Mental Health: Coping with Bereavement

Although death is a natural part of life, the loss of a loved one may cause the greatest grief one will endure in their life. Loss of a loved one can trigger a turning point one’s mental health. Many never quite recover from such loss, and their lives and those of their loved ones become irreparably affected. Sadly many can end up being stuck in depression. Emotional responses to loss are varied in variety and intensity. People may experience feelings of sadness, anger and even guilt. Understanding how to cope with these overwhelming feelings is essential in managing them and healing. This article will offer some guidance on how bereavement may affect your mental health, and how you can cope with it. Keep reading to find out more.

The Period of Mourning

As a term, mourning encapsulates all manifestations of sorrow that you may exhibit after a loved one dies. Mourning can be very intimate and personal or can be expressed outwardly through grieving. This process may last a few months but could also extend over years.

When you grieve, you may experience crying spells. You may also experience a period of depression. Anticipating and acknowledging these symptoms is key to managing them. Grief may also manifest itself physically through sleeping problems, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and lethargy. You may also experience panic attacks and suicidal tendencies.

Different Emotions Experienced After Loss

Usually, there’s a pattern of feelings manifested, depending on the nature of the relationship between the bereaved and the loved one. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Death of a Partner or Spouse

In such intimate relationships, the bereaved and lost loved one have a virtually inseparable link. This link spans all aspects of their lives from financial to emotional. Losing a spouse or a long term intimate partner may elicit a feeling of almost losing an irrecoverable part of yourself. You may feel empty. This feeling may be followed by that of disbelief and shock. If your loved one was the family’s breadwinner, panic attacks may be common as you contemplate your family’s financial situation. These feelings are varied. Some people may even feel anger towards their lost loved one for leaving them.

Loss of an Elderly Parent

The primary feeling experience here is that of loss and vulnerability. Parents whether old or young are an important source of strength and identity. Moreover, a lot of our memories are linked to them. These feelings may occur even before the loved one dies, especially if the loss was anticipated. Where such a loss was anticipated, the grief may be less pronounced.

Death of a Child

The death of a child is extremely painful. We view ourselves as our children’s guardian’s so one may even blame themselves for this loss. Moreover, anger for a life not lived fully may be experienced.

Periods of grief are normal, even longer ones. However, in some circumstances, grief may be so extreme that it spirals into illness i.e. depression. It may lead people to destructive habits like excessive drinking and alcoholism. Learning how to cope with grief is essential to prevent these tendencies.

How to Cope with Grief

One of the most effective ways of coping with grief is through grief counseling. Seeing a mental health professional may be an important step to ensuring that you cope with your loss. Other forms of counseling may include support groups. Sharing grief with people who have similar emotions may provide you with the support you need so as not feel isolated as you mourn. Many people also find peace in religion. Seeking religious support may be a great help. As you grieve, it is important to take care of yourself. Even if you don’t have the appetite, force yourself to eat, for nutrition. Beware of certain habits that may spiral because of grief i.e. drinking and smoking. Anticipating the varied emotions listed above is also key to ensuring that you’re ready to deal with them. When you expect the pain, it will not blindside you. That being said, it is also important to allow yourself to feel. Don’t escape the pain, instead, confront it. That pain is an essential part of healing and regaining mental health.

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