Dealing with emotional fallout can be difficult, no matter your situation. Grief is one of those things that can be hard to understand — and overwhelming to deal with. As you consider grief, whether it’s your own or whether someone close to you is experiencing grief, here are 5 things you need to understand:
1. Grief Isn’t Just About Death
Chances are, when you think of grief, your mind first jumps to death. Grief is often associated with the death of someone dear. However, grief can result from other situations as well. You might not think that anything can compare with the death of someone, but the reality is that grief comes for many reasons, and it’s not easy to deal with. Some of the events that can inspire grief include:
- Job loss
- Sending children to college
- Medical loss, such as loss of a limb or severe changes to appearance due to an accident
- Terminal illness (feeling grief in advance of a death)
There are other situations and events that can result in feelings of grief. Grief is the response to a loss, and it’s important to try understand that the loss can affect us in profound ways.
2. Not Everyone Follows the “Stages of Grief”
Psychologists and others point to “stages of grief” for those coping with loss. However, it’s important to understand that not everyone follows these stages — and they might not be followed in the same order. The stages of grief include denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Don’t assume that everyone’s grieving process is the same, and realize that the stages don’t manifest in the same order. Some people might not even go through all the stages. But it doesn’t mean that they aren’t grieving.
3. It’s Possible to Return to Stages Already Experienced
Even if someone appears to be following the trajectory of the five stages of grief, don’t assume that once a stage is past, the grieving is done. The reality is that it’s possible to revisit stages already completed. Everyone grieves at their own pace and in their own way. Don’t expect someone to be “over it” anytime soon, and don’t expect that once a certain stage is passed that it is done with.
4. Acceptance Doesn’t Mean the Grieving Process is Over
Some people might assume that the grieving process is over once acceptance has been reached. This isn’t the case, however. Even after accepting the loss that creates the grief, it’s possible to feel other effects of grief. There might be times when sadness manifests strongly, or when there is a feeling of anger. In fact, for some, the grief never truly disappears. It’s possible to move forward with life, even when dealing with grief. But that doesn’t mean that the emptiness necessarily disappears completely.
5. It’s Okay to Seek Professional Help
Finally, it’s important to understand that it’s okay to seek professional help. If you are experience grief, you can benefit from speaking with someone about the issue, and getting help from a professional who understands the process. Even if you aren’t feeling grief, but you are concerned about someone who is, it can be worthwhile to seek professional help. You might benefit from a professional who can help you learn to help your grieving loved one, or just give you a place to share your difficulties and feelings.
Grief is complex and hard to predict. Knowing a little more about it, and allowing for time to heal, can help you as you go through the process yourself, or it can allow you to help a loved one struggling with grief.