Every year in Australia, tens of thousands of people die. Unfortunately, even more people are left behind to mourn. Grief is unique to the individual, and the circumstances of the death, relationship, and personality can all influence how one moves through the grieving process. Here are some helpful tips to stay well as you come to terms with the end of a loved one's life.
Forget What You Think You Know About Grief
You may have heard about the five stages of grief as determined by Swiss-American psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. According to her model, those stages are:
When reading these stages, it's easy to assume people go through each distinct stage, in order, with the goal to pass from one to the next, as quickly as possible to reach "pain-free."
Unfortunately, the mourning process is not linear. People can feel anger and depression and acceptance concurrently. Or they may move back and forth between the different stages, getting to a place of acceptance only to find they slip back into bargaining or denial again. This is normal.
There Is No Right or Wrong Way to Grieve
Depending on the circumstances of your loved one's death, you may not feel some stages as acutely. For example, if you lost someone to a prolonged illness, you may feel a sense of relief that they are no longer suffering. In this kind of situation, you also likely began the grieving process before the actual death.
In contrast, someone whose loss is unexpected or violent may struggle more with denial and anger and bargaining. Shock is common in sudden deaths, and it can take longer to reach a place of acceptance. The nature of the relationship, one's personality, and stage of life can also affect the grieving process. However you feel, those emotions are valid.
Embrace Health and Wellness
Nothing will make your pain disappear overnight, but you can take a proactive approach to the grieving process. Now more than ever, take care of yourself physically, being sure to get enough sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition. Physical fitness will aid emotional fitness.
Remind yourself you are not alone and your mourning is not unique. Reach out to others and ask for support. Give support back when you are able. Seek professional medical help if you feel stuck or depressed. Many people also turn to their spiritual faith or another belief system to help guide them on their journey.
Death and dying is unfortunately a part of life. Be gentle with yourself and others, don't be afraid to explore new ways of coping, and know that you are learning and growing, even if it doesn't feel like it some days. Many come out of the grieving process happy, healthy, and well, grateful for this very human experience.
Contact a local medical professional for more wellness tips.