Grief and Loss
- Terri Newman
Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something that is important to us. The loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce or significant break-up. A significant change in one’s health, the loss of a pet, a miscarriage, or the end of an important friendship or a major move. Loss is experienced during any major change in our life.
Physical symptoms include crying, headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, weakness, lack of energy, fatigue, feelings of heaviness, aches and pains. Emotional symptoms include worry, anxiety, stress, frustration, anger, guilt, depression, PTSD, sadness and yearning, suicidal thoughts, and actions. Social symptoms include feeling detached from others, isolating oneself from social contact, and behaving in ways that are out of character. Spiritual symptoms include questioning the reason for the loss, trying to find meaning and a reason for the loss, searching for the purpose of pain and suffering, trying to figure out the meaning of life and trying to understand the purpose of the death or loss.
And apart from the emotional and mental toll of grief, on a physical level grief can cause long-term difficulty in coping with daily living. It can attribute to significant sleep disruption, weight gain or loss, and alcohol and or substance abuse.
“The significance of an event tends to be linked to how effectively it was mourned” Marisa Peer
According to Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages of grief to work through, they are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Everyone grieves differently, you may or may not go through all these stages, or you may experience each of them in a different order. You may even move from one stage to another and then back again before fully moving into a new stage.
Denial: “This isn’t happening” feeling shocked and numb. This is an immediate but temporary response to the rush of overwhelming emotion they are being presented with. It is their body’s natural defence mechanism.
Anger: As reality sets in, they will be confronted with the pain of their loss and may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings eventually turn into anger, they might be angry with everyone around them, angry with the world and life. They may even feel anger towards the person who has gone.
Bargaining: Person dwells on what they could have done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts which a person may ruminate on are “If only…..” and What if……”
Depression: Sadness sets in as the person comes to understand the effect of the loss on their life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues and a decreased appetite. The person may also feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely.
Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, the person accepts the reality of their loss, it cannot be changed. They accept that they still feel sad, but they can start moving forward in their life.
There is no specific time period suggested for any of these stages, someone may experience the stages fairly quickly in a matter of weeks, whereas another person may take months or even years to move through to a place of acceptance. Whatever time it takes, is perfectly normal. The pain of loss is unique to everyone as is the emotional processing they need to go through. Regardless, it is important that the natural grieving process through to acceptance is experienced.
“You must feel your feelings until they are no longer required to be felt”
RTT cannot remove grief, but it can provide good coping skills to help through the process.
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