Are you going through a period of grief, maybe lost someone close to you?
Are you struggling with managing your emotions and coping day to day?
Sandra was devastated hearing the news that her brother unexpectedly passed away, leaving children behind. She initially tried to cope with the overwhelming grief by staying busy: cleaning the house multiple times, working extra hours, browsing through her phone to distract her, and avoided talking to people close to her brother. At first, she believed she was coping okay, and in fairness for the first 2 to 3 weeks, a lot of people behave this way until ‘reality’ sets in.
After a couple of weeks, Sandra suddenly would burst into tears at home or at work, seemingly out of her control. She was wondering why she was so emotional all of a sudden and really wanted the crying to stop.
If you’re grieving over someone lost, it will feel overwhelming and consuming! It can really take over your life at times. But don’t be alarmed – the way you grieve is unique to you and different to how others grieve. And that’s ok. Don’t feel like you need to grieve in a certain way.
Embrace your grief!
The intensity you feel, how long it lasts, and your core emotions involved will vary. Acceptance is a process, It’s not only learning to accept what has happened, but also accepting how grief is affecting you day to day, focusing on how you feel in that particular moment. Don’t fight or try to avoid your emotions.
You may have thought to yourself, “Is my experience of grief normal?”, or “I can’t seem to stop crying, or function at work. What do I do?”
Grief is an Emotional Rollercoaster
Sadness drives our feelings of grief, however feelings of anger (i.e. “This is unfair”) and fear or panic are also normal. Believe it or not, we actually NEED these other emotions to process change in our life.
Give yourself permission to feel sad, ride the emotional waves, and try your best to keep to your normal daily routine (e.g. eating, sleeping, and regular social contact). The natural grief process needs to be at your own pace and in your own time. Embrace the pain – it’s a reflection of how much that person, pet, or support person you lost, meant to you.
Coping at Work or in Public
If your feelings overcome you at an inappropriate time (e.g. when at work, during a meeting, when shopping, etc.), stop for a moment, and acknowledge that these feelings are present. Internally say to yourself, “I will think about that thought or feeling when I get home. I need to focus on something else right now.”
Expert Advice on Moving through Grief
- Practice some grounding techniques to bring you to the present moment – e.g. identify 5 things you can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel, to bring yourself back to the present moment and shift your thoughts.
- Ensure you do acknowledge those feelings of sadness later that day, teaching yourself when is a good time to listen and process those thoughts. Take a moment to write down your feelings and sit with the grief. Have a cry, it’s okay to do this.
- Ensure you talk about your grief with loved ones and have a cry together if you’ve lost someone close to you. It’s important for them to see you’re sad too, so they know it’s okay to cry themselves.
If you find yourself struggling with grief or loss or are feeling excessive guilt and are ‘beating yourself up’ or blaming yourself for someone’s loss, reaching out for additional support may be helpful.
Written by Dr Bianca Heng – Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au