Understanding Grief: How To Help Yourself And Others

The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

As humans, we often feel our emotions deeply and sincerely. Although, many of us have difficulty naming our emotions as they occur. In many cases, individuals do not recognize their own feelings because of repression or distraction. For example, someone can experience feelings of intense anger but ignore it so well that they do not acknowledge it until it is unbearable.

One of the most overlooked emotions is grief. When someone is grieving, it can be easy for them to ignore it or even hide it from others. We should learn more about grief so that we may help ourselves and others going through the grieving process.

What Is Grief?

According to Speaking Grief, “Grief is a set of experiences that involve the perceived loss that someone has around a person, a situation, an event, a happening, that change the way that they physically, emotionally, spiritually, react and respond to the world around them”.

Grief often comes in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While many assume that the five stages of grief appear in order, they usually do not happen in the same order for everyone.

Different people process strong emotions in different ways. Some may start with anger and then move to denial. Others may skip stages entirely.

What Causes Grief?

Many people often associate grieving with the death of a loved one, but it can be because of other things as well. Someone that gets married can experience the loss of a former life. They may go through a grieving process of what they once knew.

When people experience this loss, they may see side effects in their daily life and mental health. Companies, such as BetterHelp, offer many resources for those who see an interruption in their daily life because of mental health concerns, including grief.

What Are The Symptoms Of Grief?

If you or someone you know is grieving, they may experience many upsetting symptoms. Grieving symptoms can affect someone both mentally and physically. By learning more about the symptoms, we can better recognize and help someone who is hurting.

Physical Symptoms

Many common physical symptoms include headaches, nausea, stomach pain, food aversion, fatigue, racing heart rate, insomnia, shortness of breath, chest pain, and others.

Thoughts of their loss or memories may cause physical symptoms in someone. For instance, someone may have a nightmare about their pet’s death or last days. This can cause unrestful sleep that leads to fatigue and insomnia.

Others may be so preoccupied with coping and managing their mental symptoms that they forget to eat and have no desire to nourish their bodies. People may also experience a tight chest and shortness of breath because of stress-related symptoms.

Mental Symptoms

Someone who is grieving may experience many other emotions and mental symptoms along with feelings of loss. As stated previously, anger, denial, and depression are all common stages of grief. Many may feel intense irritability and detachment after a large loss in their life.

Others may also feel depression and the inability to show happiness. While it is common to feel these symptoms if they persist for a prolonged time or the individual does not see a decline in severity, they should seek help from a doctor.

Tips For Coping With Grief

Give Yourself Time

When you experience a hurtful loss, you must give yourself time to process your emotions. There will be many feelings of confusion and sadness during this time. Give yourself the time and space to feel your emotions. This will allow you to understand yourself better and help you move on faster.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Another key to coping with grief is acknowledging your feelings. One of the worst things you can do is ignore how you are feeling. By ignoring your thoughts and feelings, you are only prolonging the healing process. When you acknowledge that you are sad or angry, you can seek ways to alleviate and heal these feelings.

Find Support From A Trustworthy Source

When you feel that you cannot manage your feelings alone or you feel that you do not understand your thoughts, it could be beneficial to seek help from a trustworthy source. You can turn to a family member or friend. A more helpful option may be a therapist or licensed counselor.

How To Help Others Who Are Grieving

Be A Good Listener

When you aren’t the one grieving, it can be hard to offer your assistance to others. You may be afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing something that may upset them. The best thing you can do is show that you care and offer a listening ear. Someone who is grieving may need a sounding board for their confusing emotions and symptoms.

Encourage Them To Seek Help

Oftentimes, people need an extra hand in the healing process. Encourage someone grieving to seek therapy or a support group; especially, if you notice signs of depression or suicide. By encouraging them to seek professional guidance, you can help them get the healing they deserve.

Help In The Ways You Can

When your friend or family member does not want to chat about their feelings, you can offer your help in other ways! Consider running errands for them by picking up their groceries or prescriptions. You can also take them out for a meal. Show them that you care about them by offering to help in whatever way they desire.