To learn how to cope with bereavement, we must first understand grief and its ‘five stages’. First introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969, these are applicable to any form of grief, whether it be a relationship ending or the loss of a loved one.
Denial – “This isn’t happening to me”
Anger – “Why is this happening to me? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining – “Make it go away and I promise I will _____”
Depressions – “I’m too sad to do anything”
Acceptance – “I’m finally at peace with what happened”
The above list is linear in its progression towards acceptance but bear in mind that there is no set way that someone copes with the grief that comes with bereavement.
Some people may move through each stage one after the other but often our relationship with grief is much more complicated than that. For many people the process is more akin to 2 steps forward, 1 step back partly because it is very rare simply to “move on”.
However, the grieving process isn’t always as straightforward as taking ‘steps’. Sometimes it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. These highs and low will be tough at first, but just like a rollercoaster, the difficult periods should become shorter and less intense as time passes; but it takes time and patience to come to terms with a loss.
Usually, a person has to deal with a number of outside influences, containing emotional triggers that could re-open the emotional wound just as it is beginning to heal. This is why a good support network is of great importance whilst coping with bereavement.
Getting the Support You Need
The most important factor in healing after the loss of a loved one, is having a good support base. We understand that not everyone is comfortable talking about their feelings but it is important to express yourself whilst grieving. A problem shared really is a problem halved in this case. Do not grieve alone.
Who You Can Turn To
Turn to Family and friends – Lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in your inner strength. Bring loved ones close, rather than avoiding them. Often, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need, even if it’s just a shoulder to cry on.
Support Groups – Grief can be very lonely, so sharing your feelings with people who have experienced similar feelings can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counselling centres.
Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you can offer some comfort – whether it be praying, meditating, or going to church. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community.
Talk to a grief counsellor or therapist – If you’re really struggling and the grief feels like too much to handle, call a mental health professional with experience in grief counselling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving. Counsellors and therapists are professionally trained and are here for a reason; don’t be afraid of asking for help.
In our next blog, we will discuss the common symptoms of grief and other ways to cope with bereavement.
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