Coping with the loss of a loved one

Dealing With The Loss

Losing a loved one can turn your world around and take a toll on your emotions. It can be a hard fact to accept but nevertheless, it happens to all of us. There is no right way to grieve, as everyone grieves and mourns differently. There are common stages and common feelings that people can go through, where you begin to heal and continue on with your life.

The Grieving Stages

Grief is defined by feelings and behaviours of someone at the death of someone close. A person's reaction to loss through death.

  • Denial and Isolation - Shock and denial occurs, where you are unable to concentrate or feel confused. A defence mechanism that blocks out words and hides the fact. It is a temporary response.
  • The Confrontation/Anger Phase - Feelings of anger, rage, envy, resentment and pain emerge as denial begins to wear. Extreme emotions directed at other people without any reason and bitter feelings. Your behaviour isn't the way you normally act.
  • Bargaining Phase - Reaction to feelings of helplessness and is a need to regain control. Common thoughts of "if only" to postpone the inevitable and attempts of making a deal to protect from the painful emotions.
  • Depression Phase - There are two types of depression that corresponds with mourning. One reaction where sadness and regret dominate, the worries that are related to loss. The second type where it is more subtle and more private. It is the quiet preparation to separate and bid the loss farewell.
  • Acceptance/Reestablishment Phase - Grief gradually goes away and better at coping. The loss is not forgotten but simply put away somewhere else where it can be remembered in a fonder light.

Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it.

How to cope and when to seek professional help

There are ways to cope with the grief and eventually, you'll reach a point where your feelings are not as intense as they once were. Dealing with grief could be:

  • Turning to friends and family members

  • Joining a support group

  • Facing your feelings

  • Expressing your feelings

  • Looking after your physical health

  • Not letting anyone tell you how to feel, and telling yourself how to feel either

As time goes by, emotions should be less intense. If you feel worse over time, speak to a professional right away. If untreated, complicated grief can lead to life-threatening health problems, and sometimes suicide. Contact a professional grief counsellor or therapist if you:

  • Feel like life isn’t worth living anymore
  • Wish you had died with your loved one as well
  • Blame yourself for the loss
  • Feel numb and disconnected from others
  • Are unable to perform your normal daily activities