An emotional, physical and spiritual necessity
The loss of a loved one is perhaps the most distressing experience we will ever face. Each of us are bound to experience grief during the course of our lives. Whilst everyone’s response to grief is unique, the expected reaction for many will include the adoption of emotions such as shock, anger, sorrow or guilt. These emotions and feelings are both natural and temporary. They tend to gradually ease over time as we reach some semblance of acceptance that our loved ones are no longer with us.
It is common however, for people to experience a response to grief that is both severe and debilitating. Such symptoms feel impossible to overcome as they fail to improve over time. This is known as complicated grief. We can gage whether we are experiencing complicated grief if a year or more has passed since the death occurred and we still have difficulty in managing the following grief phases.
- Reaching a sense of acceptance that your loved one is gone.
- Confronting the pain that you feel inside.
- Adjusting to a life in which the deceased is no longer present.
- Establishing new relationships.
Conversely, it is likely that you will instead be experiencing other grief indicators such as intense sadness, an inability to focus, a sense of pining for the deceased and a sense of detachment from the general day to day routine of life. Depressive feelings may well ensue. These feelings can manifest in different ways. For example, you come to feel that life no longer holds meaning for you, or may experience a complete lack of trust in the people around you.
You are also a likely candidate for complicated grief if you have witnessed the traumatic death of a loved one. Perhaps the death was sudden, perhaps it was unexpected or violent, like for instance a road accident or a murder. Other initiating factors could include the death of a child, a past traumatic history or a sheer lack of a support system. Financial difficulties or accumulated life stressors can also contribute to a complex response to your personal grief journey.
When to Seek Help
If you find that you are unable to carry out your day to day routines or that you are increasingly isolating yourself from people or social situations, it is important that you seek support right away. Additional signs that warrant immediate attention include the belief that you are in some way to blame for the death, if you strongly harbour the wish that you had died alongside your loved one or if you feel that life is no longer worth living.
“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”José N. Harris
It is so very important that you recognise that shame is a natural grief response. What has happened was not your fault. Despite it feeling impossible right now, you can recover from this. It is essential that you contact a doctor or a mental health professional if you are struggling to cope.
Another thing to note, is that it is normal for people experiencing complicated grief to feel suicidal. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts it is essential that you confide in someone that you trust. If you feel that you will act on your suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to contact the emergency services right away.
Don’t Downgrade Grief
The ordeal of a complex grief response is not to be underestimated. A relentless, continuous feeling of despair teamed with hopelessness can prove detrimental to our physical, mental and emotional health. Although the desire to cope alone will be prevalent for most people, without the right support, the impact can be considerable. In addition to suicidal thoughts, risk factors include
depression, anxiety, an inability to sleep, substance abuse, high blood pressure as well as other health abnormalities, not to mention a difficulty in sustaining successful relationships.
When you feel able, I encourage you to attain therapeutic support. Grief counselling will allow you the opportunity to explore your feelings within a safe and confidential setting. Counselling will help you through your pain and assist you in paving a way forwards by confronting whatever it is that is preventing you from processing your feelings.
Ultimately, we never fully get past our grief. Whilst carrying the memory of our loved ones in our hearts and in our minds we must somehow learn to go on. Do not give up.
Wishing you strength and courage,
My Bi-Weekly Advice Column
This blog featured in the News on Sunday, a popular newspaper owned by the DefiMedia Group in Mauritius, which covers local and international news, culture and entertainment.
If you are looking for professional and qualified advice in and around Sitges (Spain), then please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org More information about myself and the services I offer can be found here at the Here to Help website.