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November 26, 2013
by Casey Truffo, LMFT

Coping with Grief: Healing Through the Sorrow

November 26, 2013 02:55 by Casey Truffo, LMFT

Grief is the human response to loss and the suffering you feel when you have lost something ,or someone, you love.  Lost can mean death, as well as simply gone from your life.  The more you loved the person or thing that was been taken from you, the greater your grief will be.  The most common action associated with grief is the loss of a loved one, but many other things in our lives can cause us to suffer including, relationships, things we take for granted, such as a job or our home, or a dream.  It could be caused by a miscarriage, a divorce, or a separation. It could be caused by someone you love being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or the loss of a good friend. Additionally, grief can occur where you wouldn't normally think it would, such as when a pet dies, retirement occurs, your homestead sells, or you move away from home.

It is important to understand that everybody grieves differently.  Some things that come into play with how a person grieves are your life experiences, how you were raised, your faith, and your personality.  Likewise, there is no "official" time limit on grieving.  Some people start to feel better in a few weeks, while others take years to get over a life-changing occurrence.  Healing is gradual and is not something that can be controlled or turned off and on, or especially, rushed.  It is essential to be patient and allow the grieving process to occur naturally.

Many people tend to believe certain myths about grieving.  For instance, some think if you try to ignore your emotional pain, it will eventually go away.  That perception can be more harmful than helpful.  It's important to deal with your grief by facing it and working through it.  Another perception is that you should be strong and face your loss without tears or outward sorrow; this is especially true with men.  Feeling sad or afraid is normal.  Crying doesn't show weakness; rather, it shows you are a real, caring person.  There is no need to put on a brave front.  Showing your emotions can help you, and others who are grieving as well, to cope with your loss together.  The most popular myth is that grieving lasts about a year.  No doubt, you've heard people say that a surviving spouse should not sell anything or do anything out of their normal routine for "a year".  The fact is, people grieve differently, and only the person grieving knows when they are ready to move forward.

Grief can take on many forms and many processes when caused by life changes, the death of a loved one, or a breakup of what you thought was a good relationship.  Someone who is grieving will likely go through the phases of denial, anger, negotiating, pleading, depression, and finally, acceptance.  And many times, just when you think you are ready to accept what has happened, you will revert back to anger or denial or some other stage in the process. There is no right way to go through the stages of grief and healing.  It can be best described as a roller coaster ride with highs and lows, ups and downs.  As difficult as it may be, all of this is normal.

Although loss affects different people in dramatically different ways, there are common reactions to grief.  When you are first informed of a loss, it is normal to feel like you are going to faint, or having a bad dream,  that you're going crazy, or you're not able to breathe.  Another common reaction is the tendency to question one’s religious beliefs.  Right after a loss, it is normal to be in shock and to not believe what has happened.  You may feel numb or even choose to deny the truth.

Intense sadness is another symptom of grief.  You may feel empty or lonely; you might cry unexpectedly, at any given moment, causing you to feel emotionally unstable.  You may feel guilty about things you did or did not say or do for the person you lost.  You may also feel guilty for being relieved, such as if your pet dies after a long illness, or a friend passes who was suffering from a terminal disease.  You may feel blame and be resentful.  You may blame yourself for not doing enough for a dying loved one, with God, with the doctors for not saving your loved one, or even with the person who died for leaving you.  You may feel afraid or helpless.  There are also physical symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, weight loss, and insomnia.

So, what are the strategies for coping with grief?  The most important thing is that you get support from other people.  Express yourself and share your feelings.  Whether your support comes from family members, friends, neighbors, clergy, or your counselor, accept their help and support.  Connecting with other people will help you to heal.  Draw strength from your faith.  Join a support group.  Get in touch with a mental health professional, a therapist, or a grief counselor if you are feeling overwhelmed with your grief.  A professional can help you cope and work through your grief.

Be sure to take care of yourself, physically.  When you feel good physically, you will also feel good emotionally.  Try to beat additional stress by getting enough sleep every night, eating right, and exercising.  Never use drugs or alcohol to numb your pain.  And it is very important to not let anybody tell you how to feel.  Again, everyone grieves differently, so one person cannot tell another person how to cope with grief.  Be prepared for things to happen that will remind you of the person or thing you lost.  Holidays and birthdays can be especially difficult.  Hearing a certain song that was important to you and your lost loved one can trigger emotions.

The sadness of losing a loved one may never go away completely, but it should not be the center of your life forever.  If grief causes you to not resume your life as you led it before the loss, you may be clinically depressed.  If your life feels meaningless or empty, you are extremely bitter over your loss, you avoid things that remind you of your loved one, you feel hopeless or worthless, you are unable to function at home or work, or you have thoughts of suicide, seek professional help. Let the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you heal.  Maybe you need to talk about your loss with someone who is not attached to it.  Our counselors are trained professionals and can help you learn how to cope with the grief you are experiencing. Contact the professionals at the OC Relationship Center or make an appointment online. You deserve to heal and be happy again.


About the Author

OC Relationship Center OC Relationship Center, LMFT

You deserve to feel better - in your life and relationships. At OC Relationship Center we want to help you find more love, more joy, more peace...and less conflict and less stress. Our licensed and caring counselors can help if you are single, dating, married, divorced.

OC Relationship Center can be found at
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