08Oct

Coping with Grief

When we lose a loved one it is expected that we will go through a period of being sad. We may go through those often discussed “5 states of grief”-denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It may be clean cut and make total sense to those around us. But more often than not, it won’t look like that. Grief is messy and uncomfortable. It probably won’t look the same as the people grieving around us, making us wonder if we’re doing it “right”. It’s complicated and completely normal.

Although we expect grief when a loved one dies, we also experience it in other situations. We can grieve the loss of relationships, jobs, the future we thought we’d have or the loss of one’s health. Although the intensity and duration of mourning these events may be less than an actual death, it is still felt nonetheless. Unfortunately, people often beat themselves up or question why they can’t just “get over it” when something like that happens. Recognizing and accepting that there is a grieving process that is occurring while going through them can help people get through it.

Anticipatory grief is experienced when someone is expecting their death or the death of a loved one. It is often felt when a terminal diagnosis is given or when cognitive decline causes a slow loss of the person they once knew. This type of grief sometimes comes with feelings of guilt and shame for “wishing it was over” as they watch their loved one in pain or slowly deteriorate. It’s important to know that these feelings are normal. Anticipatory grief is a way for us to prepare emotionally for what we know is going to happen.

When someone we love dies, the world as we have known it changes. Whether it is an expected death or not, the impact can be profound. We may become unmotivated and feel numb much of the time. We might feel like we’re just “going through the motions” of life and aren’t really present. We aren’t meant to jump right back into things after the loss of a loved one. Our mind and body are wired to make us slow down, shed tears and receive support from others. We may try to distract ourselves by being busy. Whether it’s the funeral planning or diving into more projects at work-they both do the same thing. They keep us from feeling the difficult emotion of sadness and loss too intensely. Unfortunately, this can force these feelings to come out in unhealthy ways-anxiety, health problems, emotional eating, just to name a few.

Mourning a loss is never easy. It is painful and most of us wish we would never have to go through it. An unhealthy fear or avoidance of the emotions associated with grief can inhibit your ability to process the experience and move forward. Counseling can be extremely helpful if you’re having a hard time getting through the grieving process. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to make an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando counselors.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Holly Lapka