Coping with Loss and Grief
Grief can be overwhelming but may also present opportunities to reflect and change our behaviours. Experiencing any kind of loss can lead to grief and grieving. Loss of a loved one, a pet, or even a job.
Theories of grief suggest we go through different stages before feeling able to move on with our lives. This process takes time and will be different for everyone but most will experience some form of denial of what has happened, maybe anger or anxiety that it has happened, an element of depression, low mood and sadness, and even some bargaining, hoping, praying, wishing it was different, before final acceptance of the situation and being able to move on.
When my sister-in-law died suddenly I experienced a whole host of emotions. After the shock of the news, sadness swept over me. I felt tearful for days and little things made me think of her. These emotions I expected. But then I started to feel guilty that I had not made more of an effort to visit her and my brother, and to have a better relationship with her. Regrets are hard to deal with because they are about the past, things we did or didn’t do and things we now have no power to change. Luckily for me I have an amazing cousin who sent me this message,
“Life is sadly full of what if’s or I wish…Don’t beat yourself up about it…I know that you will find the strength to be who you need to be today…x”
This reminded me of two things:
- I needed to focus on the things within my control and not those outside of my control (the past)
- The present moment is all we have
I can’t go back and change the past but I can decide what to do now.
Being a wellbeing practitioner I am fortunate to have lots of great tools in my wellbeing toolbox and now was the time to put some of them to use:
- I began to journal my thoughts and emotions. writing down how I felt and the troubling thoughts whirring around my head made me feel better. It was as if it stopped them swirling around and grounded them in one place.
- I practiced mindfulness more focusing on my breathing and senses helping to bring me into the present moment. I spent time in nature visiting my favourite places and really experiencing them, looking at the beautiful colours, listening to the wind moving the trees, feeling the breeze on my skin and smelling the earthy ground.
- I looked for the positives each day, writing down the things I am grateful for in my life, the little things I often take for granted, talking with my children, the sound of birds singing, the taste of chocolate.
I also made a long term commitment in honour of my sister-in-law to continue to take care of my health and wellbeing as my legacy to her.