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Dealing with grief and loss

  • What is grief?

    Grief is the response to significant loss – usually (but not limited to) a loved one. This includes a combination of thoughts, behaviors, emotions and physiological changes that help us survive and adapt to the loss experienced.

    Is it normal?

    Grief is an extremely normal experience. It is our body’s way of dealing with the pain of a loss and a necessary process for our health to be restored. It cannot be cured or fixed.

    How long will it take?

    We cannot just “move on” from losing someone significant. The process and duration of grief is very subjective, and should not be based on some schedule.

    Is there a right way to take the loss?

    Our grief experience can be very subjective – tears would be visible for some, absent for some others. There is no right way to grieve

    What can I do for someone who has experienced / might experience someone’s loss?

    Listen to them. Provide a safe space and time for them to express whatever they are going through (if they wish to). Avoid commenting on how they should be feeling, or what they should be thinking.

    Is it ok for me to feel scared for me and my family on seeing others’ losses and suffering?

    It is completely understandable in the current scenario to feel anxious about a loved one’s loss. Even the threat of loss can involve grief response

    Coping with grief

    • Take some time off to process this sudden change.
    • Acknowledge that you have experienced a loss, and give yourself the time and space to grieve.
    • Spare some time for yourself and sit with your feelings (Body scan can be helpful as an activity).
    • Try to feel your emotions completely, even if it will seem difficult.
    • Unload your emotional baggage by talking to someone or writing instead of suppressing.
    • Keep a check on your thoughts. See if these thoughts are helping you or not.
    • Engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself.

    Unfinished Mourning and Incomplete Grief:

    Due to the pandemic, many of us are missing opportunities and space to grieve the loss of our loved ones.

    Lockdown and ongoing crises have restricted our social experiences like taking part in rituals, ceremonies or just being around relatives and friends. This may further lead to a sense of unfinished business in bereavement, as we are not able to share loss with others, express or receive support, care and love.

    Lack of acknowledgement, validation from the support system while experiencing a sudden loss because of distance can make us feel emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted.

    Incomplete grief can interfere with our day-to-day life, making it important for us to address it.

    We understand it is difficult but you are not alone.  

    Ways to process grief for your own self:

    • Sharing Stories: Grieving people benefit from telling and retelling the history, describing the characteristics of the loved one(s), the circumstances of death and loss.
    • Talking about change and loss: One can talk about what they will miss in their life and how different life will be without the deceased.
    • Writing a letter: Writing what we missed out on telling them and giving yourself the opportunity to express those unfinished conversations.
    • Preserving Memories: Not everything has been lost. Make a memory box or folder that has reminders of the person who has died. Include mementos, photos, quotes, or whatever you choose. You can also continue doing rituals that you would do with your loved one to celebrate what they liked.
    • Asking for support: Reaching out to people you consider safe and approachable and let them know what support you need

    Supporting your loved ones experiencing grief

    It is normal to feel helpless for not being around your loved ones who are experiencing loss, but there are ways you can support them.

    • Give them space to talk about loss and feelings,
    • Connect regularly to check-in with them,
    • Ask how they would like to be cared,  
    • Figure out ways to help them meet basic needs, create a space for them to reach out to you.