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9 Steps to Manage Grief & Loss

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Have you experienced grief? Everyone at some point in their life experiences grief or loss of some kind, like some at a very young age loose their grandparents or parents or a sibling, but kids seem to deal with it much better than us adults.

And its not just the loss of a loved one we experience grief or loss it can also be when we get our heart broken as I myself have had my heart broken and I didn't really understand what was going on! My heart literally felt like it had broken, I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't eat anything, I felt sick and just was not myself for a few weeks but over time I did start to feel better.

So this is actually the meaning of grief and loss....

Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft or the loss of independence through disability.

Types Of Grief & Loss

> Death of a loved one (Family or friend)

> Still born/miscarriage

> Death of a pet

> Divorce or relationship breakup

> Health diagnosis (Cancer)

> A loved one’s serious illness

> Loss of a friendship

> Trauma

> Job loss

> Loss of financial stability

> Retirement

> Selling the family home

> Moving away from home

Their are many types of grief, some more intense than others but all the same it is a sense of grief or loss.

Now over the years I have had many losses, my friend Matthew (matt) my Nan & Grandad on my dads side, my Godparents Val & Ken, a client I cared for Lillian, my uncle Robert, my Nan on my mums side most recent and even more recently my step mums dad Jack.

My Nan and Grandad on my dads side I was very close to, especially my Nan. I visited them every weekend so when my Nan passed I found it extremely hard but was grateful I had my boys as they kept me busy and I think you need that to help with your grief. A year late my Grandad passed and if I'm honest he partly died from a broken heart as they had been together for most of their lives!

My other Nan my mums mum lost her long slow battle with dementia around 3 years ago and seeing my mum loose her mum was hard! I am an extremely empathetic human so I feel other pain, I get this gift from my mum. It can be very intense but I see it as a gift. This does make me fear my own mums death but I know that's not going to be for a very long time and when it does come to it I will have the tools and the know how to get through it.

Funerals are extremely sad events but are necessary in order for us to process our loss and say our goodbyes to that loved one. And then the wake is an opportunity for us to celebrate that loved ones life and share memories of them with others. Why is it we always see family members whom we haven't seen in years at a funeral? Its sad that someone dying brings the family together, other than that its a wedding but lets face it their ain't much of them going on, not more than funerals anyway!

Its hard to loose a loved one young or old, its quite surreal, you don't feel like its happening and so it takes time to sink in and for you to accept their just not coming back, all you have now is your memories of them to cherish.

When I think of the loved ones Iv lost I do still get upset to this day but the pain is not as bad as it was and I do feel certain family members are looking over me and I now find this quite comforting, some days it even makes me smile with a little tear in the eye.

Now its not just people we grieve for, its our fur babies too or any pet you have had for so many years! I actually balled my eyes out when our baby python Tyson died we didn't have him long but he came to us with an infection of some sort and passed away so suddenly! Poor little thing, we buried him in our garden.

We had many dogs and cats growing up and some were hard to loose coz their just part of the family you love them like their your brother or sister (when your a kid) or ya kids! They are their with you day in and day out for years and then all of a sudden their not. Its heartbreaking but I feel its not as heartbreaking as loosing a family member coz eventually people do go and get another cat or another dog.

Not to say their replacing the one they had lost but sometimes it helps, you can't do that with loved ones! Be a bit weird although they do say were meant to all have a double somewhere in the world and funny enough me dad and step-mum went away I think to Sri-Lanka, rung me up to see if I was at home coz they were convinced they just see me! lol! Crazy right but we won't get into that! Its weird enough people having the exact same name as you! And then theirs cloning but that would just be weird too!

Symptoms of Grief

These are the Emotional feelings your going to go through during the grieving process, in no particular order:

> Sadness

> Fear

> Anger

> Disbelief & Shock

> Guilt

Then you have Physical Symptoms you may experience:

  • Insomnia

  • Loss of appetite or emotional eating leading to weight issues

  • Nausea that don't seem to go

  • Body feels weak and aches

  • Fatigue

  • Low immune system making you prone to illness and infections

9 Steps to Managing Your Grief & Loss

Step 1 - Its OK to feel your pain so let yourself grieve naturally, don't fight it or avoid it or in many cases keep busy and tell yourself its not happening coz it will just put off the inevitable! You need to grieve its healthy for your mental health, maybe think about getting a journal to write down your feelings you may find this helps you deal with all your emotions and getting them out.

Step 2 - We all grieve in different ways and so your grieving process will be unique to you. Their is no right or wrong way to grieve so its OK to do whatever feels right to you. Don't let people tell you what you should or shouldn't be feeling and what you should or shouldn't be doing. You do you!

Step 3 - Everyone grieves at some point in their life, young and old just like iv mentioned above. You are not alone when grieving, although it can seem this way or you may want to hide yourself away but the best thing for you to do is speak to someone for support, especially someone that has been through what you are going through. They will understand and be fantastic support.

Step 4 - Some people find writing a letter to the loved one you have lost can help or letting go of a balloon dedicated to that loves one? Their are many ways to do this and can even become a yearly memorial event. Some people find this comforting and like they are keeping their loved ones memory alive. This may be for you it may not.

Step 5 - Keep yourself active! You need to look after yourself even if you go out for a walk, get out in nature or if its the gym you loved before you was hit with grief then get back down the gym, you may not feel like it now but you will feel better after.

Step 6 - Similar to journaling about your feeling in step 1 this is journaling about the positive happy memories you remember with a loved one you have lost, a pet, even the loss of a house or a divorce, you can apply this to any kind of loss. Maybe add some pictures in their too?

Step 7 - Help your loved ones to grieve which will also help you. Especially if you have kids that are grieving that need your support and listening ear, kids also like to ask questions so as difficult as it may be do not avoid answering these as it may lead to them being extremely confused and frustrated or even blaming themselves.

Step 8 - Prepare yourself for recurring grief, everyone and everything has a date, yearly event, or place that brings back memories of our grief. Recognising these grief triggers ahead of time will help you and those around you deal with it better. Maybe you would like to hold a yearly memorial event for your loved one like I mentioned in step 4 or a birthday celebration? Anything that feels right for you and your family.

Step 9 - Recognise the difference between grief and depression. Now you can experience similar symptoms with grief and depression but with grief you will start to get back into the swing of life sooner. If the lack of energy, loss of appetite, feeling low feelings do not start to subside then you may well be experiencing depression in which case you need to contact your GP for help and advice.

I would like to add on some tools that have helped me with my grief over the years......