Grief is a complex and highly individual experience and understanding its various aspects can be helpful for those going through it, as well as for those who want to support others at this time.
It’s important to note that whilst grief can manifest in various ways, it’s a natural response to any kind of loss, (be it a death of a loved one, a divorce, separation, job loss, your health, your pets or any of the other 40 plus loss events) and there’s no right or wrong way to grieve.
Grief symptoms may present themselves physically, socially or spiritually.
To assist you to stop dragging the tin cans around with you, to help you to feel things, so you can absorb them, learn from them and stop avoiding them, we are going to deep dive into a few various symptoms of grief. Though with a slight twist.
As we live in a world of duality, where possible, we’ll also look at the advantages, as well as the disadvantage of these symptoms. It’s good to know that you may be an emotional jigsaw puzzle at the moment, though you will eventually piece yourself together.
The most common symptoms of grief:
Crying: Crying is a natural and often uncontrollable reaction we have to sadness, grief, joy and pain. Crying is a way to restore emotional equilibrium. It may also be one of your best mechanisms to self- soothe. Researchers have found that crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS helps your body rest and digest. Though it may take several minutes of shedding tears before you feel the soothing effects of crying.
Headaches: Most people who experience a headache from crying experience a tension headache. Tension headaches occur when muscles in the head tighten. They can also cause some pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulders, as these muscles may tighten as well. Tension headaches do not typically cause additional symptoms.
Difficulty Sleeping: Oftentimes, individuals who are grieving wake up from dreaming about what has happened as their brain processes the grief. The danger that may come to those who are grieving is becoming sleep deprived. Though what is interesting about this is that recent studies have shown that, sleep deprivation can have positive effects such as tireless stamina, enhanced creativity, heightened awareness and a cheerful mood.
Anxiety: Many may experience anxiety after a loss because loss changes our day-to-day lives. It forces us to confront and face life’s unpredictability. Anxiety is a feeling of dread or foreboding. Anxiety can be as simple as a general sense of uneasiness, a feeling that all is not right. So, when we can allow ourselves to grieve and truly explore the impact of the loss, we are better able to ease and manage the anxiety that may accompany it.
Guilt and Blame: The main reason that we experience guilt and blame is this: without someone or something to blame, we have to accept that the universe may be unpredictable and chaotic. If we think we could have done something differently that would have changed the outcome of this loss event, then that can provide comfort that there is a rational order to things and that we have some control. If we accept that we never could have known or changed the outcome we must accept that some things that happen in life are completely outside our control. As long as we hold on to guilt, we have hope that we could have controlled the outcome. During our time of grieving, this very inaccurate perception of control is often more comforting than considering that we have no control.
Anger: Grief is unique to each person and whilst some might find anger a part of their grieving process, others do not. When anger is involved, it’s important to look at it and find out if you’re angry about the situation, the person, place or thing you have lost or perhaps even a higher being. What is important to realise about anger is that it is a secondary emotion; underneath it is a primary emotion, often sadness or fear. It is often helpful to try to slow yourself down a bit and ask, “What is my fear? What is my sadness?” These questions and, more importantly, the answers will highlight what concerns you are still working with regarding your loss.
Isolation from Friends and Family: It is normal to feel disconnected from your friends and family during the grief and loss process. Unless they have firsthand experience, it is hard for others to understand what you are going through and how you are feeling. The distancing can also be a blessing. As most people are uncomfortable around loss, they can say all the things that are not ideal. You will receive conflicting advice which can cause you to become frozen from fear of making a wrong move at this time.
Questioning Your Spiritual Beliefs: A major loss can make you question your beliefs. All emotions associated with loss can make you question everything you once believed about life, death and suffering. Your spiritual health—your belief system—is part of your overall health. Questioning your belief systems can assist you to find what serves you and what does not.
Now we have looked at a few of the physical, social and spiritual sides of grief from any kind of loss, next time, we’ll move on to why we act and react the way we do.
Be kind to you.
Reach out anytime.
Until we meet again, please remember You Are Simply the BEST!!
Karen and Lesley
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