What is Grief?
Grief is defined as the natural and normal reaction to loss and change of any kind. Of itself grief is neither a pathological disorder nor a personality disorder. Further, it involves cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral responses to the loss. Grief is the healing process that ultimately brings us comfort in the midst of our pain. One may want to avoid grief but really its the pain of the loss that one wants to avoid.
Common sources of grief include loss of people in our lives, that is, the death of a family member and or a loved one; the end of a romantic relationship; the end of a very close friendship; changing places (through relocation for work purposes or being displaced from a community in the aftermath of a major disaster e.g. flooding; hurricane; medium to large forest fire; earthquake, or a tsunami), lost of dreams, loss of health (being diagnosed with a major medical disorder), loss of a job, loss of social interaction and loss of a pet who dies or leaves the home.
The length of the grief process differs for everyone. There is no predictable schedule for grief and understanding the process of grief can benefit the healing. Of significance, the sequence of grief as elucidated below by Kubler-Ross (see image below), may occur as a spiral sequence, that is stage one-denial or stage two-anger, are not necessarily followed by stage three-depression. One may spiral from the Denial stage into the Bargaining stage of grief or spiral from Anger into the Bargaining stage; it is not a clean-cut linear process of movement through the stages but more of a spiralling movement.
Take notice that the early stages of grief may appear on the anniversary dates (date of death of a family member or a loved one; birthdays or other significant dates in the relationship that has been loss/severed)
Tips to Managing Grief:
1. Allow yourself to grieve, as this is a natural and normal process. Its okay to cry and shed a tear, this is not a sign of weakness or lack of willpower but instead, its what makes us "human" and the expression of grief will allow one to heal both emotionally, physically and spiritually
2. Experience the pain of loss (know that in time you will heal and experiencing the pain is cathartic for the one whom is grieving). Remember the pain of the loss is temporary and will pass in time
3. Adjust to the new environment after the loss
4. Reinvest in the new environment (take up a new hobby; find out any new interests that you may have; resume regular scheduled exercising or yoga sessions or meditation and social interactions/social outings; manage stress effectively; practice sleep hygiene)
5. Commemorate the life of the family member or loved one or pet whom you have loss, especially on the anniversary date of the loss with family members and or friends
6. See a therapist for talk therapy to assist you through your time of grief, especially if you are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
There is no need to suffer in silence. If you are experiencing complex grief symptoms (moderate to severe depression; insomnia; decreased appetite; negative thoughts or feelings; social isolation); you may be referred to a psychiatrist for a comprehensive assessment and management.
Do not be afraid; LISTEN->ACT->FOLLOW-UP!
7. Spiritual awareness, quiet meditation at home or at a relaxing environment, practice mindfullness; prayer may be helpful to you if you are so inclined
8. Avoid bingeing on alcohol as it may worsen any depressive symptoms that may be present (remember alcohol consumption in large quantities, has a depressant effect on the brain)
9. Be mindful of the Anniversary Effect of grief (anniversary dates; date of death of a family member/loved one; date one suffered the loss/losses)
10. Practice judicious ventilating with a confidante or family member or other close friend whom you trust, about your loss