The Grieving Process: 9 Things to Know
November 17, 2020 | Healthy Aging
Hannah Kaye, MSW, LCSW, a Behavioral Health Specialist at our Triad, NC practices breaks down the grieving process to help you understand how to allow yourself to heal.
Grief is one of the most painful parts of living. It is associated with mental illnesses, depression and can often make us feel alone. Grief is universal as it is something all of us go through at some point. However, that doesn’t make it any easier. If you’re going through the grieving process you may be shocked, cry, become angry, or have depression. All of those feelings are normal, but it’s important to understand why you’re feeling that way. Here are 9 things to know about the grieving process.
Grief isn’t just about death
Grief is the expression of loss which can look like many different things. Grief can be felt in a loss of a relationship, friendship or a loved one. It can also be felt in a loss of your health or independence.
Grief isn’t in stages
Some of you may have learned the previous “stage of grief” model, where denial leads to anger, which leads to bargaining and depression, which leads to acceptance. But grief isn’t a comfortable linear progression. Most of us who have experienced grief know it’s more like a roller coaster. A more current model used in the mental health system is Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning. Here are the four “tasks” someone goes through throughout the grieving process.
- To accept the reality of the loss
- To work through the pain of grief
- To adjust to an environment where the deceased is missing
- To find an enduring connection with the deceased
There is No Wrong Way to Grieve
Although grief is something all of us go through at some point, the expression of that grief is different for every person. Whether you cry, feel numb, overwhelmed, angry or something else, there is no wrong way to grieve. Try to acknowledge when you are comparing yourself to others, and do not judge yourself for how you grieve.
Grief is Physical and Emotional
Grief is an extremely physical process as well as an emotional one. You may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and you may feel previous pains more acutely while you are grieving. This is normal.
Remove “SHOULD” from Your Vocabulary
“Should” places an unrealistic expectation on yourself, usually to conform to your or society’s expectations. The world can place pressure on you to stop talking about grief or to “move on” before you are ready. Recognize this is YOUR journey and no one else’s.
Taking Care of Yourself Matters Even More When You’re Grieving
Self-care is so important when you are experiencing grief. Grief can make it difficult to concentrate and remember to take care of yourself. Consider keeping a log to make sure you are drinking water, eating and sleeping enough.
You Can “Cope Ahead” for Anniversaries/Holidays
Holidays, birthdays and loss anniversaries can be a painful time. Cope ahead by talking to loved ones. Develop a plan of what to do on that day, including scheduling some time to practice self-care.
It’s Okay to Ask For What You Need From Others
It’s okay to ask a friend to listen, and it’s brave to admit you are struggling. Other people may not automatically know how to help you, or they may want to help but feel if they bring up your grief, they will make it worse somehow. Tell the people in your life what you need from them.
Free Grief Counseling is Available in Many Areas
Most hospices offer free grief counseling to the community at large, not just for people who have lost a patient at that hospice. Speaking with a trained grief counselor can be helpful, especially if you are feeling “stuck.”
If you’re experiencing grief, don’t be afraid to talk about it with your primary care provider, especially if it is affecting your mental and physical health. At Iora, we understand that there is no right way to grieve. However, we are here to help, even if that just means listening.