Loss and grief are states that are almost impossible to describe.
‘Good death’ or not,‘good innings’ or ‘blessing’, however it comes, when it comes, death is usually a blow and rarely welcome.
Have a look at the wonderful book The Iceberg by Marion Coutts to understand that loss and grief don’t begin at the point of death but can begin with the shock of diagnosis.
Coping with loss and bereavement
Where death is a shock it may be accompanied by emotional shockwaves that ripple on.
Don’t look to others to see how they are ‘doing death’. Just go with your own honest reaction and don’t judge your reaction. Like a relationship break up, some folk crumble and others just get on with life. Your response to death will probably but not definitely reflect how you’ve dealt with most big life issues. I say possibly not because sometimes the copers in life may be masking emotion and bottling quite a lot up. Death can be a bit of an undoing or unravelling. If that’s you, just allow yourself to be undone. It’s OK. You probably need it.
If you feel guilty at how normal you feel, let yourself off the hook. I can’t say often enough, there’s no such thing as normal when it comes to life and death… and no such thing as normal around bereavement, loss, grief and mourning.
The death of a child, a young mother, a parent – at any age – can floor you. Whether death by illness, accident, choice; loss is loss and whatever the circumstances and your relationship to the person who’s died, end of life can be breathtaking.
Grief and mourning
In the period after death, our society is unusually tolerant of emotional display and we refer to this as ‘mourning’. Grief is a natural response to the death of a loved (or not so loved one) and the feelings that accompany our loss may be some of the most intense of our life.
See these blogs on various aspects of loss and grief:
- coping with the loss of a child
- coping with a death in the family
- the death of a parent
- Caroline’ person’s experience of losing a partner
- 7 tips to help with grief
- grief workshops
- traumatic death
There’s no telling when grief might hit. Read this excellent article in the Guardian by Nick Coleman: The Day My Dad Floored Me about grief hitting 10 years on.
The grieving process is as unique and individual as we are; yet we may share similar experience or “stages”. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is best known for describing this process as a curve and suggests we move back and forth between stages on this curve. It’s entirely normal to feel any, all or none of the following, in no particular order:
- denial: shock, numbness, disbelief
- anger: at life, ourselves, medics, God
- bargaining: guilt, “what ifs”, “if only I’d …”
- depression: sadness, hopelessness, withdrawal
- acceptance: living with the reality of our loss.
We may experience some tension in looking forward and looking back at the same time. Looking back, there’s the loss, remembering the past, the good times, a sense of absence, yearning, pain. Looking forward there are new tasks, new arrangements, new experiences. It can be challenging to allow yourself to enjoy life. It can be a strain on relationships – what one thinks is comforting or right going forward, another thinks inappropriate.
Yet whether we feel that we navigate our way through grief, or feel that it’s grief that weaves or storm-troops its way through us…this tender time is one to be gentle and patient with ourselves – and those closest to us. It can take years to find resolve and this doesn’t mean you put your grief away: it just means finding a way to live with the reality.
The gift in grief
Read how Kristie West, Grief Specialist has a whole other take on loss and grief and sees the gift in death. Like us, at Final Fling, we see death as the counterpoint that makes life burn brighter. We mostly deal with it in that pragmatic way and try to balance the ‘life goes on’ vibe but we don’t ignore the need to take care of emotional and spiritual needs.
Some people channel their energy into creative projects to cope with facing mortality or to celebrate a life lost:
- Find out more about Bobby Sheehan’s Mortal project.
- Read about Postcards for Josh.
- Loving tributes
Help with loss, bereavement, grief and mourning
Don’t suffer in silence. It genuinely is good to talk. See more about coaching and counselling.
(If you’d like to help with coaching or counselling, get in touch or see our Marketplace for help.
See some of the great books out there.
When you’re out of the woods of dealing with grief, you might be inspired by the experience to think about planning for end of life for yourself. Making certain choices will help make things easier in the long run-for you and your loved ones. Even if you are young and perfectly healthy, life is unpredictable and anything could happen to you at any time, so it’s important to take steps to decide what sort of care and treatment you’d want if this were the case.
Use our free Life Planning Tools to start thinking your way through end of life.
We know. Easier said that done when you feel wired. So try our Quiet Mind relaxation.