Spring is just
around the corner; new life, new color, new hope. But for many who are
experiencing a loss of some kind, the promise of spring is difficult to
envision and even harder when it arrives. Because while many people
feel light, joyful and renewed, those experiencing a loss may be deep
in the trenches of grief, and find it difficult to take part in the
celebration of new life, in the happiness and hope that usually
accompany Spring. (Sadly enough, suicide rates are highest in the
springtime, precisely for this reason).
Often times we associate grief
only with the death of someone we know and love. But grief can be felt
by anyone experiencing the loss of anything of real value about which
she or he cares. Grief can be experienced any time there is a
significant change or transition in someone's life, because change is
most often accompanied by loss of some kind, or giving something up.
Moving to a new house, losing one's job, ending a relationship, losing
one's health, loss of a pet, loss of a dream, as well as loss of
self-control, loss of trust, or loss of freedom. Even the usually
celebratory event of welcoming a baby into a family involves some
losses and therefore some grief. The old way of being together as a
couple or as a family must be given up. Small daily habits must be
changed -- sleep patterns, meal times and weekend activities all may
need to be altered to help fold this new life into the family.
transitions or losses are the cause of your grief; know that grief is
not a single event or occurrence, but rather a process. Denial,
Bargaining, Anger, Depression and Acceptance are well-known stages of
grief that a person may go through. Despite the linear sequence of the
steps as presented here, know that each person moves through her or his
own process in her or his own way and according to her or his own
timeline, and that each person may cycle through these steps many times
for years to come.
grief reactions can vary across a broad spectrum depending on the
individual and her or his circumstances. Some of the more common
reactions to loss are listed below, broken down into emotional,
physical, mental and behavioral reactions.
Emotionally -- Some feelings that may occur
|| Guilt |
|| Fatigue |
|| Depression |
Physically -- Some sensations that may be experienced include:
| Hollowness in stomach
|| Tightness in chest, throat |
| Sense of Depersonalization (nothing seems real)
| Lack of energy
Mentally -- Some thoughts/cognitions may include:
|| Preoccupation |
Sense of presence
|| Doubting, questioning |
| (of the
Behaviorally -- Some noticeable
changes in behavior may include:
|| Dreams of the deceased |
| Searching/calling out
Absent-minded behavior |
|| Avoiding reminders of the deceased |
Know that all of these thoughts,
feelings and behaviors are a normal part of the grief process. Grieving
is a normal process, even though it hurts.
What can you do to get through
this process? Some coping mechanisms to help you move through the grief
- Share your thoughts and
feelings with trusted family members and friends. Having and using your
support system is critical.
- Do some journaling
or perform a ceremony or ritual to call forth any untapped feelings.
Take care of yourself. Be gentle with your physical, mental, emotional
and spiritual self.
- If you feel stuck, unable to
express your emotions, or find yourself using unhealthy coping
mechanisms (over-eating, smoking, drinking, drugs, etc.), contact a
So, when should you be "over" all
the hurt and pain? First remember it's a process, so be gentle with
yourself and don't rush yourself (or anyone else). Second, know that a
person never completely recovers – an emptiness may remain for years to
come, and certain emotional insecurities and issues may remain. Sadness
may come back, washing over you in waves on special days or in certain
circumstances. But take heart – there will come a time when you feel
like the worst is over, like some healing has occurred and you are
ready to move forward with your life ... spring is not far off, and
with the spring comes hope.