazing. 

Funeral Directors are discovering the importance of grief support. Choose your funeral home wisely and this will be one of the best things you can do. Funeral Directors are one of the early caregivers following a death, so they have a very important role in your grief journey. Ask before you commit – who owns the business, what credentials do they have, are they the ones you feel comfortable sharing this experience with. If it’s really cheap, something will be missing. Just like you would ‘try before you buy’, please do visit a couple of funeral homes before you commit. You’ll know if something feels right and you’ll know if it doesn’t . 

How does this unprecedented time affect people’s grieving process?

Coronavirus has weakened our position before we have even started to grieve for the loss of someone we love. Being denied the physical comfort we need from our family and friends before, during and after a funeral means we must find new ways to unite in our grief and celebrate a loved one’s life. And even though it may feel easier to withdraw into ourselves in this time of lockdown and isolation, it is more important than ever that we push ourselves to reach out to one another.  It is essential to our wellbeing to find new rituals and ways of respecting and honouring those who have died. We must adapt to this new way of living and being. We have no choice. We must also let it be ok to feel the pain of our grief.

With restricted attendance at funerals and self isolation, you may not be able to attend the funeral of someone you love. Most funerals are now being live streamed so you can be a witness to the ceremony. Mark this day and this time. Give it the gravitas and respect it deserves. This is an important step in your grieving experience. When we go through certain rituals for grieving, we let some of it go. Take time to prepare. Have a candle to light, photographs. Memorialise your surroundings for the person. Dress for the occasion as if you were going to attend in person. Grief isn’t just emotional, it’s physical too and doing these things will help you. When we walk through our grief we get rid of some of its weight. 

Tips & advice for those who are grieving

“Grief affects us on every level – emotionally, physically spiritually and mentally.”

That is grief. We can no more control it than predict it. But it is much easier to bear your sadness if you aren’t also berating yourself for being sad. We live in a society that seeks easy and instant results to everything, so it is important that we learn the benefits and beauty of patience, effort and perseverance when we experience our losses. Superglue won’t fix this. Only when we have to work hard for something do we gain a sense of moving forward and a feeling of achievement. Accepting that every area of our lives will have been impacted can take away the expectation to feel ‘normal’ again in record time.  We need to take time to assimilate our losses, to feel the changes taking place within. To absorb the shock waves and above all to accept that whatever grief does to us, it is our own personal journey. 

Knowing that grief affects us on every level – emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally, helps us to remember the impact of grief and allows us to let it be what it needs to be.

Be kind with yourself and don’t expect too much too soon – you are not a robot. Working through grief takes time so focus on the process, the journey rather than the destination. Allow yourself the luxury of feeling your pain and grieving. Just as we laugh when we are happy, we need to allow ourselves to hurt through our losses. It is only through allowing it to wash over us that we come through to the other side.

  • Be wary of short term relievers such as alcohol, junk food and drugs.
  • Accept your feelings and acknowledge your pain. Whatever you are feeling is normal and right for you. 
  • Listen to your body – rest when you need, and make sure you eat. 
  • Talk about your loss with those you love.
  • Trust your instincts and don’t let others railroad into doing things you don’t feel ready for.
  • Find someone you can talk to and share with honesty. 
  • When you have your moments of happiness, don’t feel guilty.  There will be times when you get caught up in the act of living in the present moment. Then you will remember again and you will return to grieving. This is healthy and normal. 

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