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Coping with Loss and Grief: A Guide to Healing

Clinical Psychologist, Vanessa Toledo

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November 22, 2022

Coping with Loss and Grief: A Guide to Healing

Coping with Loss and Grief: A Guide to Healing

Grief is a universal response to a kind of loss from losing a loved one to divorce, or a significant life change. Unfortunately, we are all likely to experience this universal human experience at some point in our lives. As we navigate through the complexities of loss and grief, it is important to remind ourselves that this journey can be challenging. In this article, we’ll delve into stages of grief, understanding the nature of its universality, and discover the transformative path toward healing. Join MeTime Healing in the journey of unraveling the twists and turns of loss and grief and discovering ways to build resilience and emotional well-being.

Definition of Loss and Grief:

Loss and grief are inseparable elements of our lives, forming a complex and interconnected relationship. Understanding their nature is crucial in navigating the challenges of the grieving process. Loss is a fundamental part of human experience. Throughout our lives we are prone to embark upon some kind of loss whether it is the loss of a loved one, a job, a relationship or even something as moving away from a familiar place. These losses are universal in the sense that they are independent of culture, age, and background. Grief is more than just a natural response to loss. It is a sincere emotional, spiritual and physical experience. Irrespective of who we are or where we are from, grief brings out a range of emotions from sadness to anger, confusion to acceptance. Just like loss, these emotional experiences are shared by everyone around us. As MeTime Healing, we acknowledge the universal language of grief, offering a space where everyone around the world can find support and comfort. Screen Shot 2024-01-24 at 2.05.28 PM.png

Stages of Grief:

The commonly recognized stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance – provide a framework for understanding the emotional experiences that we often go through when facing a loss. However, it is very crucial to remember that grief is a unique experience and healing is not linear. Not every one of us goes through these stages in the same order or some of us may need to revisit some stages through the process of grief. Denial acts as a defense mechanism, helping people to cope with the overwhelming burden of loss. In other words, it is a buffer against the reality of loss and the intense emotions that come with it. Anger is a natural response to perceived injustice of loss. As denial fades away, the pain from the loss becomes more significant leading to feelings of frustration. Anger might be projected to oneself, to the person they lost or to an external factor. Bargaining is a way of trying to regain control or undo the reality of loss. In this stage, the individual might try to make deals or negotiate to reverse the loss. This stage might involve making promises to a higher power or trying to find alternative solutions. Depression develops as the individual fully faces the loss. Profound sadness, loneliness and despair are the main characteristics of this stage. The individual confronts the harsh reality of life without the thing or person they have lost and go into a mourning period. Acceptance is making peace with the reality of loss and it is the final stage of the model. It does not necessarily mean that the pain of loss fully disappears, but rather finding a way to live with the loss. It is a step forward towards normalcy and healing. Once again, it is important to recognize that this model is a general guide for understanding the emotional responses to grief rather than being a rigid roadmap. While grief is a universal experience, it is also important to honor its unique journey. The way we grieve is shaped by our memories, culture, individual relationships, and even coping mechanisms. Remember, no two paths are the same. In our grieving period we find our own ways to remember, cherish and celebrate the lives and moments that shaped us.

The Physical Impact of Grief:

Grief does not only manifest itself as an emotional experience; it can affect us physically. The emotional burden of loss can contribute to the feelings of fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, aches and pains, and even a weakened immune system. One may experience loss of appetite as the other may find comfort in eating, resulting in weight gain. Some individuals can find it challenging to keep their usual sleep pattern. It is common to experience insomnia, nightmares, or disrupted sleep after experiencing loss. Grief can also be accompanied by physical aches. Emotional distress of loss can impact headaches and muscle pain. The stress linked to grief can also weaken the immune system, making us prone to illnesses. Screen Shot 2024-01-11 at 3.19.41 PM.png

Grief and Mental Health:

Prolonged and unresolved grief can have a significant effect on mental health. When left unattended, grief can set the ground for clinical depression and anxiety. Persistent feelings of sadness and despair connected to grief may evolve into

depression. Grief can also contribute to heightened anxiety, excessive worry and restlessness. Recognizing the signs of overwhelming grief and its importance on mental health is not enough on its own. It is also crucial to seek support when needed. Grieving individuals may find comfort in sharing their feelings with loved ones, family, or mental health professionals. Talking openly about what you are going through may be a transformative experience in the path of healing. Professional support, such as therapy, provides a nonjudgmental space to explore emotions in a compassionate environment. Acknowledging when grief becomes overwhelming and seeking support is an essential step in the healing journey. Healing from grief is not forgetting what you experienced, it is also not about the pain disappearing. Rather it is about finding a way to live with the pain, finding a way forward. Healing requires time, self-compassion, self-care and often external support. As MeTime Healing, we provide a valuable resource navigating grief. We recognize the importance of this process and provide a platform for individuals to connect with mental health counselors specialized in grief. We offer a supportive community, and expert guidance in this universal human experience.

Coping Strategies and Self-Care:

● Expressing Emotions: Allow yourself to feel and express the range of emotions that comes with grief through journaling, talking to friends, or art. ● Creating Rituals: Create traditions in the memory of your loved one to provide a sense of connection. ● Self-Care: It is important to take care of your mental and physical well-being. Exercising, adequate rest, and eating nutritious food can contribute to your overall resilience through these times. ● Seeking Professional Support: Engaging in therapy will offer a safe space to express, understand, and gain insight into the range of emotions you are going through. Grief is not linear, it comes with ups and downs. Together with acknowledging its universality, honoring the individual differences, and seeking support, we can find a path to healing from grief. MeTime Healing provides a safe and compassionate space for individuals going through their own journey toward healing, building resilience and gaining a renewed sense of hope. Remember, every individual goes through their unique process and it is okay to take the time you need navigating the complexities of grief.

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