All of us, at some point or another, must face losing a loved one. The stages of grief and mourning are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life, across many cultures. Bereavement affects people in different ways, and there’s certainly no right or wrong way to feel. People feel many different emotions when losing someone they care about, and they often need grieving counseling to help them through this troubled time.
While grieving is different for everyone, it helps to understand the common stages.
More often than not, the first reaction to learning about the loss of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. Denial is a biological response1 that allows emotional survival by rationalizing overwhelming emotions. This defense mechanism buffers the immediate shock of the loss. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain. A great way to let your feelings out healthily is to carry around a journal and jot down your thoughts and feelings.
With every death, anger is a natural emotion. You may find yourself angry at your spouse, yourself, home caregivers, or doctors who were unable to prolong your loved one’s life. In order to help alleviate this anger and promote healthy healing, vent your frustrations by taking up a physical fitness class.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control. “If only we had done this …” or “If only we had done that …” are common thoughts during this process. At this point, you may attempt to remain planted in the past so you don’t have to feel the emptiness inside. It is important that you allow yourself time to process the reality and remember your loved one fondly to keep your memories alive.
Depression can rear its head in many ways. You may feel that you want to isolate yourself or may feel a sense of hopelessness. This is truly the most difficult stage of grief, and one that feels as though it may last forever. During this time, it is essential to recognize when you need help and seek company often. To ensure you can focus on overcoming this hurdle, hire a housekeeper to keep on top of the daily chores.
You may never find yourself “back to normal” after the loss of a loved one. Acceptance is not about being okay all the time, but simply about allowing the reality of what happened to sink in and understand that life will be different. You will learn to accept a new way of life without your loved one but with a newfound sense of peace. As they say, time heals all wounds, and this acceptance stage can take months or years to reach. Again, you must allow yourself time to feel each of these stages so that you can reach acceptance and not swing back into depression.
Coping with loss is, ultimately, a deeply personal and singular experience. While no one can help you go through it easier, others can be there to comfort you during this process. At San Antonio Home Care Assistance, our in-home care services offer free grief support for those who are going through these stages. Our elder home care professionals are there for elderly adults in the comfort of their own home to help them keep their golden years golden.