Dealing with grief and the loss of a loved one can be one of the darkest times you will endure in your life. While it’s happening, it can seem like life will never get better. Life does get better, although it may never entirely be the same. Dealing with grief and loss is a form of soul sickness. If you’re sick, you have to take specific steps to heal and get better. The same concepts for healing your physical health apply to the grieving process.
There are five distinct phases of the grieving process:
If you don’t take the time and precautions to mend a broken heart, you will continue to hurt emotionally and even physically. You can get stuck in the depression phase of the grieving process. Below are five steps from The Wojcik's Funeral Chapel, that you can take to help heal from loss and grief.
1. Acknowledge Your Sorrow
First, you need to give yourself permission and space to grieve the loss. If you don’t acknowledge your sorrow and grief, you’ll never be able to heal from it.
2. Accept the Loss
Two main things tie people to their grief and sadness:
The belief that we must overcome our adversity with something that exists outside of ourselves.
The belief that we won’t be able to get through the adversity.
People will often think that if they had better resources, or the ability to run away from their grief and adversity that they’d be able to overcome it. Mistakenly, we tell ourselves that other people can overcome similar losses because they have something or someone that we don’t have.
To move forward through the grieving process and heal from our pain, we must first acknowledge and accept the loss and understand that nothing will change the past. Then, we need to recognize that we possess both the inner and outer resources to overcome our adversity. Believing that we are enough and the answer to our own healing is crucial to overcoming the pain and loss of a loved one.
3. Choose Your Resources
Once you acknowledge your resources for overcoming your grief, you can start to use them. Are you someone who tends to go to your community first when you need help? Or do you feel refreshed and stronger after time alone to recharge? Does traveling, or laughter help ease your pain? What healthy actions can you take to get closer to what makes you stronger? This part of the process will look different for everyone.
4. Create Comfort
When you’re in the midst of the grieving process, it’s important to be kind to yourself. You will need time to rest and take care of yourself physically. During the grieving process, you’ll be under more stress than usual, and stress can weaken your immunity.
5. Be Deliberate
It’s easy to fall back into negative thinking patterns or to get bogged down in day to day drudgeries. It’s important that you consciously take the steps necessary to give yourself adequate time and resources to heal and alleviate your pain.
Also, it’s critical that you recognize the difference between grief and depression. There is no timetable for the grieving process, and everyone’s process will look different. But if your pain isn’t easing or it’s getting worse, that can be a sign of depression or complicated grief. If the loss you experienced was violent or sudden, you could be dealing with symptoms of psychological trauma or PTSD. Signs of complicated grief or other mental health problems stemming from loss include:
Intense anger, bitterness, or denial that isn’t fading with time
Imagining that your loved one is still alive
Intrusive thoughts or images of the loss
Avoiding things that remind you of the loss
Feeling that life is empty or meaningless
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you’ll want to reach out to a qualified therapist to get the help you need.