Dealing with Grief and Loss by Stacy Shelts

Nothing in life is permanent. Seasons change, leases end, people pass away. With each ending comes a new beginning. Cliche, I know, but it’s true. Coping with the stress of any kind of loss is something everyone goes through, but that looks different in every person’s process.

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Many events can spark grief and mourning:

  • Death of a beloved person or pet
  • Ending of a relationship or friendship
  • Current events
  • Loss of a job

Grief even occurs when going through transitions, such as moving, changing jobs, starting and ending school, etc.  With these new changes comes the end of certain familiar routines, people, and places. Changes in routine can be destabilizing and stressful all on their own, and with the added component of grief, it’s more than just the blues. We’re talking about a major life events here.

The painful aspects of the human experience are exactly that - painful. The emotional pain we feel gets registered in the brain in a similar way to physical pain. It may be invisible to others, but inside, the feelings are very real. The feelings can also shift and change from one day to the next, even from one moment to the next. 

In some cultures, grief is considered an illness that the entire community must come together to heal. They perform sacred grief rituals to shed the negative emotions accumulated by the loss and restore peace to the village. 

Depending on how you’re processing your grief, it is not uncommon to experience:

  • Depressed mood
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Increased substance use
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Crying spells
  • Feeling numb, heavy or empty

Sometimes, you might think you should be feeling differently. Maybe you aren’t able to cry even though you might like to. Don’t judge yourself for how you’re processing your grief. You’re on your own journey through it. When emotions surface, take it as a sign that what you lost was important to you. Grief is a normal response to a natural human experience.

Other tips on how to deal with grief:

  1. Establish new traditions and routines.
  2. Connect with your body by taking a fitness class, jogging, etc.
  3. Ask a friend for a hug 
  4. Take a walk outside in nature
  5. Talk to a trusted friend or therapist

Grief can be distressing and you shouldn’t go through it alone. Organizations like Whole Connection offer Medicaid and sliding scale counseling services so you can get through those challenging times with the help of a professional. Grief happens to everyone.