Emotions & Grieving

Grieving is a natural emotional response to loss.

Grieving for the loss of a loved one can be an extremely
intense, emotional, and, quite frankly, exhausting experience.
The act of grieving can be quite taxing mentally,
emotionally, and physically.

It’s not unusual for the grief experience, and the pain
associated with the loss, to feel overwhelming
and never-ending.

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Grief is personal

During the grief process, there are often several conflicting and unexpected emotions that arise. Moods and feelings can quickly shift from anger to sadness, from shock to guilt, from questioning to complete and utter numbness. Keep in mind that grief is a highly individual experience and each person has the right to grieve in their own way.

The way in which people grieve is specific and unique to themselves. How you grieve depends on lots of different factors, including your usual coping mechanisms, overall personality, belief system, support network, etc.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
There is no set timeline for grieving.

Grief is a process that, much like a journey, will take time.

Learning more about emotions and the grieving process can help you through your own grieving journey. Remember: everyone grieves differently, so how you grieve is how you grieve.

Keep reading for information and ideas to help in your healing.

Allow yourself to feel and to grieve

Because people experience grief and loss in their own way, recognize that the feelings you have are your own personal feelings. You may be experiencing a whole bunch of different feelings, some of which may conflict with one another.

Please understand that this is okay. These are your feelings and this is your grief journey.

Here are some things you can do to help cope with your feelings:

  • Woman-Looking-At-The-Ocean

    Try to open yourself up and truly feel your
    feelings.

  • Person-With-Hoodie-Looking-At-Ocean-From-Height

    Accept your feelings and understand that
    they arefine just the way they are.

  • Woman-Trying-To-Relax-In-Appartment

    Remind yourself of this truth: You will survive
    this.

  • Woman-Relsxing-At-Ocean-Afternoon

    Know that grieving takes time and that this
    is the journey you are now on.

  • Tourist-In-Busy-City-Blurred-Lights

    Give yourself time to process the loss of your
    loved one.

Throughout this journey, please know that it is okay for you to take breaks and deep breaths along the way. Grieving is a process. Be gentle with yourself. Be nurturing. This will take time.

Range of emotions

The loss of a loved one is one of if not the most difficult losses you will ever experience. When this happens, it is very common to feel a wide range of emotions. Some of the emotions you may feel include:

  • Ambivalence
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Disbelief
  • Helplessness
  • Agitation
  • Loss of interest
  • Shock
  • Humiliation
  • Mood swings
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Loneliness
  • Crying
  • Irritability
  • Numbness
  • Confusion
  • Fear
  • Blaming
  • Despair
  • Jealousy
  • Sadness

Since this isn’t a list of all possible emotions, it can help to know that you may experience many other emotions. There are many, many different emotions that are a common reaction to loss. It’s also quite common to experience several different emotions at the same time.

Mood shifts and changes

You can expect the intensity and duration of your emotions to change with time. Moods also may change rapidly. These changes may have you feeling completely overwhelmed. You may even begin to question your ability to make it through; what we call “overall resiliency.”

Hear us when we say, you are resilient. You will survive this. Please know that these wide, varying, and changing emotions are not only normal and appropriate, they’re actually helpful to you.

It will take time to fully comprehend the intense and extensive impact of your loss. Allowing yourself to begin to grieve will help you in acknowledging your feelings.

It also will help with beginning to cope with the feelings you have about your loss.

Grieving is a necessary process. There are a vast array of emotions and thoughts for you to work through. It will take time.

While you’re grieving, don’t be surprised if you experience rapid shifts and changes in your moods. These changes are frequently experienced reactions to loss.

Remember that you are trying to process all that happened as well as everything that you are feeling. It is a lot. The intensity and depth of your emotions can be overwhelming and crushing.

As a way of dealing with it, your mind and your body may shift from one thought or feeling to another. Because of these shifts, you may start to have some concern about your mental sanity and overall resilience.

Be patient with yourself. You will survive this. You are healing.

What you’re feeling and experiencing is healthy and necessary to help you in processing your loss. This will take time. Everything associated with your grieving is aimed at helping you to heal.

 

  • Woman-Enjoying-Nature-In-Open-Fields

    Be comforting to yourself.

  • Woman-Taking-Deep-Breath

    Take deep breaths.

  • Woman-Sitting-Beside-Lake

    Allow yourself to feel and grieve.

  • Two-Persons-Holding-Hands

    Share what you are feeling with others you trust.

Stages of grief

As we’ve said, everyone grieves in their own, personal, and unique way. There also are some things common to just about everyone in grieves.

With these two things in mind, Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross came up with what’s known as The 5 Stages of Grief™:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Again, it is extremely important to remember that everyone grieves differently. Some individuals may not experience all or any of these stages. Others may experience all or a few of these stages. Grief and its stages are completely individual and unique.

 

Denial

The early grief stage of denial can help you survive your loss. During this stage, you may feel completely overwhelmed with denial about what has happened. You may feel in shock. There is no meaning. Things do not make sense. You may feel numb. You may cling to the hope that the news of your loved one is wrong.

Denial can help you withstand the initial moments of disbelief and shock. In general, our minds only allow us to process as much as we can manage. Denial is a helper because it paces your feelings of
grief. So, rather than becoming fully overwhelmed and debilitated
with grief, you may deny its occurrence, thereby delaying its
complete impact on you.

As you begin to ask questions and accept the reality of your loss,
you begin to heal. When this happens, you begin to experience the feelings you initially suppressed.

 

Anger

Anger is a stage of grief that allows for continued healing. By feeling anger, you begin to get to the underlying emotions of pain and hurt. You may be in so much pain that anger helps to insulate you from feeling all of it at once.

You may lash out at life, at others, at God. Your anger may have no limits. During this stage, many questions may arise. Most notably, you might scream out, “Why?! Why did this happen?” and “This just does not make sense!” and “Why did God allow this to happen?”

You may be filled with so much fury that you simply don’t know what to do with it. Your anger is covering your pain. And instead of unveiling your true feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, and inconsolable hurt, you demonstrate strength in anger.

You have been wronged and abandoned and everyone will know about it. So, instead of focusing on the hurt associated with the loss, you focus on the anger. This anger is a bridge to healing. It is an indication of the depth of love that you have for the person you lost. To get to your deeper feelings of hurt, however, you must cross the bridge of anger. Again, it is a process that takes time.

 

Bargaining

During grief, you may find yourself bargaining with God to bring your loved one back. It’s normal to continuously ruminate in a state of bargaining like this: “I will do anything if I can have them back.” “Please God – I will always treat everyone with love and kindness if You bring them back.” “I will do anything. Just please, please bring them back. Please!”

Like many people, you, too, may get caught up in “if/then” statements, pleading to God for change: “God, if you bring them back then I will …” If you do this, it’s because you so deeply want to go back in time and change the events.

You also can find yourself immersed in bargaining thoughts and please. Oftentimes, the bargaining statements and thoughts are
joined with feelings of guilt and self-blame. You blame yourself and feel guilty for what’s happened. So, you continue to put the past on repeat, going over and over it in your mind, continuously thinking about how you could have acted, behaved, or done something differently. You may even find fault in yourself, which leads to self-anger, which tends to cover the hurt and pain. This type of thinking also is a natural part of the grieving process.

 

Depression

Another stage of grief happens when you shift your focus into the present moment. You find that your grief is deeply entrenched in intense sadness and depression. You become consumed with the emotional hurt associated with this loss.

The depression is all-consuming, and you may feel like it will never end. The intense sadness is joined by a desire to withdraw and isolate from everything and everyone.

It’s important to understand that this is a natural and appropriate response to experiencing loss. It does not mean that you have a mental illness or dysfunction. It simply means that you are actively grieving.

Depression is a natural reaction to losing a loved one and it is an essential step along the grieving journey. With it, you are struggling to process what has happened and to understand how you will survive this loss. Grieving takes time and you may find yourself moving from one stage of grief to another on a minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour basis. Again, it is a process so give yourself the time you need.

 

Acceptance

This stage is a little confusing and tricky for most people. You may
think that acceptance refers to becoming “okay” with the loss of your loved one. This is not the case.

You, like most people, may never feel “all right” about what has happened. Instead, the stage of acceptance is about accepting reality as reality.

Your loved one is no longer physically present with you. You may never fully like this reality, but eventually learn to accept this new reality as it is. This is a new norm in which you learn to live.

At the beginning of acceptance, you may try to maintain life as it was before the loss of your loved one. However, over time, you begin to readjust, restructure, and reorganize your life.

As you slowly change, you begin to live again. You start to enjoy life and the people around you. When this happens, however, you may feel guilty and conflicted about experiencing joy. You may feel as if you are betraying your loved one. This is common.

Remember, you are in a process of understanding that even though you’ve lost someone you love, you can still grow, change, and begin living once again. You can reach out, form new relationships, develop new bonds, and connect with important others in your lives. You have accepted what has happened. You have accepted where you are and how you feel. And you have allowed the grieving process to take place.

Coping with your loss and your grief is important to your overall mental and emotional well-being. Here are some strategies you can use to help yourself effectively cope with the pain and grief you are feeling.

Stages of grief

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Accept your feelings

Individuals experience grief and loss in different ways. The feelings you are experiencing are unique to you. They are your own individual feelings. It is common to experience a wide range of feelings. Many of these feelings are painful, uncomfortable, and may even contradict one another. All of these feelings are appropriate to your grief journey.
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Share Your Feelings

Discuss how you feel and what you are experiencing with a loved one or friend. Be open and honest. Share all of your feelings, even those that are confusing or appear to make no logical sense. Oftentimes, people want to isolate when confronted with loss. This only leads to more distress and delays the healing process. Sharing your feelings can help to ease your pain and distress.
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Take Care of Yourself

The grieving process can be quite grueling, taking its toll on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. In order to heal and manage daily activities, be sure to make it a priority to take care of the various dimensions of your personal health. Eating healthy, doing some type of physical activity, getting quality sleep, and tending to your emotional health really can be beneficial to your healing process.
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Spend Time with Your Loved Ones

Spending time with loved ones helps you to process and cope with what has happened. Sharing stories and cherished memories aids in the healing process, and also serves to build positive and intimate connections with others. Also, just being with each other can lend itself to feelings of support, cohesion, and togetherness. It is important to realize that you are not alone in this loss. Others are also grieving. Spending time with each other allows you and your loved ones to collectively grieve and rely upon one another.
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Attend a Survivorship Support Group

You are not alone. There are others who have survived the loss of suicide. Attending a support group can help to provide you with support from individuals who have gone through what you are going through. It can be especially healing to hear the stories of how others have traveled along their grief journey.
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Allow Yourself the Time to Grieve

Grieving the loss of a loved one takes time. You will experience many thoughts and feelings and have many questions. There will be shifts in moods and changes in emotions. Sometimes things may seem very overwhelming. This is common and appropriate to grieving. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Be nurturing. This will take time. Allow yourself the time to process and feel.
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Focus on the Present Moment

You may feel inundated with questions and uncertainties. Avoid thinking way off into the future. Try to slow everything down and just focus on the present moment. Focus on the current moment and what is happening in front of you. Try staying in each moment and addressing the needs of that moment. Remember that there are many other survivors who have endured and grown through what you are experiencing. The feelings of emotional distress and depression will not remain forever. Stick to the present moment. This will help to make things more manageable for you.
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Contact a Mental Health Professional

Mental health professionals are experts at helping people process and express feelings of grief and intense emotion. If you feel that your grief is overbearing and unmanageable, then please contact a mental health professional. There are mental health professionals located throughout communities who are willing and able to help. Help yourself by reaching out to one for assistance. Sharing your feelings with a mental health professional is another way to help you process your grief and move towards healing.