There is probably nothing more life-changing than losing a loved one and the grief that accompanies it. Grief can shake us to our core – physically, emotionally and even cognitively.
According to Parks Funeral Home, a third-generation family-owned business in Summerville, loss is inevitable, but there are ways to cope with grief that can help us move past the pain.
Here are 8 things everyone who grieves the loss of a loved one should know:
1. You cannot ignore the pain.
Bottling up your emotions might get you through a night, or even a week, but the grief will manifest itself in other ways, most of them unproductive, like ulcers, social withdrawal and depression. Repressing pain doesn’t make it go away; it simply prolongs the process of grieving.
2. Everyone grieves their own way.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve the loss of a loved one. We all process the feelings differently. Grief also has no set timetable. Your healing may come quickly or slowly. Some people need years. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, or when to stop grieving.
3. Do something you love while you’re grieving.
One productive way to deal with grief is to immerse yourself in something you love and enjoy, whether that’s travel, art, sports, writing, helping others or something else. These activities give you time to process your emotions while adding joy back into your life.
4. Understand the grieving process
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief are a good guide to how you might feel while grappling with your emotions. However, they are not a hard-and-fast rule or a linear process. You may skip a stage, experience them out of order or bounce among stages at different times. The stages are:
- Denial: Failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion.
- Anger: A strong feeling of displeasure or hostility about what has happened.
- Bargaining: Negotiating your way out of the hurt and pain that you feel.
- Depression: Response to a great loss, causing someone to withdraw and feel intense sadness and wondering.
- Acceptance: Accepting the reality that your loved one is physically. gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality.
5. You cannot heal emotionally unless you take care of yourself physically.
The mind and body are connected. Sadness depresses the immune system, so it’s especially important during the grieving process to get enough sleep, eat well and exercise. Taking care of yourself is easier said than done, but it is a necessary component to maintain your health and well-being.
6. Seek out emotional support.
When you’re ready, share your feelings with people who care about you and will listen without judgment. You could seek professional help, or call a phone hotline where people are trained to listen and help you through your grief. Local churches, hospice and medical professionals can usually refer you to a grief therapy support group or specialist in your area, if you believe that you could benefit from professional support to help you understand the many different feelings you are experiencing.
7. Plan for trigger events.
Anniversaries, birthdays and holidays stir up memories and emotions. Acknowledge in advance that you may have a tough time with that and understand that it’s perfectly natural. If the event is shared with others, talk to them about it and find an appropriate way to honor your loved one.
8. Embrace life.
Life permanently changes in the wake of loss, but it goes on. Even though there will always be moments of grief and pain, the intensity of the pain ebbs over time. As you adjust to your “new” normal, be kind to yourself and allow yourself to move forward with life.
Since 1940, Parks Funeral Home has been proudly serving Summerville and Lowcountry families. Their family-owned business is able to provide the comfort, support, and experience needed to help loved ones get through a difficult time.