Bereavement Strategies – Coping with Grief and Loss
When a loved one approaches death, family members and friends go through a complex grieving process that can last months or years. This article will hopefully provide support to bereaved families and can help you make the most of the time you have left with your loved one. It’s easier to work through the stages of grief if you learn healthy bereavement strategies.
We may be too preoccupied thinking in our circumstances for the first few days or even weeks. However, once the funeral is over and everyone’s lives appear to be returning to normal, we may find ourselves wondering how we will survive from this situation.
Everyone’s circumstances are unique, and everyone grieves in their own way. In this article we will be listing coping strategies that will be beneficial to you.
In this article we will be talking about just that and giving you a comprehensive explanation on each strategy.
An Overview of The Grieving and Bereavement Process
Everyone has their own personal way of dealing with grief. Grief has no set timeline, and some people experience it in waves or bursts of intense emotion rather than as a smooth transition from one phase to the next.
Grief often begins even before death. Major life changes and the impending death of a loved one can be emotionally draining, and caregivers may begin to miss the routines and experiences they shared with the dying family member.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist who created the most popular study of grief and created a stage-based model outlining the feelings encountered by dying people. These steps are not set in stone, but they are very accurate. Note that you may fall back into the same stage even though you have gotten out of it previously.
You don’t have to go through the stages of grief in a specific order to heal or move on with your life, but some people find that knowing what to expect when they are grieving is comforting. In Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ model there are 5 stages.
- Denial– This stage is what our body and minds perform to help cope with the loss. We are attempting to cope with emotional pain while processing the reality of our loss. This is particularly difficult, especially if we have just interacted with that person recently. Note that denial is more than just denying that the loss has occurred. We’re also attempting to absorb and comprehend what’s going on.
- Anger -Anger is a common reaction to the death of a loved one. This is what happens when we are still trying to adjust to the situation when we are still in a lot of emotional pain. Because there is so much to process, anger may appear to provide an emotional outlet. Unfortunately, when we begin to release emotions related to loss, anger is often the first emotion we experience. This stage is where most people feel isolated since you are most likely driving people away from you but at the same time you also want affection.
- Bargaining -When you’re dealing with a loss, it’s common to feel so desperate that you’ll do almost anything to relieve or minimize the pain. When we lose a loved one, we may consider any way we can avoid the pain we are experiencing or the pain we expect to experience because of the loss. This is where all the regrets start sinking. People wished they have called or checked up on that person or they regret that they had a bad last interaction with them. Its completely normal and is part of the process.
- Depression -During the process of grieving, there comes a point when our imaginations calm down and we begin to see the reality of our current situation. In this stage, we will feel the most grief that we will ever experience. Our sadness and sorrows will all wash over us without warning. and as our panic dissipates, the emotional fog lifts, and the loss becomes more tangible and unavoidable. If you are having troubles with coping or possibly thinking of hurting someone or yourself, please contact any national helpline for more information and support.
- Acceptance– In the stage of acceptance, we accept the situation we have found ourselves in. Accepting that we cannot change our circumstances. We accept everything that has happened whether there are any regrets or not. We accept everything whether we like it or not. In this stage we have let go of our grief and we try to continue with our lives as normal.
Strategies for Coping with Grief and Bereavement
Grieving for someone’s death is very difficult. People have developed specific strategies over time to help them cope with other life challenges, and these may also be useful during bereavement. Consider some of the following methods for coping with loss:
- Journaling– Journaling can be a helpful way to organize your thoughts with yourself and to reflect on the things you have gone through with this person. Writing your feelings and thoughts throughout the day can really aid the realization of grief and this also serves as a record on your perspective on the loss change over time.
- Making Time To Grieve–Setting aside time in a day or even the whole day just to grieve and let those emotions out can actually be very therapeutic since most of the time we are bottling up our emotions and it all comes out in a burst. Make sure to give yourself permission to cry, scream, angry, etc.
- Exercise – Regular physical activities has seen to help release grief energy and to be able to express it more thoroughly. Some people might prefer this over journaling since it is more physically demanding and if that is you consider adding exercise to your calendar.
- Joining a Support Group – What’s better than talking to someone that has gone through the same situation as you are right now? Joining a support group is crucial since you are surrounding yourself with people who understand you and don’t judge you. When you do this you have opportunities in building more connections. And people to talk to about your thoughts and this leads to the next coping strategy.
- Sharing Your Thoughts With Someone Else – Talking to someone on how you are currently feeling is crucial. Since we human beings are social creatures and we dread connection. Have a conversation with a friend or family member, preferably someone you are very comfortable talking to. Maybe someone from the support group you have joined since they have gone through the same process as you. (see last point)
Professional Counselling / Therapy
Although self-help methods are great with dealing with bereavement and grief. It is not always efficient, and you might need some––one who is professional at the matter at hand. If you need assistance working through your grief, professional bereavement counselling may be beneficial. The following are some signs that your grief is causing problems that you can’t handle on your own:
- Experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or becoming depressed on a regular basis.
- Persistent distress symptoms, such as crying, insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability and anger, or panic attacks.
- You’re finding it difficult to complete daily tasks, including basic self-care.
- Unable to believe your loved one has passed away.
- You go to familiar places in the hopes of seeing your deceased loved one. Or you avoid places and situations that remind you of your loss.
- You’re abusing substances such as alcohol or drugs, or you’re engaging in compulsive behavior such as gambling.
- You’re concerned about your well-being, and/or others have expressed concern.
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