Grief is often experienced after a loss in someone’s life, whether it is the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a marriage, or loss of a lifestyle. It is often associated with emotions such as sadness, anger, regret, guilt, numbness, or even relief. According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages to grief which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Throughout the grieving process, a person does not necessarily complete each stage in order and can often go back and forth between stages. If grief is not processed, it can often lead to Depression, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Counseling allows a person to explore their grief including their thoughts or behaviors to allow them to return to an ideal level of functioning.
Some exercises that are often helpful for those who have lost a loved one include writing a letter to the lost loved one. This letter can contain memories, pictures, special moments, a poem, song lyrics, whatever you would like to express. Sometimes, the person who is grieving may also decide to choose a spot that reminds them about that person (e.g. a place in the park, a garden, or backyard) where they can bury the letter. Others may choose to put the note in a balloon, a message in a bottle, or frame it in a plaque. Grief and loss is also especially hard around the holidays, and birth dates, death dates often become challenging times.
During these times, grieving families can choose to remember their loved one by engaging in their favorite activity, or they may choose to distract themselves in another way, such as going on vacation, seeing a show, and spending time with family and friends who can support them. Whatever it is you choose to do, ensure that the behavior is a positive one as it is easy to slip into negative behaviors at this time. Imagine, “what would my loved one want me to be doing at this time?”, “how would they like to be remembered?” If you, or your loved one is struggling with grief and loss, please know there are professionals who can help.