Our natural response to loss is grief and grief is the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away from you.
The pain of loss can feel overwhelming, and clients often come to me to find healthy ways to cope with the emotional roller coaster they are experiencing.
That’s right – when you lose someone or something you love, you may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions: shock, anger, guilt, profound sadness, panic, anxiety…The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight or causing physical symptoms such as nausea, chronic pain, palpitations and so on.
Coping with loss is one of life’s biggest challenges
The death of a loved one is often the cause of the most intense type of grief, but any loss can cause grief:
• Relationship breakup/divorce
• Losing custody of your child (even part of it!)
• Loss of health
• Loss of a cherished dream
• Loss of a friendship
• Losing a job
• Loss of financial stability
• A miscarriage
• Death of a pet
• A loved one’s serious illness
• Selling the family home
Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so never feel ashamed about how you feel, or believe that it’s only appropriate to grieve for certain things.
How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality, your life experience and current situation, your environment, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you.
No matter the cause of your grief, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you find new meaning, and eventually come to terms with your loss and start to look to the future.
Expect the grieving process to take time – Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried…Some people start to feel better in weeks or months; others, in years. Be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Deal with the pain – The pain will not go away faster if you ignore it – Trying to ignore your pain will only make it worse in the long run.
Showing your true feelings can help you heal faster – Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss.
Moving on with your life does not mean forgetting about your loss – Moving on means you’ve accepted your loss—but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you.
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief:
1. Denial: “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 ____.”
4. Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
5. Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. That said, not everyone who grieves goes through all these stages and not necessarily in that order!
Based on my personal experience and the interactions with my clients, I prefer to think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows.
The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.
The pain of grief can often cause you to want to retreat into your shell. But having the face-to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. Turn to friends and family members. Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you. Accept that many people feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who’s grieving. Grief can be a confusing, sometimes frightening emotion for many people, especially if they haven’t experienced it themselves.
However, grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact:
When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time. Try therefore to maintain your hobbies and interests.
Finally, plan for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and important milestones can reawaken painful memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional meltdown and know that it’s completely normal. You can plan by making sure that you’re not alone, for example.
Here is a summary of the key things that can help you cope with loss in a healthier way:
• Acknowledge your pain.
• Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
• Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
• Seek out support from people who care about you.
• Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
• Recognize the difference between grief and depression.
• See a therapist.
I’d personally suggest you get professional help from a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is all about moving towards a more positive future and can be of great support to people experiencing loss and grief. A recent book I have read on grief and how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can support the healing process was “Good Grief” by Dipti Tait. A good read I thought.