Grief is our response to someone or something we have lost. Grief comes when someone passes away, but grief can also come with lost relationships or major life events. Can you recognize grief within you? The goal of processing grief is to help move you beyond the initial event and the emotional response from receiving the information. It is important for us to know if we have taken the time to grieve so that we can continue excelling in life. If we haven’t, it is possible we have stuffed our grief inside, ignoring it. Storing up grief can affect us mentally, emotionally and physically as well as affect our relationships. Today we will talk about healthy ways to grieve.
Am I Grieving?
Grief is different for each of us. It is important to know that how one person grieves is not necessarily the way another one will. With that in mind, lets go over some characteristics of grief. You may be experiencing sadness or other emotions after you have loss someone or something. The sadness and emotions may not come right after a loss. Often, we have to push through the initial feelings of loss so it can take a little while before we can take the time we need process the loss. This does not always come right after losing someone. Grieving is not a onetime processing and can also come when you experience, it can also come when you experience something that reminds you of your loss, such as a holiday or a yearly event.
Grief can also come in forms of denial, disbelief or shock. Our bodies are designed to go into protection modes to keep us from becoming so overwhelmed that we shut down. These feelings seem to be the greatest at the first knowledge of the loss. Do you find yourself not able to accept the loss after a lengthy time frame? You could be stuck in this part of grief. It is important to recognize if you have been in a denial state for too long as you can completely stop processing grief it all together, giving yourself the false feeling of being numb to it.
Some people struggle with feelings of panic or confusion when they try to process a loss. It is easy to wonder and worry about how you will be able to fill the gaps of the loss. This can leave you to experience feelings of anger or feeling overwhelmed.
Not everyone will experience negative emotions at a loss. Sometimes your loved one may have been suffering and you feel relieved that they are no longer. This, too, are perfectly normal emotions to experience. Having these feelings or even mixed feelings, don’t mean you don’t love the person. Desiring the very best for someone, even for them not to suffer, is often times the deepest of loves. Can you recognize your ways of grief? Have you properly processed the losses in your life? Below we will talk about the importance of doing so.
What If I Don’t Grieve?
Often times, I think we try to convince ourselves that we are ok. That someday soon, everything will be ok and life will go back normal. We delay processing that fact that we lost someone important to us. We can make it sound ok in our minds, telling ourselves “life goes on” or “I should be over this” or … but recognizing whether we are actually processing the grief is very important. When we don’t process our grief the emotions of the event stays inside of us. These unresolved emotions can lead to serious issues in our lives. It can affect us physically, mentally and spiritually. Below are just a few examples of what could become of not processing grief.
- You could become obsessive over thinking about it
- You could develop anger issues
- You could partake in addictive behaviors
- You could become fearful of loosing others
- You could remain mentally unhealthy, affecting each day
Holding on to your feelings and emotions is not a sign of you loving them more, but can an sign that you need to talk about your loss. Talk about your loss and seek help if need be. Can you recognize any struggles that may be affected by keeping grief inside? Do you want to heal, but don’t know how?
Steps For Grief.
By now, I hope that if you have held on to past grief, you are ready to take steps to try to process your thoughts and emotions about your loss. Deciding to take a step forward is huge. It may be hard, but it is necessary. Below are a few suggestions of steps to take to grieve in a healthy way.
- Describe your pain and/or loss. What you loved about them and miss.
- Accept any emotions or changes that are within you
- Give yourself grace, we each grieve differently
- Seek support from someone you trust
- Take a step to care for yourself physically
- Be honest with yourself if you are depressed or withdrawing
- Envision your future. What new things need to happen?
- Unresolved past grief
Processing grief doesn’t take place overnight. In general, we can only process a bit at a time. So, as you work through some steps for grief, allow yourself to pause and process and decide what steps you want to take for you and your future.
If you have tried to overcome a hard circumstance in your life and you need help taking a step, you are not alone. We are here to help. Upstate Restorative Counseling has therapists waiting to listen and help you establish a plan for your future.