4 Ways Relationships Might Change When Facing Grief
Experiencing the death of a loved one is often the biggest challenge a person faces. Grieving can feel overwhelming and consume every facet of your life. It is during this time that you need the comfort of others the most, and yet social connections often feel strained or flipped upside-down as you navigate grief and relationships.
Here are four ways relationships can shift when you are trying to navigate the loss of a loved one:
1. Your Support System May Surprise You
You may be surprised who steps up in your greatest hour of need. Some of your closest loved ones, those who have been by your side through dating and childbirth and other life dilemmas, may not be able to be there for you during your bereavement. It is often people you’d least expect who show up to hold your hand while you grieve. An old friend you’ve lost touch with, a co-worker you’ve hardly spoken to but who understands the complexities of living with death… these are sometimes the people who help the hurt go away.
2. You Will Feel Angry – And That’s Okay
You will try and understand why your closest friends and relatives seem to have abandoned you during one of the most painful times in your life. But understanding won’t make the pain of it go away.
Yes, it’s important to realize that not everyone can cope with death and loss, including the people closest to you. It’s also important to recognize that feeling this additional pain, and even anger and resentment about feeling abandoned, is totally normal and okay.
3. People Will Avoid You
Losing loved ones is something all of us will go through, but some people cannot handle this reality. Just the thought of a loved one dying is more than many people can bear. Seeing your pain and sitting with you in your time of darkness will force others to look this stark reality in the face. Many people simply can’t do it. If you find that friends and relatives seem to be avoiding you, understand it is most likely because they cannot handle their own fears of loss.
4. You Will Have Something in Common with Others
For most people, it’s hard to understand certain things until they experience it themselves: Having children, running a marathon, getting divorced. Losing a loved one is certainly on this list as well. While your current group of loved ones will try to empathize with you, the reality is that you now belong to a special club and those who you feel close to and understood by may change.
This does not mean you will no longer feel close to those you did before the loss, but it means you have now changed and how you perceive the world and others has changed as well.
Relationships are hard, and they can be more difficult during periods of loss and grief. It’s important that you are gentle with yourself during this time and seek help. Consider joining a support group. Being around those who share your pain firsthand can be a comfort during this time.
You may also want the guidance of a therapist who can help you navigate your complex emotions and offer tools to work through your grief.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Experiencing the death of a loved one is one of the most painful things a person faces
The shock of your beloved friend or family member having passed away, along with the finality of their death is difficult to deal with.
Everyone Mourns Differently
The process of mourning is a very personal experience. Because grief is so personal, each person reacts differently to the death of a loved one; your instinct may be to reach out and connect, and the instinct of your friend or relative may be to retreat, distract themselves with work or hobbies or shut down.
Your relationship with the deceased was a unique one, so the process in which you grieve the loss will also be unique and personal to you. The close friends and family that you would expect to be there for you in one of the most challenging times of your life may not be present in the way you’d hoped or anticipated. Even your spouse or partner may not provide the comfort you’d expect.
Relationships Impacted by Grief Will Change
Although it’s disappointing and hurtful to experience what feels like a breakdown in your relationships when you need them the most, you must realize that your friends, family and spouse are likely also affected by grief, and going through their own process of mourning.
It’s also important not to rely solely on your spouse for comfort. It’s healthier for both of you, and will ease the stress on your marriage, if you have other people to turn to for help.
The impact of grief is an incredible strain on your existing relationships, as who you are as a person is temporarily altered as you struggle to cope with the loss and find a way to move forward. Your close friends and loved ones may have difficulty coping with how you’re mourning, causing them to pull away temporarily. They could also be very used to seeing you as a source of strength, and a pillar, and seeing you in this vulnerable state (in addition to possibly dealing with their own grief) is more than they can bear.
Seek Out New Sources of Support
Maintaining relationships takes effort, and they’re vulnerable to the difficulties we face as we move through life. You may need to turn to distant family members, other friends or acquaintances, make new connections through bereavement groups or seek professional help from a mental health counselor to find solace and understanding.
Although we can expect bereavement to change our relationships, we can also expect some semblance of normalcy as everyone affected copes with the loss over the passage of time. By forgiving friends or loved ones who weren’t there for you as you dealt with your grief, you can re-establish lost connections.
If you’re having difficulty with your relationships as you grieve and need some understanding and guidance, please give me a call and we can set up an appointment to talk.
Losing someone we love can cause us to feel angry, anxious or depressed.
When coping with grief, it may feel like you can’t move forward, or you don’t know how you can continue living in a world without your loved one in it.
To help deal with these intense and overwhelming emotions, turning to meditation can help. Meditation is a practice of calm and silence, where the frenetic thoughts and worries in your mind are quieted for a moment of reflection or mindfulness. Through meditation, you can begin to calm your emotions, assess your feelings, and come to a place of acceptance and peace.
A Meditation to Cope with Grief:
- Choose a quiet, comfortable space to sit where you can be alone for 15 to 20 minutes. Play some soft ambient music if you like.
- Close your eyes and begin by taking slow, mindful and natural deep breaths: in through the nose, then slowly exhale.
- Try to push away any thoughts or worries and concentrate only on being in this moment.
- Think of the face of the person you’re missing, and imagine them before you, now. You can imagine that their spirit is there with you, or you can simply envision their face.
- Express anything you’d like to them. Focus on making the conversation loving and compassionate. If you’d like, you can reimagine a memory. Put yourself back in time with your loved one and imagine experiencing everything in that moment.
- Thank your loved one for coming to visit you. Imagine a peaceful and gentle goodbye.
- Slowly bring your awareness back to the room. Feel the energy of yourself from the top of your head to your toes as you take slow and natural deep breaths.
Try this meditation any time you feel the need to do so.
There are apps you can download for your smartphone or tablet to help guide you through different meditations; just search for “meditation” in the App Store. You can also search YouTube for “meditations for grief” and try the guided meditations available there for free.
There is no one way to grieve; everyone grieves differently. There’s also no time table or deadline. The journey of grief is a very personal one, and the only way to get through it is to deal with the emotions you’re experiencing as they come.
If you’re having trouble moving forward after losing someone you love and would like some help, please give me a call today so we can set up an appointment.
You’re not grieving wrong!
Experiencing the death of a loved one is the hardest thing we can go through in this life. What can make grieving even more challenging is the feeling that we’re somehow doing it wrong.
But grieving is a unique experience and there is truly no “right” way to do it. Author Anne Morrow Lindberg put it best when she said, “… suffering … no matter how multiplied, is always individual.”
While there is no one right way to grieve the loss of a loved one, there are some guidelines that will help you heal.
You Will Survive the Loss
The pain of a loved one’s death is so great that we often feel it may cause our own death. But it’s important to remember that emotions, no matter how big, cannot harm you.
In fact, not feeling emotions and bottling them up can often make the situation, and sometimes our health, much worse. Avoiding the pain of loss tends to stunt our grieving and we end up taking our pain with us into our future.
Understand the Ebb and Flow of Grief
Grieving is a process with no stillness. There is always movement; an ebb and flow to our grief. After a few weeks, you may have a day when you feel like you can finally catch your breath; where you notice how pretty a sunny day is, and when you dog can make you laugh again. And then the very next day, you feel that old, familiar darkness and despair slide under your skin.
This is natural, and it’s important for you to pay attention to these rhythms of grief. The more you become aware of the ebb and flow of your personal journey, the more you’ll believe that someday there will be more good days than bad.
Practice Self Care
It’s important during this time that you care for yourself as you would a dear friend. Make sure that you get enough rest and try and eat well, even when eating seems like the last thing you want to do. Keeping up your strength is important during this time.
Try and get fresh air and move your body. This will help alleviate the stress and tension you have been feeling. And above all, be kind to yourself mentally and emotionally. Don’t chide yourself for crying in the bathroom on your lunch break. You would never do that to a dear friend, would you? Just let yourself feel your feelings when they come and be gentle with yourself.
The people who love you will want to help you during the weeks and months that follow the loss. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help and support. If you need someone to watch the baby so you can go out for a much-needed run, ask. If your spouse was always the one to handle repairs around the house, ask a family member to come over and help.
It’s also a good idea to seek the guidance of a therapist who can help you work through your emotions and develop coping skills.
If you or a loved one is reeling from a personal loss and is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.