The loss of a loved one often represents one of the hardest times in a person's life. Dealing with grief is often difficult and painful. Here you can find tips on what can help.
What does grief feel like?
In most cases, grief is triggered by the death of a loved one. But feelings of grief can also be triggered by other drastic experiences of loss, such as the end of a significant relationship or friendship, after a miscarriage or even the loss of a job.
If a bereavement pulls the rug out from under you, the desire for guidance and more information on the different stages of grief is common. Many wonder: what should I expect? How long will it last? Are my feelings normal? But we can hardly make a general statement about mourning - there is no typical way of mourning, because such an event triggers very different emotions in each person.
While a deep sense of sadness is often at the forefront, shock, confusion, anger, helplessness, despair, anxiety and depression to the point of numbness and, in some complex cases, guilt or relief can also be felt by the bereaved. All of this is perfectly normal. Experiencing loss can also sometimes have an impact on our physical well-being. For example, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and loss of appetite are not uncommon. It is important to realise that mourning and grieving is a very individual experience for each person - there is no right or wrong here!
The effects of a loss are often felt in waves, with ups and downs. While one day the sadness fades into the background, due to an unexpected trigger, painful feelings can come back with a vengeance. During these different periods, give yourself the space needed to process your feelings. You can also use tips and strategies to support emotional healing during these times.
Tips and strategies for coping with grief
Accept your emotions
Unpleasant feelings and emotions associated with grief are especially difficult to accept. Most people automatically feel resistance to them and take refuge in distraction or repression. But realise that your feelings are also "allowed to be". They are an important part of coping with loss. If you are struggling with your emotions over a longer period of time, it can also be helpful to talk to a psychologist.
Talk about your feelings and experiences
Share your feelings and let others know how you are doing. Talk to family, friends or others you trust about how you feel and tell them what help you need. If you don't have a trusted person to turn to in your private life, support groups or group therapy are also great options.
Seek contact with other mourners
In difficult life situations, many people tend to isolate themselves. But you don't have to go through grief alone! Connect with people with similar experiences. Talk to family or friends who are struggling with the same loss, or seek out a grief support group or group sessions led by professional psychologists. Sharing your different experiences and feelings with such a group can be a great support in the healing process. Not only can you exchange ideas with the other group members but also learn how they deal with the situation. This environment also gives you the chance to consciously deal with your emotions, your experiences and your grief.
Give space to mourning with rituals
The funeral service already serves as a way of saying goodbye and coming to terms with your grief. Following this principle, other rituals can also have a comforting and healing effect. On birthdays or anniversaries, for example, you can specifically take space for reflection and remembrance.
Manage everyday life with the help of routines
Of course, grief is and remains an extremely difficult experience in which everyday tasks are sometimes a great burden. Suddenly, coping with them presents a challenge you can barely manage. You may feel lost and overwhelmed. Routines can help you regain a sense of normalcy and security in such a situation. For example, set yourself small tasks like airing the house or making the bed every day. Try to eat relatively regular meals or leave the house occasionally. Such daily habits can create a sense of control and stability.
Be compassionate and indulgent with yourself
Don't be too hard on yourself as you go through this difficult stage in your life. Accept your own personal healing process with its ups and downs. This is not a time to put pressure or expectations on yourself. Allow yourself to seek professional help as well. Psychologists can support you in dealing with your feelings - be it deep sadness or, for example, guilt in complicated bereavement.
Coming to terms with grief with professional help
When is it necessary to seek professional help? In some cases, those affected do not manage to overcome grief on their own. In particular, if complete hopelessness prevails, you can no longer cope with everyday life, feel no emotions other than sadness, experience strong feelings of worthlessness and guilt or even suicidal thoughts, you should urgently seek therapeutic support. This also applies if you have little support in your personal environment or cannot fall back on the support of a stable social network.
However, those seeking help often face a serious problem: the demand for therapy places, which are already in short supply, has continued to rise in recent years. That is why it sometimes takes many months until you can count on the continuous support of a psychotherapist. Especially in the case of grief, when acute support is sometimes needed.
In these situations, new forms of online psychological support are also an option because of their accessibility and availability, online services are well suited to provide help quickly and directly when it is really needed. Services like resilio, for example, offer online group sessions. They can serve as an acute remedy for initial crisis intervention or to tide you over until a traditional therapy slot becomes available. In online groups, you can exchange ideas with people in a similar situation under the guidance of psychologists and from the comfort of your own home, and work together to find your way back to normality.
Loss is an incomparably painful experience that you don't have to go through alone. With time, understanding for yourself and the right support, you too can find your way out of grief.