The Importance of Addressing Grief

Grief and loss are not easy. In fact, The Telegraph reports grief as the 10th worst feeling in the world. For me, it's number one. It is the worst emotion I've ever experienced. There are many other emotions that come along when someone close passes away. The circumstances of death can be untimely and unexpected.

I am a senior psychology student. Somehow my coursework could never prepare me for the nightmare of losing my friends. Lectures about the stages of grief and fieldwork counseling others using substances to cope with their loss could have never got me ready for my own overwhelming cloud of grief. 

1. Grief Brain

Grief brain is a concept never discussed, but it is definitely real. When someone close to you passes away, we have to adjust to a new reality without them. Our brain is trying to understand why we will never see them again. Death does not come with closure or answers. Who remembers that regions of our brain aid in emotion like the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system? As we grieve, hormones change in our system and result in symptoms such as sleep disturbances and anxiety. We take a hit to the brain literally. It is important to practice self-care such as getting support or taking a time out to adjust.

 

2. Accept your feelings

Emotions come flooding in when the news reaches you. It is important to acknowledge the way we feel about the loss of a loved one. Many times, people want to act normal and be able to handle their emotions in public. Sadness, anger and frustration are normal emotions to feel. Taking time to reflect on emotions surrounding death may help heal loss.

 

3. Talk it Out!

Believe it or not, being able to connect with your friends make things better. Many times, remembering the times mutually shared with other loved ones is a way to cope with grief. Our feelings deserve to feel heard and known. Going through grief alone is not an option. Even with my own friends, it took a series of weeks before anyone could mention anything after the funeral.

 

I encourage everyone going through their own grief cycle to attempt to follow my advice. I KNOW it is not easy. I lost my best friend to cancer in August and my friend/classmate to suicide in October. The darkness does turn into light when you are able to process your grief in a healthy way. Although I think about my friends a lot, I try not to dwell on the fact that they are no longer with me in the physical. A part of me believes that their spirits lives on in my heart. 

Allow yourself space to reflect, but do not push others away. There is always someone in your life who cares immensely about you and your mental health. Love yourself and live life for your deceased loved ones.