The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to significant loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss, find new meaning, and move on with your life.
How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you. Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually, it can’t be forced or hurried, and there is no ‘normal’ timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to unfold naturally.
Powerful feelings can come unexpectedly. It’s like waves on a beach. You can be standing in water up to your knees and feel you can cope, then suddenly a big wave comes and knocks you off your feet.
Some people may experience behavioural issues such as crying withdrawal, over-reacting to situations, or impaired work performance. You may even find yourself avoiding reminders of the deceased – anniversaries and special occasions can be especially difficult to cope with.
Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control sometimes, but these feelings will eventually become less intense. Talking and sharing your feelings with someone can help. For some people, relying on family and friends is the best way to cope. But if you don’t feel like you can talk to them much – perhaps you aren’t close, or they’re grieving too? That’s why bereavement therapy allows you time and space to talk freely about your feelings, including the person who has died, your relationship, family, work, fears and the future. It might be that the person you have lost, died a long time ago.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has died. People in your life might not mention their name because they don’t want to upset you. But if you feel that you can’t talk to them, it can make you feel isolated.
Each bereavement is unique, and you can’t tell how long it will last. You don’t have to go through this process alone though.