Cope with grief
All of us at some point in our lives will be faced with the loss of an important and beloved person. Such a loss is accompanied by difficult and painful emotions such as initial shock (especially when the loss is sudden and unexpected), guilt, anger, sadness, emotions which are nevertheless an integral part of what we call the mourning process.
It is therefore important to initially recognize, understand and finally accept that these feelings, even if they sometimes seem extreme, are normal and the person suffering needs time in order to reach the final phase of acceptance and move on.
It is worth mentioning that the losses that can lead us to the state of mourning are beyond the definitive loss of death, the separation from a relationship, the loss of an important job.
Bereavement counseling may be necessary for people to understand the stages of the situation they are experiencing and to help them express their feelings. It can also help to dispel myths such as, for example, that whoever does not cry does not mourn, etc.
The form of manifestation of mourning can differ from person to person, a fact that may be due to the different psychological makeup of each person but also to the different elements of their personality as a whole as well as to the way mourning is experienced by the persons in their intimate environment.
So there are people who mourn without having any significant discomfort and without significantly limiting their social and professional life, as long as it exists. In this case the grieving process is a period of healing the mental wound.
However, some people may lack the appropriate mental mechanisms and skills to control their emotions, making it very difficult to manage a loss and the grief that inevitably accompanies it.
The stages of grief
Experts have described a normal pattern that grief follows during the first year of losing a loved one.
This pattern includes certain stages which are healthy mental reactions that come to the surface as the person tries to make sense of the loss and which are not necessarily binding and the same for all people. It is important to understand the temporal sequence of this process so as not to misinterpret some normal reactions as pathological.
In the following we will try to describe these phases.
The first phase is the so-called numbness. Shock, disbelief and denial of the fact prevail. Denial works protectively and helps the person handle only as much information as they can handle. As he gradually accepts the loss the denial disappears. This happens strongly in the cases of a sudden loss.
The second phase is the feeling of longing. The person who is grieving longs to see the person they lost again. He may cry or reminisce, feel guilty and angry, or even have vivid dreams or hallucinations. This phase constitutes the so-called core of mourning because it is a period of deepest pain and misery. The emotion of anger emerges and is an integral stage of the healing process. Anger can be directed at family, friends, self or even a higher power, god.
The third phase is the phase of disorganization or even despair. The person experiences feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. He slowly realizes the magnitude of the loss. This can lead him to withdraw from some activities or do them without feeling pleasure and satisfaction. He may also not sleep well and not eat properly or have concentration and memory difficulties.
The fourth phase is the reorganization phase. The person accepts the loss and takes action by starting to put things in order in their life. The feeling of loss is there as well as the pain but it is milder. The simple popular expression “life goes on” states that there are daily stimuli and challenges that push the individual to act by moving forward without forgetting his past. Consequently, he can create friendships, set new goals without forgetting the past. He begins to form a new identity with elements of the old and the new ones that emerged from the intense experience he lived. Because it is important to say that any form of renegotiation with ourselves adds knowledge and wisdom to us.
There are also cases when the person feels that he cannot cope adequately with the powers he has or regresses to a previous stage or even more so experiences a state of chronic or selected stress so he needs