How to Deal with Grief

woman grieving

There really is no specific way to learn how to deal with grief. The pain and emotional trauma suffered by the loss of a loved one is more devastating for some than others. It all depends on the type of death you're facing, as well as the essence of your entire being.

The Grief Process

Everyone, at one time or another, will have to deal with the death of a loved one whether it be a parent, grandparent, child, sibling or other close family member or friend. You really do not know how you will react until it happens, so it's hard to say ahead of time how to deal with or understand it.

However, research has shown that there is a five-step process everyone goes through when grieving the loss of a loved one. World-renown psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004) designed a model for grieving and bereavement. She describes the path that individuals go through to accept and understand the reality of death.

Kübler-Ross' Five Stages of Grief

Some professionals and psychiatrists argue that a five-step grieving process may not be enough because there are more emotions an individual feels when faced with this type of tragedy. Nonetheless, there are five common steps a person can go through. It should be noted that not everyone takes these steps in order nor will he or she go through all of them. However, when understanding how to deal with grief, Kübler-Ross says everyone will go through at two of the stages. The five-step process includes:

  • Denial: This is actually denying the fact that the individual has died; also includes renouncing your own feelings about the person's death.
  • Anger: Besides claiming that the death shouldn't have happened, an individual in this stage tries to find blame for the event as well as show anger toward anything or anyone related to the deceased.
  • Bargaining: Normally felt when an individual is on the brink of death rather than already dead, this is a desperate attempt to try and save that person's life. The survivor tries to make deals with God or the doctor involved.
  • Depression': This is a sadness so deep that it is hard to function like you normally did. However, studies have shown that the more support you have, the less at risk you are for falling into a deep depression.
  • Acceptance: While this may take some time, accepting a loved one's death will happen. It doesn't mean that the deceased person will be forgotten, it's just that the bereaved person will be able to have some type of normalcy again without having him or her around.

Tangible Ways of How to Deal with Grief

Besides the emotional process of dealing with grief, there are some positive ways to express your bereavement:

  • Volunteer: Spend time working with others who need help. If you have lost a grandparent to a long illness, you can volunteer at a hospice or nursing home, reading to or just visiting patients. If you lost a baby at birth, you can volunteer your services (not necessarily your being) by creating care packages for newly bereaved parents.
  • Attend a support group: Either online or in person, a support group allows you to share yourself with others who have gone through a similar loss.
  • Create a Scrapbook: Scrapbooking your thoughts and images of the individual who died is a great way to dealing with your grief. It is a book in which you can return to often and relive the many memories you have.
  • Writing: By keeping a journal or writing poetry, you are putting your thoughts and feelings on paper. This is a great way to deal with your grief if you don't want to attend support group meetings.
  • Hold a memorial service: If a funeral is too formal and traditional, consider organizing a memorial service for the loved one who has died. Here, people can informally discuss the man or woman (or child) who died without worrying about time constraints, weather or anything else.

How You Shouldn't Deal with Grief

While there are many positive ways of dealing with your feelings over a loved one's death, there are some ways in which you shouldn't indulge. These will normally lead to more destructive behavior or depression:

  • Excessive alcohol drinking
  • Illegal drug use
  • Overeating or not eating enough
  • Spending an exorbitant amount of money on needless items
  • Taking your anger out physically on a person or object
  • Excessive gambling
  • Withdrawing from normal everyday life for a long period of time
  • Abandoning your friends and family
  • Quitting school or your job

If you ever feel like your feelings of your loved one's death are too overwhelming and you see a pattern forming of destructive behavior, contact your physician as soon as possible for help. If your doctor is unavailable, talk to a family member or close friend about your feelings. They can help!

Final Note

Your personality can also dictate how you mourn. Stronger-willed individuals may not show as much grief as a person who, for one reason or another, is already emotionally distraught. Whoever the person, your best bet to dealing with grief is to just let it be. Grief can rear its ugly head at any point of time, whether or not you are strong or prepared for it. Time is really the only thing you need to get through it.

How to Deal with Grief