Coping with Grief
It’s natural to grieve for the loss of someone who meant so much to us. People will tell you that ‘time cures all’, and while there may be a lot of truth in that saying, it doesn’t help much when you are feeling so lost.
It’s not possible to estimate how much time it will take to adjust to your loss; everyone is different. Some people feel better if they allow free rein to their emotions; others try to avoid public demonstrations of grief (even with family and friends) and bottle it up. Others may try to tell you what you ‘should’ be doing, but they need to understand that there is no right or wrong way to cope with (or show) grief.
Factors that might influence the way you feel or behave include:
- Your relationship with the person who died
- Whether you’ve experienced other trauma or loss recently (cumulative effect)
- Your cultural background
- Your current state of health
- The amount of support you get from family, friends or caring community services
- Your financial situation and dependants
- Whether you knew death was approaching or it was unexpected
If you look around on the Internet, you will find a great deal written about the process of grieving. You may find articles on the ‘Five Stages of Grief” (Kubler-Ross) or the ‘Seven Stages of Grief’ and so on… but grieving is a very individual process , and sometimes it’s not helpful to speak about stages at all.
What follows are some of the emotions that people feel who have lost someone close to them. You may not experience all the stages below, or in this order. You may not experience any of them.
- Shock/Denial: An inability to believe that death has occurred, and an unwillingness to accept it. Feelings are numb and it’s hard to function normally.
- Mourning/Pining: Constant thoughts about the one who has been lost, sadness, and a feeling of deep loneliness. Tears are common, and a desire to have life back the way it was.
- Depression: A preoccupation with the loss and an inability to carry on with day-to-day activities or social interaction.
- Recovery: Gradually feelings of loss and despair become less intense.
Most people find that they cope with their loss with the support of friends and family. If you need further help, or have no-one close to you, try the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, a non-profit organisation. They have a comprehensive list of contacts and brochures that you can download.