What do we know about grieving? Grief can be experienced in various ways, often we immediately think of death of a loved one however grief can be triggered by a divorce, chronic or permanent disease, job loss, violence, severe accident, loss of pets, close one serving in our great military, financial position, retirement and many more conditions that can affect our daily lives. Personally I don’t believe you can compare ones grieving experience with another as each situation has different circumstances.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a bestseller book on Death on Dying, which from her research derived the famous five stages of grief. Those stages are as follows; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. This information is used nationally and stands precise to this day. If you feel that you are stuck in any of these stages I recommend that you seek counsel to move you along in the process.
One of my personal experiences with grief was in November 2006 when my mother passed away three days before Thanksgiving. My first thought was “I don’t want to do Thanksgiving!” I had no desire to be thankful for anything or anyone at that moment. When I was able to join family and friends at Thanksgiving since my emotions were raw they took over me and I experienced a huge amount of anger and confusion. I got angry and confused because I couldn’t understand the lack of pain and sadness others weren’t feeling around me. I thought to myself, “How dare people have the audacity to go on with their normal daily life when my life was torn to pieces.” I mean, “How can these people smile on Thanksgiving?” My next thought was once I get my mom buried that everything would feel better and absolve. Somehow I was waiting for the pain of loss and grief to hurry and get over. I wanted quick relief looking to just get over it; little did I know that the hard part had just begun.
If you’re grieving this holiday season with pain and sadness let me ask – are you facing the challenges head on or just looking to get over it quickly? What I have learned is if you look to get over the loss and pain it will never happen, you have to look to endure and go through those situations moving on with forward motion!
Now let’s look at what steps we can take to start the process of dealing with loss and grief. There are many approaches however I will share five steps that have been effective for me and what I share in counseling my clients. 1) Scale back your obligations, don’t try and jump right back in a normal routine. 2) Cry it out as much as needed. It’s OK. 3) Avoid self-medicating. It can be harmful and lead you down a dark road when ultimately you will have to go back to the starting point dealing with the original issue and emotions. 4) If you feel like you are going to need medications such as anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, sleeping aids, etc. Please seek out your family doctor, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or any professional that can prescribe the correct medication and dosage. 5) Seek out counseling whenever and wherever needed such as with your local church, grief groups, psychologists, life coach, case workers, couples support groups and others. Reaching out to others that may have had similar experiences can often be rewarding.
During this season if you are experiencing grief or loss in your life may perhaps this article will give you tools and methods to continue that forward motion of healing.