Life is a winding road that brings many challenges and obstacles.
For example, you have or will likely lose friends or deal with the end of relationships. You or a loved one may contract a serious illness. Or a dream you have may crumble or be unattainable.
You also have been touched or will be touched by the death of pets, family members, friends or other important people in your life. You could be affected by a miscarriage. You may experience career changes as well, whether you change jobs, lose your job or retire at any point in your life.
Any loss or change can result in the need to grieve. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss. James and Friedman (2009) define grief as “conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” Some feelings that arise may include sadness, guilt, anger and shock and that’s perfectly normal.
Grief can be difficult to manage. It can impact thinking and everyday activities, such as eating and sleeping. How you grieve is normal – there is no right way to grieve.
- William Worden (2018), psychologist and author, developed a task-based approach for supporting bereaved individuals.
- Task 1: Accept the reality of the loss
- Task 2: Process the pain of grief
- Task 3: Adjust to a world without the deceased
- Task 4: Help the survivors find an appropriate place for the deceased in their emotional life
Worden (2018) believes the grief process is fluid, and these tasks can be worked on individually or simultaneously and they can be revisited as often as needed.
Smith, Lawrence and Segal (2023) offer some great suggestions for those seeking support for grief and loss.
- Get the support that you need. You may get this support from spending time with friends and family or by participating in local group activities. Therapy or a support group may also be good options for you to learn positive coping strategies around how to cope with grief.
- Take care of yourself. Your physical health is just as important as your mental health. You should try to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, exercise and avoid using drugs or alcohol to cope with grief.
- Express yourself. Share your feelings with people you trust. You can also journal, create art and participate in activities that you enjoy.
- Don’t let other people sway your grieving process. Remember that how you grieve may be different from how others grieve. It is OK to grieve how you are grieving.
- Plan for grief triggers before they arise. For example, if you lost a loved one or had a relationship end, certain dates that were important to you can be triggers. It can be helpful to make plans for that day. Make a point to spend time with friends and loved ones or plan to participate in a preferred activity.
There is no timeline for when you should feel better. The length of the grief process varies per individual because all relationships are unique. The main thing is … be kind to yourself.
If you or someone you know is struggling with grief issues, UofL Health – Peace Hospital is here to help.
- Grief Recovery Method® Support Group: This is a free eight-week educational program for anyone experiencing grief. The program is held at Peace Hospital – Adult Outpatient Center. For more information and to sign up, call 502-432-2011 or email Lisa Prewitt at Prewitt@UofLHealth.org.
- Free Level-of-Care Assessments: Peace Hospital offers no-charge level-of-care assessments and assistance with treatment options. For more information, call 502-451-3333.