Experiencing grief can be a grueling long path to again feel whole. There are countless books and websites outlining the 5 stages of grief
- Pain and Guilt
This list although generally true implies that there is a linear progression to grief and once you move past one stage you are done and will not go back to a stage multiple times. Nobody’s grief is like yours and nobody will know how you feel. There is nothing magically anyone including a therapist can do to fix you or make you move past what can be debilitating grief and sadness.
How long should you grieve?
This is your grief and it will be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. You may be laughing at the funeral hearing a funny story about your loved one and you may cry a year later when a birthday or anniversary is missed. The saying “Time heals all wounds” ignores that “grieve” is a verb and needs to be an active process.
There are many ways to actively grieve.
- Fully accept the loss
- By accepting the loss, you are able to be open to truly grieving.
- Talk about your loved one with family and friends
- Talking about your loved one brings out memories of happier times and relieves the feeling of loss
- Find time to cry
- Crying releases chemicals and hormones that relieve stress and can alleviate the effects of minor depression.
- Turn your loss into action
- Find a constructive way to honor your loved one in the community
The bereavement period begins after the initial grief and is a process that has no clear end and it may take years to fully mourn the loss of a loved one. Feelings of guilt are normal as you move through bereavement as your loved one enters your thoughts less and less.
There is a societal stigma about seeking professional mental health therapy. People consider their mind as something they can control and through personal strength and will they can solve their problems. Being the strong one or working so hard that you don’t have time to think about let alone grieve your loss leads to living years with unresolved trauma that manifests itself in not easily connected health and behavioral issues.
Consider that chronic pain or fatigue maybe rooted in a loss that occurred years before that you thought you dealt with or forgot all about.
If you think you may need help, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why you shouldn’t?
- Is it financial?
- Can’t find the time?
- How your mourning may impact someone else?
- I need to be strong for them?
- Are you responsible to keep everyone happy?
- If I am sad they will be too
- Would my loved one want me to feel this way?
- Would they?
The need to strongly consider professional help if you experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm, serious changes in weight, or are unable to perform daily functions such as getting out of bed or going to work for more than an occasional day.