Dealing with Grief – Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

Losing a loved one is hard, but even harder is dealing with grief that consumes you after they are gone. Read the article below to understand how to deal with the emotions that you feel after losing your loved ones.

Dealing with grief when we lose a loved one is tough. We need to cope with different emotions and work at the same time. Statistics reveal that nearly 7.8% of adult Americans have faced

Understanding how we can manage the grief of the death of a loved one is integral. In this article, you will come across all the aspects of coping up with grief.

Dealing with Grief - Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

In Which Way Do People React To Grief?

  • Strong emotions: Many people possess strong emotions after stressful situations, for example, anger, guilt, sadness, hope, as well as acceptance of the situation. 
  • Physical reactions: Due to the constant overthinking and the recurring thoughts of the pain and hurt, a person might go through a physical reaction to the situation like crying, restlessness, concentration problems, low or no appetite, restlessness, insomnia, hypersomnia. 
  • Spiritual reactions: A person might find more faith in spiritual activities, and in God, they might start following various religious activities and develop a strong faith. 
  • Frequent thoughts: After the death of a loved one, a person might frequently remember any specific memory of the person. It can also be related to regrets or guilt that a person might develop. It can also be good memories related to happy activities in their life, their teachings, and virtue. 

Understanding The 5 Stages Of Grief In A Person’s Life

Broadly there are 5 stages of grief in any circumstance. How long and how impactful each of those stages are varies from person to person.

Some people accept the situation and are mentally strong enough to cope with it, which means the stages like denial and hurt pass by quickly. However, others may feel great distress due to those circumstances. Let’s discuss the stages of grief in a bit more detail.

#1 Shock and denial

People go through an overwhelming shock when they come across the news of losing someone. You recollect the memories you had spent with the person and feel how this could happen to you. 

How can you lose the person you met a couple of days before? In the beginning, people tend to deny, and it takes time for them to absorb and process the shocking news. 

This stage is the initial stage of grief, and a person tends to overcome the stage of shock and denial once they accept the situation. 

Examples: 

  • Job-related: How can I be fired from the job? They will surely understand this tomorrow and recruit me again. 
  • Death: She never left me. She will always be with me. 
  • Breakup: He understands me well. He won’t be upset tomorrow and cares for me just like he did.
Dealing with Grief - Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

#2 Pain and hurt

After hearing the shocking news, you move towards sadness. You start to think: how could this happen to me? Why did God take away the special person of my life? 

Many times people enter into a state of self-doubt and lose self-esteem because of the stressful event. The person is constantly thinking about stressful situations. 

Examples: 

  • Divorce: I had imagined my life very happily with him.
  • Job: I worked hard to attain this position.

#3 Anger

Everybody doesn’t enter this stage. But you carry bitterness and resentment in your heart in response to the situation. As one side of your brain makes rational decisions, you understand that you shouldn’t blame anyone. 

But, the feelings are too severe at that moment. As time passes on and your anger calms down, you begin to think more rationally. However, the intense feeling remains the same in the back of your mind. 

Examples: 

  • Breakup: He will always regret leaving me! I hate him!
  • Death: If he cared for himself and understood things well, this wouldn’t have happened.
  • Job loss: They are such bad people. I hope this happens to them also.

#4 Depression

At this time, you may be able to accept the situation and start working healthily. You may feel depressed when you are alone and not engaged in any of the tasks. 

The stressful condition strikes again in the form of the memories of the person. The memory can be related to a particular substance; it can be a song, place, gifts, and even food. 

Examples: 

  • Relationship: I will never be engaged to someone else. 
  • Job: This work is not for me. I won’t be able to accomplish this.

#5 The Up-turn (Bargaining)

At this point, you are no longer angry or depressed about the thing that has happened to you. You try to accept whatever has happened and forget the past.

Examples: 

  • Job: Whatever has happened was past, and everything happens for a good reason.

#6 Reconstruction and moving ahead

At this stage, you start to collect the pieces of your life and put them back together. You understand that whatever is happening cannot be changed. 

People move ahead and focus on the goals which they have determined. You can explore new things in this phase, evaluate your mistakes and start working on them. It can be through divorce, broken relationships, or past mistakes. 

Examples: 

  • Job: Maybe I had made a mistake in accomplishing my work properly.
  • Death: Perhaps I should start dating again.
  • Relationships: Maybe it couldn’t work due to the lack of effort and communication, but I won’t repeat this mistake in the future. 
Dealing with Grief - Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

How Can A Psychologist Help You Overcome Grief?

Psychologists can help you overcome grief and depression in various ways. You can take time and process the shocking news at your pace. These therapies may help you to overcome such situations gradually.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

When a person has a mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and severe stress, doctors suggest cognitive behavioral therapy. 

They understand your behavior and how the system conditions have negatively impacted life. After that, they focus on reframing and changing the targeted behaviors of the person. 

Commitment Therapy

Through this, they help you overcome grief. Six strategies are used in commitment or acceptance therapy. 

  • Accepting the negative emotions: In this step, psychologists want you to experience and accept the negative emotions you are going through. 
  • Cognitive defusion: In this step, people distance themselves from multiple emotions to make it easy for the psychologist to evaluate and examine those emotions.
  • Realize about the present: Through ACT, people are encouraged to focus more on the present and accept it to change their lives.
  • Understanding your experiences: in this step, you are encouraged to glance towards your experiences and make a note of them so that you can understand them when in your life.
  • Values: You should understand the values in your life and work on them to improve them.
  • Action: The last step is to take action on the good things you have decided in your life, try to overcome obstacles that come in between, and work hard on these actions. 
Dealing with Grief - Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

How Do Psychologists Help Children To Overcome Grief?

Children also suffer from grief due to the loss of a loved one or other stressful circumstances. 

Play therapy

With the help of play therapy, therapists understand the behavior of the children. They try to understand the instinctive behavior of the children by engaging with them. They might use dolls, puppets, toys and try to communicate with the children. Through this, they can question the child and understand their concerns.

Art therapy

With the help of art therapy, therapists ask children to draw a picture. This makes them understand the child’s creativity without much communication. This helps the therapist to understand what the child is grieving about and explore their sorrows and feelings. 

Narrative therapy

Through the narrative way, a therapist uses the book to make the child understand death and dying. They help them understand what happens when they move forward in life.

Dealing with Grief - Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

Managing End Of Life For Loved Ones

  • Support their spiritual needs: When it is certain that a person is about to die, then it is indispensable to support the person’s spiritual needs. 
  • Get their papers in order: Have they made a will for themselves? How do they wish to divide their estate after they are gone? Help them be more peaceful about their responsibilities after they are gone.
  • Provide comfort: When the doctors are sure that the person won’t live now, try to provide them comfort and assistance. Keep them acquired and try to do the things which make them happy. 
  • Fulfill their wishes: Many people have some goals and aims in their life. Try to fulfill their remaining wishes and help them achieve what they want to despite their bad health.
  • Inform people so that they can meet them: Inform people so that everybody can meet them and express their honor towards them.
  • Make them smile: Making our elders smile is an integral component of life. Make them laugh and help them recollect happy times of their life. Try to spend more time with them.
  • Express all your feelings: This is the last time you see the person, so try to express all your feelings and wishes you want to tell them. Don’t hide anything. Just express how you feel and love them. 

Side-Effects Of Grief

  • Emotional numbness
  • Shock
  • Physical pain
  • Depression and thoughts of suicide 
  • Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Frustration 
  • Hopelessness
  • Guilt
Dealing with Grief - Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

What Can You Do In The Memory Of Your Loved One?

  • Donate to the charity by their name.
  • Adopt and take care of the pet and plants.
  • Create a place where you keep all the fond memories.
  • Read their favorite books.
  • Plant their favorite plants and flowers.

What Can You Do To Overcome The Grief?

  • Exercise regularly: By exercising regularly, you can raise your spirits. Try to stay active and energize yourself by exercising and keep moving to be peaceful and mindful.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Getting sound sleep is important. You may fall sick if you don’t sleep well. Due to the depression or shock of the grief, you won’t be able to sleep, but keeping track of your sleep is essential.
  • Try meditation and mindfulness techniques: These methods help you to center your mind and stop you from continuously thinking about the deceased.
  • Reduce smoking and drinking excess alcohol: When a person is in grief, they are on the verge of drinking excess alcohol and smoking. So, try to cut down the alcohol intake and smoking.
  • Stop avoiding meals and make sure to drink water: When you are in a state of depression and grief, it becomes difficult for you to eat healthily but do not avoid meals, and if you don’t feel like eating, try to munch on healthy, nutritious snacks. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water because when a person is depressed, it becomes difficult to eat.
  • Divert your mind to positive work: Staying busy can help you through this circumstance. You can divert your mind into some positive work and reset your ambitions and goals. You can engage yourself in some social activities aur volunteer at some NGOs.
  • Seek support: When you are stressed due to losing a loved one, it is necessary to talk to your family and close friends. You can seek support from your neighbors and get assistance.
  • Start taking care of yourself: Taking care of yourself and incorporating some self-love in your daily routine may assist you.
  • Let your emotions come out: Don’t be harsh on yourself. Let all your emotions come out and talk to your near ones about it. If you feel like crying, then cry. Being strong is always recommended but letting out all your emotions is essential.
  • Be with the people who motivate you: Surround yourself with those dedicated to their goals and motivate you to accomplish your goals. 
Dealing with Grief - Managing Emotions When a Loved One Passes On

Frequently Asked Questions

What grieving does to your body?

When a person grieves badly, it becomes difficult for the person and it can even cause joint pains, back pains, and extreme fatigue and dizziness. You may enter into a state of depression.

For how long does a person usually grieve?

Recent studies have shown that a person who endures any stressful condition is known to grieve for a minimum of 4 months to 6 years. The stage of grieving is at its peak from the period of 4 to 6 months. 

Wrap up

Suffering from the death of a loved one and other stressful circumstances are draining. It is indispensable to understand how we can move ahead and put back the pieces of the life of their life. 

To overcome this unbearable pain make sure you seek help and practice some of the methods we have discussed above.

We hope we have helped you understand your grief in a better way. If you know of others who are in need of understanding these points, please make sure to pass on this information to them too.