August 30th is Grief Awareness Day. If you or a loved one have recently lost someone you care about, you may be struggling to cope with their loss. Below, we explain what grief is and how long the grieving process can be, as well as some tips on how to cope with loss.
What Is Grief?
Grief is the emotional pain that a person feels after another person passes away. This person may be someone close to them, whom they cared about very much, or someone they knew or even a pet. Someone who’s grieving may feel a combination of emotions such as shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, fear, and guilt. These emotions can make it difficult to eat, sleep, and engage in other routine parts of life. It’s also common for a grieving person to lose or gain weight, become sick, or feel tired.
Many people think of grief only in terms of the death of a loved one, but it can also occur when someone loses their:
- Marriage, engagement, or other relationship
- A friend, colleague or classmate
- Job or Career
- Money or Social Status or Reputation
- House or personal property
- Dream or Personal Goal
- Sense of safety (this often occurs after someone experiences a trauma)
Grief can be divided into numerous categories, including anticipatory grief, complicated grief, and disenfranchised grief. Anticipatory grief typically occurs as an expected loss approaches, usually another person due to illness. Complicated grief occurs when a person has difficulty adjusting to the loss and experiences a variety of specific symptoms. Disenfranchised grief is a type of grief that is not acknowledged by others or the person themselves. Often because it is not viewed as legitimate or significant.
How Long Does the Grieving Process Take?
There’s no easy answer to this question, as the grieving timeline varies from one person to another. Some individuals heal within weeks or months, while others continue grieving for years. For example, the death of a parent can take anywhere between 1-5 years to process. Some suggest that it may be about 2 years before a persona is able to return to “normal” life. During this time of grieving people typically go through the five stages of grief, which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, it’s possible to heal without experiencing all (or any) of these stages and they also may be experienced in different orders.
How to Cope With Loss
Some people find the below tips can help with alleviating symptoms related to grief:
- Talking to loved ones can be validating and a good source of support.
- Writing in a journal can help alleviate some of the feelings held inside.
- Turning to your faith (if you’re religious or spiritual)
- Reading a self help book about grief and loss
- Joining a bereavement support group or another type of support group
The Help You Need to Heal From Loss
If you’re having a difficult time coping with loss, whether you’ve tried the above tips or not, consider speaking to a therapist who specializes in grief. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.