Grieving is a normal process of reacting to the loss of a loved one and affects you mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. While there is no real order to the grieving process, those affected may experience a range of feelings, including denial, disbelief, anger, confusion, shock, sadness, despair, guilt and anxiety.
It can also cause physical problems such as sleeping disorders, changes in appetite, illness, or worsening of an underlying health condition.
Grief is a process of letting go, learning to accept and live with loss; the amount of time it takes each person is very personal.
“Usually people experience a strong acute grief reaction when someone dies, and at the same time they begin the gradual process of adapting to the loss,” explains psychiatrist M. Katherine Shear, MD at Columbia University. “To adapt to a loss, a person needs to accept its finality and understand what it means to them. They also have to find a way to re-envision their life with possibilities for happiness and for honoring their enduring connection to the person who died.”
You may not be prepared for the intensity and duration of emotions or how quickly your moods can change, but these feelings are healthy and appropriate. It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. The best thing you can do is allow yourself to grieve and take care of yourself. Here are some tips for healing:
Seek out caring people. Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.
Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.
Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician, and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief.
Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.
Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any big changes such as moving, remarrying, changing jobs, or having another child. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss.
Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.
Seek outside help when necessary. If your grief feels too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.
Alzheimers Coachella Valley now offers a bereavement support group every first and third Monday of the month, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. It is open to those who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one. Currently live-streaming, the group will convene at ACV’s office once county restrictions allow in-person meetings.
Alzheimers Coachella Valley is located in the Berger Foundation Center, 42600 Cook Street in Palm Desert. For more information or to register, call (760) 776.3100 or [email protected].