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The Grieving Process: 9 Things to Know

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

An older man is seen placing a rose on a grave

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

A senior woman is seen lookin sad while hugging a photo of two people

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

A senior man looks distressed while a woman comforts him

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

An Asian senior man lies awake in bed

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

A senior woman looks off into the distance while touching a photograph

“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

A senior man looks distraught with a glass of water in front of him

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

An older woman looks upset holding her phone next to a Christmas tree

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

A Black senior man conforts his friend in a park

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 

A grieving senior woman meet with a grief counselor

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. 

A wide range of thoughts and emotions may be flooding your mind if you’re currently experiencing grief. All of those feelings are normal; however, they may cause you to feel overwhelmed. To help make peace and understand more about the emotions you’re going through, learn about mindfulness meditation, its benefits and how it works. 

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