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How to care for your Mental Health while dealing with loss.

The loss of a loved one is one of the most stressful events that can occur in life and this can cause a major emotional crisis, as well as lead to a mix of emotions, such as anger, sadness, confusion, stress and frustration. Some more emotions that a person may experience include denial, disbelief, shock, despair and guilt. Though one may not be prepared for the intensity and duration of these emotions or how swiftly moods may change, it is important to know that these emotions are normal and common reactions to loss. Coping with all of these emotions, getting everything in order, and returning back to a “normal” life can take a huge toll on one’s mental health. It would seem that the pain that comes with this loss would never end. However, it is important to know that things will slowly and eventually get better. During this period, it is likely that one might notice a change in their thoughts, feelings, behaviour as well as the body. 

There are 5 stages of grief and loss and people who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them. These 5 stages are: 

  1. Denial and isolation: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  2. Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?” 3. Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  3. Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  4. Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

The journey through dealing with the loss of a loved one isn’t an easy one, but if one learns to take care of themselves during this period of time, they will eventually be better off in the end, as with time all will heal. Due to these reasons, it is imperative that the person takes care of their mental and physical health, and keep it in tact.

Listed below are some ways of looking after one’s overall well-being. They are:

Find someone to talk to:

Though friends and family members are always around to talk to and form a huge part of our social support system, it may also be extremely beneficial to seek professional help from a grief counsellor. They can help in assessing and validating our feelings and find coping strategies to deal with the wide range of emotions that we experience. Additionally, they can also be someone who we can just count on. Hence, though not necessary it would be better to seek support from a mental health professional. 

Do what brings you Joy:

While going through the grieving process, it can be hard to find the simple joy’s in life. At least once a day, try to do something small that would make you happy. It’s really important to give our minds a break from the grief and do something that makes us happy. 

Find time to Exercise:

Between the activities of the grieving process, it is likely that one may feel physically and mentally drained. Exercising can make a person feel happier and reduce overall feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Working out is the best way to boost and uplift your mood and energy. 

Let it all out:

Bottling up of emotions and keeping everything inside can soon become too much and cause harm. It is thus important for a person to know that it is okay to let it all out and cry when they’re feeling sad. Crying helps you feel calm and enhances your mood afterwards. Allow yourself some time to grieve and express your emotions fully, so that others know you might need support. 

Take a Personal Day:

After the loss of a loved one, life doesn’t simply get back to normal immediately. If a person is going back to work, a full day of it may seem too much even after months of the loss. It is thus important to occasionally take the day off and mentally recoup, so that one doesn’t become overwhelmed or experience burnout. 

Join a support group:

Grief can feel very lonely, even when loved ones are around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counselling centers. 

A few other steps to help cope with the grieving include:

  • Acknowledging your pain.
  • Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
  • Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
  • Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
  • Recognize the difference between grief and depression.
  • Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Manage stress – lighten your load by asking friends, family members or work colleagues to help you with some chores or commitments. Relaxation and gentle exercise can also prove to be helpful.

Just as some approaches can help, others may not. Turning to drugs or alcohol to escape your thoughts is not productive behaviour, and can actually make you feel worse over time.

In conclusion, while suffering loss is an inevitable part of life, there are many ways to help cope with the pain, and eventually pick up the pieces and move on with life. It is a highly individual experience and there is no designated right or wrong way to grieve. The way a person grieves depends on a number of factors including personality and coping style, life experience and how significant the loss was. The healing from this process happens slowly and gradually and nothing can be forced. In the end, whatever the grief experience, it’s important to be patient and allow the process to naturally unfold.