Coping with loss
Everyone deals with grief, but we all deal with it in very different ways. How we grieve is affected by our culture, our religion, the loss we've suffered, and who we are as individuals. There may be no surefire way to deal with the loss of a loved one, but here are a number of tips that can help make it a little easier.
Don't Rely on the Five Stages
You've likely heard of the five stages of grief at some point in your life. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, and are meant to represent the five emotional stages we pass through after a loss. However, this has been enormously overhyped in the media, and shouldn't be taken literally. The five stages is just a framework to help us understand grief, so don't expect to move from one to the next in a straightforward fashion.
This may sound like another cliche, but expressing your emotions is a vital step in coming to terms with loss. Speaking your thoughts out loud can help you accept what has happened and work through the emotions. Talking to someone will also subconsciously reassure you that you have support and are safe. The feeling of danger and helplessness that often accompanies loss is one of the biggest roots of our grief, so addressing this head on can be surprisingly effective.
When something bad happens, it can be easy to fall out of our routines. While a certain amount of staying at home is obviously acceptable, it is absolutely crucial to make sure that you stay active. Physical exercise helps to improve our mood due to the release of dopamine, one of the four chemicals that controls our happiness.
Another of the four happy chemicals is serotonin. This is responsible for our overall mood, and largely linked to what we eat. It can be difficult to eat properly when we're feeling down, but failing to do so will only make things worse.
While some people find it impossible to fall asleep after a loss, others have difficulty getting out of bed. Either way, allowing your sleep pattern to change dramatically after a loss will make it much more difficult to deal with it. Our quality of sleep dictates how well we function while we're awake, so any sudden or drastic changes will affect your body, energy levels and frame of mind. It may be difficult, but sticking to your regular sleep pattern is one of the most important steps in grieving. Failing to do so makes it all the more difficult to stay active, eat properly, or meet with friends, so try your hardest to make this step work.
There has been a worrying increase in the number of people who use the term "self-medicate". While it is usually said as a passing joke, it is important not to forget that most forms of alcohol and drugs will exacerbate your grief, not alleviate it. While this may be meant as a joke, people try it, and it makes things much harder, so don't fall into this trap.
Grief is a long and complicated process that is completely unique every time. There is no one size fits all approach, but hopefully the tips laid out above will help you better understand the process and identify the way the works best for you.