Grief, The Price Paid For Love
As a Denver therapist who also practices online therapy, I help people through many different forms of loss. One of the most common that I see is “ambiguous loss,” or a loss that happens without closure or understanding such as a breakup, a move or other huge transition, a miscarriage, or lost dreams. I also help people mourn the death of a loved one.
Grief can take many different forms and it looks different for different people. Today, however, I hope to give you a strategy to help you work through grief – in all its forms.
Types of Grief
There is no right way to grieve. Sometimes this grief results in an overwhelming sadness that is accompanied by loss of motivation, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite. It can also take the form of irritability, anger, or numbness.
Sometimes it feels scary to face the feelings accompanied with grief. There may be fear that you will never stop feeling the pain, so it seems easier to ignore it. This avoidance, choosing to not deal with the sadness, hurt, and anger that often accompanies grief, however, may make things worse for you. Avoidance will likely leave you feeling lost, lonely, and overwhelmed.
Waves of Grief
I often view the grieving experience as “waves.” There are ups and downs that are associated with loss. One day you might be fine, you’ll think you have begun your final stages of the healing process. The next day, however, a wave of sadness may crash down on you and leave you feeling sad, angry, or hurt all over again.
When you “ride the wave” by allowing yourself to feel and deal with your emotions, you will experience some relief from the pain faster than if you choose to “fight the wave.” It might be difficult (likely, it will be) but working through these feelings is the clearest path toward healing.
The Stages of Grief
The stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, and acceptance are experiences that ring true for those who are grieving. They are also true for ambiguous loss as well. I used to believe that these stages were linear, but they certainly are not.
Typically, when you go through these stages they tend to be “out of order” in the sense that you can be angry and sad at the same time. Or, maybe, you feel acceptance one day but anger the next.
While these stages are a great reference point, it’s important to give yourself the space to feel your emotions without judgment. Everyone grieves differently and for different periods of time. If you’re working through grief in the aftermath of a loss, below are a few strategies that might be helpful to you.
How To Deal With The Loss Of A Loved One
- Talk About It
- Make Space For Feelings
Emotions often come in waves, so try not to suppress emotion but allow yourself to “ride the wave” when it comes. Some helpful ways to do this is by journaling what you are feeling or expressing what you’re feeling to someone you trust.
- Practice Self-Care
Do something that you enjoy. As difficult as it is, engaging in self-care activities like exercising, spending time with friends, or enjoying other hobbies often provides a moment of relief from the heavy emotions that come with grief. Practicing self-care is probably one of the most difficult things to do when you’re grieving, so finding someone to engage in these activities with can be helpful as well!
- Get Support
Connecting with a caring grief counselor can help you vulnerably process through all of the emotions that you are feeling in a way that helps to promote healing from the grief and normalize your experience. If you are experiencing grief in any form, it helps to have a caring professional to help you navigate the painful journey of grief.
Healing After Loss
In the long run, it is better to go through the grief than to suppress it, although in the moment it is much more difficult to allow yourself to feel it. By going through the grief, you will allow yourself to process in a way that allows you to heal. As difficult as this process is to experience, giving yourself the time and space to work through your emotions helps to alleviate your pain and allow you to feel like yourself again.
Wishing you grace through your healing.