The Importance of Healthy Grieving

In my experience as a Board-Certified Holistic, Registered Nurse and Certified NLP, Gemstone, and Diamond Therapy Practitioner over the years, I have come to observe that everyone reacts differently to death.

And more importantly, I have realized that most people I have provided support tend to employ – whether consciously or subconsciously – personal and very individualized coping mechanisms for grief.

According to recent studies, most people recover from loss on their own via the passage of time, especially if they already have healthy physical and emotional habits and strong social support.

For some people, though, it can take months or years to come to terms with a loss. Whether it’s the loss of a spouse, parent, child, friend, home, job, or career it’s important to realize that there’s no “normal” period for a person to grieve. And according to the American Psychological Association (APA), nobody should ever expect to pass through phases of grief either in a specific order. In fact, research suggests that most people do not go through orderly stages as progressive steps.

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Types of Grief

If someone in your life has had a prolonged illness, it’s not unusual to start grieving the loss of the loved one’s “former self” long before the time of death. This is often referred to as “anticipatory grief.”

Awaiting the loss, and knowing what is coming, can be equally as painful as losing a life quite suddenly. In many cases, you and your family may experience guilt for wishing it were over or seeing their loved one as already absent mentally or emotionally.

It is crucial to realize and understand that these feelings are actually quite normal. Essentially, this type of grief is a way of preparing emotionally for what’s coming. Getting ready for the death of a loved one can help you and your family contemplate and clear unresolved issues. It can also offer the opportunity in advance to better prepare and seek the support you may need.

On the other hand, a death that happens unexpectedly can be a colossal tragedy. This kind of loss tends to bring on shocked for loved ones left behind. Situations such as suicide, a car accident, or a heart attack can leave you confused and looking for answers, as well as experiencing feelings of guilt that can overwhelm any grieving person.

For those experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one, there’s a strong need for support to get through the initial devastating surprise, anger, and raw pain that usually accompanies these situations.

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Various Stages of Grief

Often depicted as a grief “wheel,” it’s important to realize that the following stages do not follow a set order. Some stages may be revisited numerous times as a person goes through the process. Remember, each person is different:

  • Shock
  • Emotional release
  • Depression, loneliness and a feeling of isolation
  • Physical symptoms of distress
  • Feelings of panic
  • A sense of guilt
  • Anger
  • Inability to get back to normal
  • The gradual recapturing of optimism and hope

 

Will It Ever End?

Grief affects every person differently. In fact, according to research, intense grieving can last anywhere from three months to one year – and many individuals often experience grief for two years or more.

Ultimately, the grieving process depends on a person’s life experiences, belief system, religion, and, of course, the type of loss suffered.

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How to Start the Healing Process

There are many strategies you can implement to deal with your grief in a healthy and proactive way. You might realize that some will work for you and some will not – and that’s okay.

Keep in mind that none of the following ideas is a perfect solution for everyone, and not everything works for all grief sufferers. The best approach is to let go of your expectations, take your time, and try to figure out what works for you:

  • Take Care of Yourself. Stress resulting from grieving can take a toll on your physical and emotional health, so continuing to meet your health needs is vital. Don’t neglect these areas. Be sure to continue to eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and take nutritional supplements, especially a B100 complex vitamin.
  • Recognize Your Grief. Keep in mind, as I mentioned above, that there is no correct way to approach grief. It’s not something you should be able to simply get over and move on with quickly. Instead, it is a process of learning how to live without your loved one. And it’s perfectly normal to experience a wide range of emotions over a long period.
  • Talk to Others and Emote. While some prefer to grieve privately, some people find talking to others extremely helpful. No one should be expected to grieve alone. And try to accept help when it’s being offered. Most people in your life want to help, but they just don’t know how to be there for you during this difficult time.
  • Join a Grief Support Group. Try to find support groups that gather in your community – such as in hospitals, churches, counseling centers, and more. By talking to others who are experiencing grief, you can find a healthy channel to sort through your feelings amongst a group of people who may be having similar experiences.
  • Engage in Physical Activity. Get outside and simply try to meditate on new life perspectives. Consider trying new running or walking routes, which can be peaceful places to get some calming, meditative exercise. Also, yoga has deep physical and spiritual foundations that can help in healing after a loss. In addition, Reiki is a spiritual Japanese practice meant to treat both your body and mind. It involves a professional practitioner placing their hands over strategic points on your body in a soothing way, as his or her palm’s transfer your life force energy and restores your body’s equilibrium.
  • Try Other Holistic Approaches. For example, based on traditional Chinese practices, acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles into strategic points of your body. It is believed that acupuncture stimulates your body’s energy flows and improves overall health. Do your homework – some acupuncture specialists offer specific grief and loss healing. Others seek solace in practices like aromatherapy, which uses essential oils and fragrances to stimulate physiological responses for mental and physical health. By combining oils that evoke strong, positive responses, this approach can be used to treat grief symptoms and improve your mood and mental health.
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Some Final Thoughts

Regardless of what type of loss and any of the circumstances surrounding the grief you are experiencing; I encourage you to be extra gentle with yourself during this period in your life. Everything has its season. Even the harshest of winters are followed by nature’s beautiful spring.

Life, death, and rebirth are natural, albeit painful human experiences that serve to help us grow and move into the next phase of our life and spiritual unfoldment.

I am personally experiencing a major phase of grief right along with you. Having already been through more than one major grief season, I’ll share from my heart to yours – it will be ok. You’ve got this. No matter how painful today is you will make it through and have a new, higher, and different life afterward. For on the other side of grief is joy.

Jennifer Marcenelle BSN, RN, HNB-BC
Jennifer Marcenelle is a board-certified and registered nurse with over 30 years of experience in the medical industry. She currently holds degrees in nursing and holistic healing, with a specialization in burnouts.

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