Loss is an inescapable part of life—something that many of us must confront at some point—but losing a loved one can be one of the most agonizing experiences you’ll ever face.
When a loved one passes away, it can be devastating, whether it’s a close friend, spouse, parent, child, or other relative. You may experience intense and difficult emotions ranging from deep sadness, emptiness, and despair to shock, numbness, guilt, and regret. Your anger may be directed at yourself, doctors, other loved ones, or God, as a result of your loved one’s death, or you may have difficulty accepting that he or she is gone or accepting that you must recover and move on.
Physical signs of grief can occur in addition to emotional ones. A grieving person may experience weight and appetite declines, difficulty sleeping, aches and pains, and an impaired immune system, resulting in health issues and other problems.
Despite the amount of pain you’re in right now, it’s important to recognize that there are healthy methods to deal with your grief and come to terms with your grief. With help from grief counselors at Restoration Counseling, you’ll eventually be able to ease your suffering, look towards the future with hope, and eventually move forward in faith.
Understanding the Grief of Losing a Loved One
There are several elements that determine how intensely you grieve, including the circumstances of your loved one’s death, the amount of time you spent anticipating their death, your relationship with them, and your previous experiences with grief. Every loss is unique as is every relationship.
Losing a Spouse or Partner
In addition to the grief’s emotional toll, you must handle practical concerns, such as arranging a funeral and handling financial issues, when you lose a spouse or romantic partner. You may also have to inform your children about your spouse’s demise and find a way to console them as you handle your own sorrow.
When a partner dies, you also grieve the loss of your daily routine, your shared history, and the future you envisioned together. You may feel isolated, despondent, and concerned about the future. You may even feel guilty for failing to protect your loved one, or angry that they abandoned you.
Losing a Parent
The death of a parent or guardian, especially one who was loving and supportive, can be one of the most devastating events in a child’s life. The death of a person on whom you rely on can shake your foundations and leave a huge, terrifying void in your world. Blaming oneself for a parent’s death is also common in young children, prolonging the suffering of grief.
Even as an adult, the loss of a parent can be extremely upsetting. You may suddenly feel lost and vulnerable as if all those old childhood insecurities returned. You may feel some comfort if your parent lived a long and fulfilling life, but their death may also cause you to consider your own mortality. When both of your parents die, you become an older generation without parents, and you must grieve your youth as well as your parent’s death. If your relationship with your parent was difficult, their death may leave you wrestling with a variety of conflicting emotions.
Losing a Child
Losing a child is always devastating. You not only forfeit the person they were, but also the decades of promise, hopes, and dreams that lay ahead. Grief can be more profound, bereavement processes more difficult to traverse, and trauma more severe as a consequence of the loss of a child.
Your child’s health and security are your priorities, and the feeling of guilt can often be overwhelming as a parent. Whether you lost your child due to miscarriage, an infant, or after he or she had grown up, losing a child carries a sense of injustice. A parent’s inability to outlive their child makes it difficult to find meaning and come to terms with their death, particularly since it seems unnatural.
Having a child pass away can also be detrimental to your relationship with your spouse or partner and make caring for any surviving children difficult emotionally.
Losing a Close Friend
Friendships have a huge impact on our well-being and overall health. We value the joy, understanding, and companionship that they provide. It’s not surprising that the loss of a close friend is so painful, but it’s easy to feel marginalized and stripped of significance when one dies. Your connection to a best friend may not be given the same importance as a family member or a romantic partner when they die. This leads to what is known as disenfranchised grief, in which a loss is devalued or you are judged or stigmatized for grieving.
The Stages of Grief and Its Effect On Your Mental Health
There is nothing neat or linear about grief. It does not adhere to a schedule or timeline. You may cry, become furious, withdraw, or feel empty, for example. These are all perfectly normal and acceptable reactions to grief. Everyone grieves in different ways, but there are some commonalities in the phases and the order in which grief is experienced. These are referred to as the stages of grief.
Stage 1 – Denial
When you’re experiencing such a significant and sudden change in emotions, it’s normal to pretend that it’s not occurring. Denying allows time to gradually absorb the news and begin to process it, which is a common defense mechanism. In this situation, numbness to the situation’s intensity is the goal. As you come out of denial, you’ll be confronted with a lot of sadness you’ve suppressed.
Stage 2 – Anger
Anger serves as camouflage. The anger you wear masks many of the distressing emotions and wounds you hold. It is possible to direct it at a number of people, including your deceased loved one, your previous employer, or your old colleague. Even if you are aware that the target of your anger is not at fault, you will not be able to act rationally at that moment. Anger may disguise itself as bitterness or rancor. As your anger declines, you will be able to think more rationally about what is happening and feel the emotions you have been suppressing.
Stage 3 – Bargaining
When you lose someone, you feel helpless and vulnerable. It is not uncommon for people to seek control or hope for a favorable outcome when they are experiencing intense emotions. When dealing with bereavement, you might engage in a lot of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ speculations. It is not uncommon for religious people to make bargains or promises to God or a higher power in return for healing or alleviating grief and misery. Bargaining is a form of psychological defense against grief’s sadness, confusion, and distress. It allows you to put off the hurt, sadness, and bewilderment.
Stage 4 – Depression
Despite the fact that bargaining and anger seem very active, depression is a quiet phase of grief. In the beginning stages of bereavement, you may be attempting to outrun your emotions in order to stay a step ahead of them. By now, you may be able to accept and deal with them in a healthier way. You may also isolate yourself from others in order to cope with your loss. You may feel heavy, foggy, perplexed, and overwhelmed. If you feel stuck here or are unable to move beyond the grieving process, you may speak with a mental health professional. A therapist can assist you as you deal with this phase of mourning.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
Acceptance isn’t always a cheerful or uplifting phase of grief. It doesn’t imply you’ve moved beyond the loss or grief. It does, however, signify that you’ve accepted it and come to understand what it means in your life now. You may feel considerably different in this phase. That’s perfectly natural. You’ve had a significant life change, and this disrupts the way you see lots of things. You may still have bad days, and that’s fine. Look for acceptance as a sign that there may be more good days than bad ones and that you’re finally moving on.
Despite the fact that the pain of losing someone you love never completely fades away, it should no longer be the bulk of your thoughts. If you are unable to resume your life because of the constant and severe pain of losing someone, you may have persistent complex bereavement disorder or complicated grief.
It is like being trapped in a state of profound bereavement. An endless mourning process. You may not be able to come to terms with the demise or be so focused on the person that it interferes with your routine and damages other relationships. Signs include:
- Missing your loved one intensely
- Denial of their death
- Intrusive thoughts of them
- Searching for them
- Avoiding anything that reminds you of them
- Extreme bitterness or anger
- Feeling empty
How Grief Can Make You Question Your Faith
When you suffer a loss, it is common for you to question your faith, experience spiritual difficulties, and express anger towards God. When a loved one dies, you might feel confused about your feelings towards your religion and faith. Grief may lead you to associate your faith and religion with your loved one’s demise.
Anyone can experience a faith crisis at any moment, but it’s especially common when a loved one has passed away. To regain your faith after a tragedy or loss, you must reconnect with your values and your higher power. Healing, reflection, and prayer are all elements of the process that will help you reconnect with what you once relied on for comfort and solace.
You should not disconnect your faith from your sorrow and anguish after a loved one has passed away. Your faith should support and understand your grief, even when you are angry at God for taking away a loved one. Your faith will be there for you and care for you as you grieve, even if your loved one’s death does not make logical sense from a worldly perspective. With time and the assistance of those who support you, you’ll create new connections with your religion as you work through your loss.
It’s hard to know how best to care for a loved one who is grieving. What do you say? What do you do? It is one of the best things you can do to be there and listen. A lot of the time, people are looking for sympathy and compassion rather than advice. When you or someone you know is going through a loss, you must remember that it is a process and there is no set timetable. You may want to reach out to someone who has lost someone periodically, especially on important days like anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays.
Aside from turning to friends, individuals struggling with grief can also find support through local support groups and Christian counseling.
- Christian Grief Counseling – Pastoral or biblical grief counseling blends conventional psychological and psychotherapy methods with religious values to provide mental health treatment. A religious-based method of healing enables you to boost your mental health and relationships while healing your pain and suffering. When you’re dealing with the most challenging times after suffering a loss, biblical teachings, scripture, and parables are used to help you along in the healing process. To receive counseling based on Christian values, you must accept your life’s experiences based on God’s will. This type of counseling is based on the teachings in the Bible.
A Christian mental health professional will describe how God’s will, as explained in the Bible, might contradict the wishes and objectives of people who care about their deceased loved ones. Biblical counseling enables individuals to accept their loss as a component of God’s overall masterplan, rather than as a personal loss. This therapy method is great for people who want to blend their religious values and upbringing with their grief recovery process and journey.
- Christian Grief Support Groups – Grief support groups provide individuals who recently lost a loved one with emotional support, validation, and information about grief. Grief support groups are gaining popularity because of their effectiveness in educating people about grief and helping them heal from the loss of a close friend or family member. The establishment of bereavement groups has been shown to produce a strong positive impact based on both the psycho-educational aspects of groups and the “safe haven” setting in which people can express their emotions and release their feelings.
Restoration Counseling is Here For You
No two individuals experience loss in the same manner. You may need months or years to get over your grief. Fortunately, our grief counselors can help. At Restoration Counseling, we can assist you in expressing any repressed emotions and restoring your faith in God’s plan.
To learn more about grief counseling or any of the other faith-based services we offer, contact Restoration Counseling today. You are not alone.