In the Flow with Healing Waters

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Coping with loss

This summer has been hard. In June I lost one of my best friends after a long battle with cancer. In July my brother lost his battle with cancer. The day after my brother passed my 90 year old mom with dementia fell and broke her hip, she’s now on hospice.

The range of emotions have been overwhelming at times and mentally and physically exhausting. Losing my friend and brother came with gratitude that they wouldn’t be suffering any longer and at the same time I’m in disbelief and that I’ll see them again soon.

It’s been many years since I’ve had a friend or family member close to me die. I came across some articles that I found helpful during these past couple of months. Maybe you will read something that will be helpful to you as well.

Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life‘s biggest challenges. Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Sometimes the feelings can be overwhelming. You might experience all kinds of difficult or unexpected emotions from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt or profound sadness. The pain of grief can disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat or even think straight. These are all normal reactions, and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.

Most people associate grieving with the death of a loved one which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief, but any loss can cause grief, including a divorce or relationship break up, loss of your health, losing a job, a miscarriage, retirement, death of a pet, loss of a cherished dream, loss of a friendship, losing someone to dementia, selling the family home.

Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so don’t feel ashamed about how you feel or believe that it’s somehow only appropriate to grieve for certain things. If the person, animal, relationship or situation was important to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing.

Emotional symptoms of grief

Shock and disbelief. Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If a pet or someone you love has died, for example, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.

Sadness. Profound sadness is probably the most common symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.

Guilt. You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may feel guilty about certain feelings (feeling relieved when a person died after a long, difficult illness). You may even feel guilty for not doing more to prevent your loss, even if it was completely out of your hands.

Fear. A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. If you’ve lost your partner, your job, or your home, you may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure about the future. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.

Anger. Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry with yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone.

Physical symptoms of grief

We often think of grief as strictly emotional, but the mind body connection is so strong that grief often involves physical problems like

Lowered immunity
Weight loss or weight gain Aches and pains Insomnia

Working through grief

While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief, and eventually find a way to pick up the pieces and start moving forward with life again, knowing it will be different.

  • ●  acknowledge your pain
  • ●  know that grief can trigger many different emotions
  • ●  understand your grieving process is unique to you
  • ●  seek out face to face support from people who care about you
  • ●  take care of yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically Coping with loss reminds me a lot of riding a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, your lows may be deeper and longer. The lows will gradually become less intense with time, but it takes time to work through loss. Be kind to yourself and carve out time to spend with family or friends that you trust to help support you through your lows. Taking care of yourself as you grieve When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time. Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems. Express your feelings in a tangible way. Even if you’re not able to talk about your loss with others, it can help to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Try to maintain your interests. There’s comfort in routine and getting back to the activities that bring you some normalcy or joy.

Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, and find moments of joy.

Look after your physical health. The mind and body are so connected. When you feel healthy physically, you’ll be better able to cope emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.

Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and important milestones can reawaken painful memories and feelings. Be prepared for extra emotions and know that it’s completely normal. You can plan ahead by making sure that you’re not alone.

In the flow of life,