Coping with Grief

Coping with losing a loved one is one of life's great difficulties. If you have experienced the pain of mourning, you know that any way to ease the loss is welcomed. While our knowledge and study of grief continues to evolve, it's important to note that not everyone grieves the same way: We have individual patterns and outlets for grief.

Grief can manifest itself in the form of immense emotional and physical suffering, and we may experience anything from anger to denial, to guilt, to sadness and despair. Initially, people who experience grief may experience confusion, shock, and disbelief that their loved one has passed. However, after the initial shock has passed, highly distressful emotions can contribute to anxiety, extreme fatigue, crying fits, dreams and even nightmares about the deceased.

Grief manifests itself in a number of ways, not only sadness. Depending on the circumstances, even anger and rage may overcome us. We might find ourselves talking to or even cursing at the dead people we loved or “hated.” We might think, “How could you do this to me?” “Why did you leave me?” “Why were you so thoughtless?” “Why did you take the risks you did?” or “Why didn’t you go to the doctor?” Sometimes, it is easier to be mad than sad, since sadness, grief, and depression are psychological and even physiological states of powerlessness and vulnerability.

Part of the reason that our experience of grief is so painful is because we must learn how to let go of our attachments following a significant loss. Attachments or bonds that we form with significant people in our lives continue to exist even in the absence of that person. In our protest of separation from our bond with our loved one, we may have anxiety and difficulty comprehending the loss, an experience known as numbing, which can lead to feelings of shock, denial or disbelief, especially when the death occurs unexpectedly.