Updated: Sep 4
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If you have ever lost someone important in your life, there are only so many words that can express the heartache, anger, and pain that accompany it. The grieving process can be long and excruciating, and the emotional reactions that come along with it are often uncomfortable and unique to one’s experience. On the other hand, we all have known someone who has lost a loved one, and many of us aren’t sure how to comfort that person properly. We struggle with awkward condolences and promises of prayers, but aren’t quite sure if we are being a good friend. Regardless of whether or not you or a close friend has lost someone, navigating grief can be overwhelming. Here’s what to know.
1. Grief is an Individual Experience. Nobody can properly tell you how to feel after you’ve lost a loved one. There is no right or wrong way to go through a traumatic experience like this, and any type of reaction is unique and part of the healing process. Just remember that the grieving process is as unique as the relationship you had with that person and nobody can tell you that a certain feeling is strange or outside of the norm.
2. The 5 Stages of Grief Are a Broad Generalization. There are typically five stages of grief, which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, there is no guarantee one will go through each stage in a certain duration, and one might skip a stage all- together. Also, one’s grief can depend on the way in which one died. For example, if a 60-year-old woman lost her 95-year-old mother, she might not feel the anger stage, as she knows that her mother was older and had already lived a good life. But another person in the same exact situation could feel entirely differently. There is no proper way to move through the stages of grief. They are only a generalized explanation that gives a broad framework to those struggling through this process.
3. A Community is Key. In order to go through the grieving process and find healing, one should find a community of others who can help along the way. There are many different grieving groups, along with church programs, that can help you feel some peace during this time. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, either. Friends and family are there to hold your hand along the way, and there’s no shame in asking for a little support.
4. Grief is Emotional, Not Intellectual. If you’ve just lost someone who was struggling with a terminal illness, another misguided friend might tell you that there’s no reason to be sad as that person is out of their pain. That might be true intellectually, but it doesn’t always feel true, emotionally. There is no logical or mathematical way to feel grief, as grief in itself is a feeling! Don’t allow misguided friends or family members to make you feel guilty for your feelings. Your feelings are yours, and they don’t have to be logically driven.
5. Time Heals Some Wounds, But Not All. The overwhelming pain and shock will dissipate over time, but the grieving process is differently for everyone. Losing a child, for example, can change a mother and father for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t mean that one cannot find healing and peace through the process, nor does it imply that one will never feel joy again. But do not be dismayed if you still feel heartache after a few years. Grief is different for everyone, and each circumstance warrants a different emotional response.
There is Healing
Regardless of how you move your way through grief, there is no need to try to do it alone. There is counseling and group therapy available that can be enormously beneficial for yourself and your family. Though this time will be difficult, and the course of your life may be changing, there is certainly a way to find healing and peace at the end of the road.
Have you recently lost someone that you cared about? Have you struggled through the grieving process, trying to make sense of it all? If so, please contact Straight Talk Clinic at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkclinic.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.