|Dealing with grief is a process of acceptance|
“Well, everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”
Stages of grief5 stages of the grieving process has been described. The stages do not necessarily come in order, nor are all the stages experienced by every person. One may return or go through one or the other stage several times before acceptance of the loss.Grief is a process and not just a state. During the process of grieving and bereavement a person may experience many emotions during the course of bereavement- helplessness, anger, sadness, denial, despair and yearning are common.
- The first stage is the stage of denial ('It's not true’; ‘There must be some mistake.’) This is a normal defence mechanism which helps to cushion the immediate shock.
- Once the reality sinks in, the pain is often redirected and expressed as anger. ‘Why me?’; ‘Its not fair’; ‘How can this happen to me’; are the common reactions in this phase. Anger may be directed towards objects, strangers, the doctors or family members, God; or even towards the deceased person- ‘How could you leave me alone?’
- A promise of good behaviour or an attempt to strike a bargain (‘I will always listen to you’, ‘I will never worry you again,)’ is often the reaction at this stage.
- Sadness and regret are mingled and one may often say ‘There is no point in life; - I may as well die too’.
- At this stage emotions are stable and calm.
Strategies for dealing with griefThough each one copes differently, the following strategies may help you cope with your feelings and come to terms with your loss.
- Talking about your loss: It may be difficult for you initially- but in time it helps to talk about your loss and your feelings with a trusted family member or friend or a counsellor.
- Accepting your feelings : The anger, guilt, helplessness you may feel are normal and part of the grieving process. There is no guilt or shame in accepting them; and it paves the way for healing.
- Taking care of yourself : Establishing a routine with regular meals, exercise and adequate rest is important for your physical and mental health.
- Reaching out to others: Working with people less fortunate, or carrying on the legacy of the deceased (teaching, helping in the community) helps to give meaning to life.
When to seek professional help
- Though different people take different times, intense and persistent grief continuing over a period of six months may require professional help.
- Loss due to suicide is among the most difficult to bear. In such cases, counselling during the first weeks is both advisable and beneficial.
- Inability to cope with or resume daily life or work activities, intense sorrow or pain which does not subside with time, inability to maintain or build relationships are indications to consult a mental health specialist.