Coping With Grief

Grief & Loss

Do find yourself having difficulty concentrating, or finishing tasks? Are you experiencing profound sadness or mood swings?  Does it seem as if you are more forgetful or absent-minded?  Do you have trouble making decisions when you have always been very decisive?  If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing grief.

What is Grief

Grief is a natural process if reaction and adjustment to change and accompanies the experience of loss in our life. Two hallmarks of grief include:

  • Emotional shifts that are unpredictable
  • Individual – each person will react to grief in their own way and own time

Signs of Grief

Numbness – many people who experience an intense loss will report feeling numb. This numbness can feel as if you are walking around in a cloud, things feel blurry and unclear or muted which is the body’s way of trying to protect you. This feeling of numbness comes from being in shock, which is a normal defense mechanism to help you not become too overwhelmed.

Anxiety, fear or worry – comes from feeling helpless and unable to control, change or help the situation.

Sorrow– overwhelming sadness for the loss of the physical presence of a loved one. This will turn into acceptance when one moves through the grieving process, however, people can also feel worried or guilty when this intensity of the sadness begins to fade.

Anger – a feeling that most people feel due to the unfairness of the loss.

Regret – over circumstances of the loss, opportunities missed or not taken, conversations that we unspoken, experiences lost. Regret can also come in the form of being relief after a long illness.

Longing – an involuntary yearning for the opportunity to regain what we have lost.

Ambiguous Loss & Anticipatory Grief

Have you ever felt like giving up, like the job seems too big to overcome and you have run out of energy and strength to take another step?  Do you feel like you are going crazy and having unpredictable mood swings? Do you feel guilty about what you can or can’t do or what you are thinking and feeling? If so, you could be experiencing a kind of grief that we usually don’t think of but often go through. These feelings along with loving and or caring for someone living with dementia can be a sign of either ambiguous loss or anticipatory grief.

Anticipatory grief is the emotional pain and sadness that is felt far before the actual event of loss occurs.

Ambiguous loss comes from interacting with someone who is not fully present either socially or emotionally.

Complicated Grief

Finally, complicated grief are feelings of loss that are debilitating and don’t improve even after time passes. If this is what you are experiencing, finding support will be the key to helping you move through this and on to a sense of well-being.

Signs & Stages of Grief

  • Tearfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Guilt
  • Fear
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional Numbness
  • Poor Concentration
  • Forgetfulness

The stages of grief are experienced differently by each person and there is no real set amount of time that it takes to move through these stages. People also can find themselves going back and forth between the stages. Grief is a normal process and will be unique to each person in how it is experienced and the length of time it takes.

Denial

  • Hoping that the person is not ill
  • Expecting the person will get better
  • Convincing yourself that the person hasn’t changed
  • Attempting to normalize challenging situations

Anger

  • Frustration with the person
  • Resenting the demands of caregiving
  • Resenting family members who can’t or won’t help
  • Feeling abandoned

Bargaining

  • Wondering if you did something to cause the illness
  • Feeling bad if you enjoy life, or feeling like a failure
  • Wishing the person would go away
  • Having unrealistic expectations of yourself…”I should have ….”

Sorrow/Depression

  • Feeling overwhelmed by loss
  • Crying frequently
  • Withdrawing from social events or needing more connection with others
  • Withholding your emotions or displaying them more openly

Acceptance

  • Learning to live in the moment & let go of the past
  • Finding personal meaning in caring for someone and realizing the person is doing the best they can
  • Embracing your grief instead of living in resistance

Finding support is always of upmost importance when dealing with change especially due to loss, whether it is sudden or from a long illness. Orchard at Brookhaven will provide support groups that include support for grief and loss in Atlanta. Our staff are committed to being a resource for the community of Brookhaven and surrounding communities. Please call if you are in need of support or looking for resources.

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