The intensity of your grief is directly related to the strength of your attachment to what was lost. Sharing and talking about your loss is an important part of healing. Talking with someone helps you begin to acknowledge the reality of your loss. Accept that all feelings are okay and all are both a normal and necessary part of healing. Identify your feelings, name them, talk about them, and write about them.
The intensity of your feelings can make you feel out of control and overwhelm your normal coping strategies. The feelings of grief are like the waves of the ocean. There is no right way to deal with grief and people deal with grief differently. What is most important is NOT to bury your grief or avoid it. The key to dealing with grief is to embrace it and to allow all the varying feelings of grief to flow. The specific feelings of grief vary with each phase of the grief process.
In the beginning, you avoid accepting your loss with feelings of shock, denial, and anger. Towards the 9 month mark, you start to confront the reality of your loss and your more intense feelings of sadness, anger, heartbreak, fear, guilt and depression. Somewhere in the second year you start to accept your loss and start to make accommodations in your life for your loss.
Healing Strength : Loss: Recognizing Loss in Your Life and Overcoming It
Your feelings begin to feel less intense and you experience more moments of peace and happiness. Just as you cannot stop the waves in the ocean, you cannot stop the feelings of grief. You can only ride the wave of your grief and find a comfortable place to express it.
Find time to be with your pain now; postponed grief returns later. Connect yourself with what you have lost, your old sense of self or the person you lost. When you are ready, use memory triggers, such as, photos, clothing, or a special place in your home to be at peace and feel nurtured. Remember, everyone experiences the phases of grief differently and there is no timetable. As people experience the process of grief, they will move in and out of each phase more than once. Avoidance Phase Shock, numbness, denial, and disbelief are the initial reactions to grief.
We are overwhelmed with feelings of unreality, and the life we are living in now feels surreal.
This is particularly true with an unexpected loss. It takes time for the shock to wear off and denial allows individuals to accept parts of their new reality a little at a time. Protesting the loss and feeling angry happen when you step out of your shock and denial and start to accept your new reality. Unfortunately, there are often no answers, and of course it is not fair. After asking the same questions over and over and after expressing anger and frustration, many people begin to move into the next phase of intense sadness.
Yearning and searching for what you lost is another way of protesting the loss. Again there are no answers to these thoughts. When you hear yourself using these phrases, picture a barrier at the top of a slope and stop yourself from finishing the thought. During this phase there is the sensation that it was a mistake; everything will go back to the way it was, my loved one is going to walk through the door any minute or my health will return. This sensation is usually gone by the 9th month and many people experience this as a particularly intense period of grieving.
Somewhere around this time, you begin to move in and out of the avoidance phase and into the confrontation phase as you confront the reality that you will not find what you lost. Confrontation Phase This phase starts with the recognition that your life will not return to the way it was. You have moved beyond feeling that your life is surreal and into recognizing that the way your life is now is your new normal.
Your grief during this time is very intense with your feelings being very acute and at times overwhelming, resulting in a state of disorganization. Angry-sadness, depression-sadness, despair, heartbreak, fear, guilt, and disorganization are characteristic reactions once the grieving person has expressed their initial anger and frustration at the loss. This is when mourning starts and embracing the pain is very important. At this time people feel very tired and very sad.
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The extreme tiredness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, and the feelings of helplessness are all characteristics of both grief and depression. It is easy to begin to describe yourself as depressed when you are feeling the intense feelings of sadness and grief. It is more helpful to describe this non-productive, reflective time as sadness and grief.
Instead, there was a sudden destruction of the world you used to know. There was no gradual transition, nor time to make changes in yourself, your expectations about your life, or your world.
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In sudden death you are called upon to face a massive gap between the way the world should be, with your loved one alive, and the way the world is. The person whom you loved, and who provided you with security, is taken away without any warning. This is a major violation of your expectations. Your sense of the world and of control is assaulted.
The difference is that they have had a valuable period of anticipation that placed the death in the context of events that were predictable and made sense. Although they experienced pain when their loved one died, they could see what caused the death. Ideally, they had been preparing for the death and dealing with their feelings about it. They were able to finish unfinished business with their loved one, to say "I love you," and to do the things they wanted to do for the person before he died.
The loss makes sense. The critically important understanding of what happened is missing. The sudden shock of losing someone we love without warning so stuns us that we cannot comprehend what has transpired. Consequently, if your loved one died suddenly, you may be unable to grasp the situation and find it difficult to understand the implications of the loss.
Accepting that the death occurred can be difficult, even if you intellectually recognize that it happened.
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The death may continue to seem inexplicable for a long period of time. You repeatedly will have to go over the story of the accident or of the heart attack to try to make sense of the loss after the fact. Get advice and support articles delivered to your inbox.
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Because you were not prepared for the death and it had no understandable context, you will try to deal with your lack of anticipation by putting the loss into a series of events. You may find yourself looking back at the time leading up to the death and searching for clues that could have indicated what was to come. This tendency to reconstruct events in your mind in order to allow for some anticipation of the death is quite common.
Maybe he knew that something would happen. It gives a perception of logical progression, of control and predictability, and retrospectively provides you with some anticipation and preparation. However, problems arise when you hold yourself responsible for not perceiving cues that were actually either imperceptible or nonexistent prior to the death.
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Frequently grievers react emotionally and respond to what they perceive as unmet responsibility. One woman felt inordinate guilt for many years for not recognizing that her mother had been having some difficulty climbing the stairs. However, unless this woman had been a physician and had run tests on her mother, there really was no way she could have known.
For survivors whose loved ones die suddenly, grief symptoms tend to persist longer. The physical and emotional shock that is a normal part of acute grief appears to be more intense and long-lasting. This may further demoralize you as you are trying to understand what happened to you and to cope with a drastically altered world, in addition to dealing with your feelings of loss and grief.
You have the same grief tasks as all mourners, but you must cope with extra stresses that leave you relatively more depleted and disadvantaged. If you have lost a loved one from sudden death, you know that you had no chance to say good-bye and no opportunity to finish unfinished business with your loved one. Most probably these are major issues for you. The lack of time to bring this important relationship to a positive close causes much anguish to those of us whose loved ones die without warning.
We wish that we could have known in order to say and do what we wanted to; we wish we could have just one more brief moment with our loved one to tell him we loved him, apologize for ways we might have hurt him, explain why we treated him the way we did, or let him know what he meant to us. You may feel a profound loss of security and confidence in the world. After all, you have been taught a dramatic lesson: Loved ones can be snatched away without warning.
You may always await another loss to befall. Research has shown that widows whose husbands died suddenly are slower to move toward remarriage, since they are unwilling to risk future unanticipated loss again for themselves and their children. Avoidance and anxiety eventually can lead to states of anxious withdrawal since the world has become such a frightening, unpredictable place.
Related Healing Strength: Loss: Recognizing Loss in Your Life and Overcoming It
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