Processing Grief: Finding Your New Normal After Someone You Care for Dies

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Processing Grief: Finding Your New Normal After Someone You Care for Dies

The loss of a loved one can be a very difficult time. In addition to wading through legal documents and getting arrangements in order, feelings of depression, loneliness, anger, and other emotions can be difficult to process. How do you heal from the loss of a loved one? Grieving is different for everyone, but here a few ways to help you feel like there is a sense of order during a stressful and sometimes chaotic time..

The 5 Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief are a set of emotions and phases many individuals experience after losing a loved one. The model was developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler as a guide for those attempting to understand and come to terms with their emotions during the grieving process.

The five stages of grief are:

  • Shock and Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression and Loneliness
  • Acceptance and Hope

Knowing and understanding the stages of grief allows one to fully process each of these emotions, allowing them to move toward healing and hope. While each caregiver, or person, may not experience each of the five stages as a whole or in order, using the model allows people and therapists to create a plan for healing that acknowledges the pain while celebrating the lives of those we’ve lost.

Shock and Denial

You may experience shock, emotional numbness, or even denial of what has happened. You may question the purpose of life, the purpose of your pain, and you may wonder how you’ll be able to continue on. Wondering if life will ever return to “normal.” Many people find themselves asking how God could allow this to happen and how he could allow them to suffer during this stage of the grieving process.

Anger

But as you move beyond the initial shock of the loss of a loved one, you may find yourself angry. Angry at others, angry at yourself, or even angry at God. Don’t be alarmed. Feelings of anger are a very natural part of the grieving process. Instead, try to understand and evaluate your anger, which allows you to express the innermost feelings that stem from your fears and your loss. Keep in mind anger is a normal response to grief.

Bargaining or Guilt

During this phase of the grieving process, a person may wonder if they could have done more to prevent the loss of their loved one. They may bargain with God, offering to do anything in order for their loved one to be returned. During the guilt phase, you may wonder “if only.” “If only I had done this or that, he or she would still be here.” Remind yourself life is not endless for any of us, and one cannot move through the process of grief while holding onto the idea that any particular action could have prevented death.

Depression and Loneliness

Knowing these emotions are normal can bring some comfort, but if you are experiencing feelings of depression,  loneliness, or thoughts of suicide, seek professional medical help. The loss of a loved one can be a difficult burden to bear alone. Working with a therapist or counselor who can offer support and comfort can help us process our grief and move through the five stages to find hope and healing.

Acceptance and Hope

The final stage of the grieving process may take months or years to reach. The reality is you may never be the same. The loss of a loved one can change our mindset, our outlook on life, and our circumstances for an extended period of time. Accepting the loss and allowing yourself to have hope for the future allows you to both acknowledge your loss while working to fulfill your life’s remaining purpose.

The 4 Tasks of Grief

Much like the five stages of grief, the tasks of grief are a set of processes that one can use as a guide to grief.

  • Accept the reality of the loss.
  • Experience the pain of the loss.
  • Adjust to the new environment.
  • Reinvest in the new reality.
 

Connect with Others who Understand

Interacting with others experiencing the same feelings of loss and grief is one of the most important ways to work through what you’re feeling during such a difficult time. Knowing you are not alone in your grief, and being able to discuss your raw emotions with others who can relate allows you to open your heart and mind to the healing process. You can find support groups for caregivers as well as those grieving the loss of loved ones online and in your local community.

Blogs

Blogs offer a convenient educational resource accessible online while also connecting readers with others who share their experiences. There are blogs for caregivers allowing readers to share their prayer requests.

Online Communities

There are many online communities where users can interact with other caregivers to find support and encouragement. Here are just a few that encourage interaction among caregivers.

Family Caregiver Alliance

The Family Caregiver Alliance offers an opportunity for caregivers to connect with others to share their stories and find support from others who have experienced loss, depression, loneliness, and more. Family Caregiver Alliance also offers webinars and other educational tools for caregivers.

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Reddit Threads for Caregivers

Reddit is a user-created, content-driven site offering various communities for those seeking answers or feedback. The Reddit caregiver community offers valuable insight from caregivers around the world who share their practical advice for coping with grief following the loss of a loved one, finding employment as a caregiver, finding fulfillment and purpose as a caregiver, and more.

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Local Support Groups

If you are not active online or if you seek in-person support, you may consider local support groups that provide encouragement and counseling for caregivers.

Grief Counseling and Support

If you are a member of a religious organization, your place of worship may offer grief counseling and support. Many therapists are also available for grief counseling and encouragement to help work through feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. GoodTherapy offers the ability to find therapists specializing in grief counseling through their website.

FIND A GRIEF COUNSELOR NEAR ME

CareLink Caregiver Support

In Central Arkansas, CareLink’s family caregiver services provide support and education for family caregivers. Just a few of the ways CareLink serves family caregivers include:

 

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Posted by Meredith Hale at 2:00 PM