Grief – My Personal Experience of Coping
My first experience of grief was at 10 years old. When a school friend was killed in a road accident, knocked over by a car. I still remember the shock, sadness and helplessness. When he was not in the class at the start of comprehensive school.
Later in life, when my grandparents died was another emotionally wrenching time. Although I do feel some comfort in that they had relatively long lives. Because it seems natural almost in the grand order of nature that they pass away at some point.
It’s more difficult to cope with experiencing the death of my best friend to cancer at 31 years old, my younger brother at 41 to a failed liver transplant and close friends to suicide and cancer at 41, 43 and 44. These events seem so desperately unfair and can result in deep emotional upset and struggle to carry on living.
I have recently supported a close friend with grief using the NLP techniques that I am privileged to have in my skill set as an ABNLP certified Master Coach and Practitioner. Not surpassing the natural grief process, these techniques enabled them to cope easier and deal with the process of self-management of their thoughts and emotions more effective.
If you are experiencing grief or know someone who is then please know there is help available and as you read this article your knowledge and insight will increase and you may feel more able to have that conversation. You could make all the difference to some.
What is Grief?
Grief is defined as “intense sorrow especially caused as a result of someone’s death”. This is often magnified when the person dies from suicide. Sometimes making the grieving process more complex and difficult to resolve but there are many excellent organisations and support resources available to help you.
How can grief impact you?
The way grief affects you depends on a whole range of things. Including your upbringing, values and beliefs, physical and mental health. Some natural responses to bereavement by suicide include confusion, guilt and shame and isolation. Feelings and emotions like these are a natural part of the grieving process. Know that if you are experiencing these right now, and I appreciate how overwhelming and excruciatingly painful these can be, they will ease with time.
Initially you may feel numb. The event may even seem surreal, almost like you are living in a dream or even that something has not really happened. This can often be perceived by others as being ’strong’ or ‘uncaring’. It’s important to realise that we never “get over” the death of someone we love, we learn to live differently without them with their memories to help and guide us.
When you begin the grieving process you may feel any or all of the following effects:
- Shocked or numb
- Anxious or agitated
- Lacking in purpose
- Loss of hope
(Marie Curie/Cruse 2019)
You may also find it very difficult to concentrate, focus or carry out tasks that would normally be easy for you. There is no right or wrong way and definitely no timetable for grieving. We are all unique individuals with our own models of the world and each person’s grieving is unique to them.
It is common for people who are grieving to swing between feeling OK for one minute and upset the next, seemingly without any warning. You may find these feelings come in waves or bursts that are unpredictable and can evoke feeling feelings of worry, anxiety, shame or fear. This is completely normal.
What can I do?
Grief is a normal process and although not pleasant does get easier as we learn to live differently with our loved one. However, sometimes we need professional help and that’s OK. If you feel you are not coping, noticing health issues that you did not have before or are concerned in any way then professional advice from your GP is advised. They are there to help you.
There are also several resources and organisations that provide web based and phone line support. You could try:
Cruse Bereavement Care on 0808 808 1677
Samaritans on 116 123
Support for children and young people on www.hopeagain.org.uk
If you feel able there are also lots of ways you can help yourself to cope and maintain your physical and mental health as you grieve. These include:
Talking is often a good way to soothe painful emotions. Maybe to a friend or family member, health professional or mind-set coach.
Allow yourself to feel sad
This is totally normal and part of the grieving process
Maintain your usual routine where possible
Keep up the simple daily routines can help.
Emotional strain can make you very tired. So If you are having trouble meditation and mindfulness can help. If lack of sleep is consistent then seek GP support.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Ensuring you are getting the nutrients and vitamins to remain healthy is vital.
Avoid trying to numb the pain
It can be a painful process when you are grieving. Using drugs and alcohol can make things worse rather than help us to manage. Access the support resources available if you feel this is becoming a may have the potential to be a problem.
As a certified Meditation teacher & facilitator I know that taking regular exercise and participating in activities such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness have also shown to be really helpful for people experiencing grief. Because grief is an individual, unique and personal process so in turn this means what we find useful to support us will also be unique. So take time to find what works for you and in all cases if you feel you need support see you GP and use the resources that you will find available on the internet.
I hope you have find some value in reading this. If I can be of any help you can contact me.