Vanitha Chandrasegaram Dance Therapist & Counselor，Integrative Creative Moments
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” – Peter Van Houten to Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars, a book by John Green.
When we lose someone or something precious to us, we go through the process of grief. Besides death and terminal illness, which comes under the category of physical loss, we may also experience social loss (such as a divorce or the break-up of a relationship) and occupational loss (such as losing a job).
It is almost difficult to predict how long one would grieve when she has lost someone special. Even if the person has been expecting to lose someone close to her – for example, if the person dear to her has a terminal illness – grief is still a natural, and inevitable, reaction to the loss.
Hiding it in
Grief is complicated in nature, especially if the relationship with the deceased was rocky. One may experience a sense of relief, perhaps, that the deceased would no longer be around to make her life miserable, and with which comes a sense of guilt for having been relieved in the first place. There is also the possibility of survivor guilt, in which one feels guilty because she is alive while the deceased is not.
No one says that grief has to be logical, right or wrong. Instead of worrying about the intent or the cause behind one’s guilt, it is far more important to make sure that the person can cope with her grief, heal in time and move on with life. Inability to cope with grief can lead to depression and even suicide.
If the intensity of grief does not seem to wane after a reasonable amount of time (such as after a couple of months), it is advisable to seek the aid of a counsellor.
Moving Through Grief
Here are some tips to help the bereft heal and move on from a loss.
- Cry it out. Crying allows the release of intense sorrowful emotions. Asking the person to stay strong may do more damage than good, as suppressing the emotions would only prolong the grieving process. So, allow a reasonable period of time for tears.
- Let time heal. Grief is never pleasant to experience – some may describe it as “awful” – and it may be tempting to try to push past the grieving stage as soon as possible. Different people heal from grief at different rates, however, and some people may need a longer time to move on. If the bereft wants to do nothing except to stay at home and sleep for a week, let her be – this would only help her heal.
- Don’t let go. The bereft may neglect her well being, so help her look after herself. There are many ways to do this. You can provide her meals if she cannot bring herself to get her own food, for example. If she decides to withdraw from the people around her, drop by her place and check up on how she is doing. As she slowly becomes her old self again, you can help her find ways to pamper herself and feel loved and cared for again, such as encouraging her to go for a massage, treating her to a delicious meal and more.
- Write it out. Writing a journal to express one’s sadness and emotions during the process of grieving can be really helpful. One could also write as though she is writing to the departed, telling him how she feels and saying things that she never told the departed when he was alive. This may give the bereft a sense of closure. The bereft can also express herself through music, dance and other forms of art.
- Find peace in spirituality. Engaging in spiritual practices such as praying and meditating can help.
- Support is important. A support system of friends and family can bolster the healing process considerably. Even if the bereft wants to grief alone, the knowledge that she has someone to confide in can be a balm to her grief.