Grief, for the most part, takes us by surprise.
Even when it is anticipated, it can still feel like a shock. The initial response to losing a loved one varies from person to person, as there is a whole array of emotions felt during the pain of loss.
Although many guides refer to the stages of loss, it is not so easy to journey through them neatly stage by stage until you are eventually ‘healed’. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one or been around someone who has lost someone dear to them; you will know that grief is unpredictable and messy.
An initial response to the loss of a loved one as mentioned earlier can be shock, denial and avoidance in order to not deal with the loss. When this happens I can assure you that it is a valid response, because the weight of the loss can feel enormous and too much to carry.
Rando speaks about the ‘Six R Processes of Mourning’, where the first step in mourning is to ‘Recognise the loss’.
What does it mean to ‘recognise the loss’ of a loved one?
‘Recognising the loss means acknowledging and understanding the death’.
How do we acknowledge and understand the death of a loved one?
I’m tempted to say that you can never really understand death, but we can understand that our loved one has died. It is extremely sad when a loved one has died. Acknowledging your loved ones absence does not mean that you need to be happy about the fact that they are no longer alive.
It simply means that you allow yourself to understand how they have died and process that they have died. It also means that you allow yourself to process those feelings and react to the hurt and pain with your emotions. Their death is a separation and well worth the emotions that you may experience as a griever.
Allowing yourself to process grief emotions
Avoiding the reality of the loss can be a reaction but should not be a long term coping mechanism. We can agree that grief harbors a complex array of emotions. There are many different feelings felt, sometimes conflicting emotions can be felt at the same time. This is usually quite difficult to manage and in the early stages of grief, they are overwhelming to say the least.
We have written about emotions and the expression of them along the grief journey. It is really important to allow yourself to feel those emotions, and sit with them. Although, it is not an easy thing to do, in fact it’s harder than bottling your feelings up. However, in the long run, the expression of emotion is good for your physical and mental well-being.
Over the last few years, we at Balanced Wheel have been dedicated to sharing resources on grief and ways to support those grieving. We have shared a full range of personal stories, guides and informational articles on the various areas on coping with loss. We have included below some specific posts that may be beneficial for you as you acknowledge and accept the loss of your loved one.
Allowing emotions is an integral part of the grief healing journey, as it will allow you to understand and accept the loss. Which means you can eventually move forward and get used to a world without your loved one being present.
That does not sound great, but unfortunately facing the reality of death is a bitter pill to swallow.
It is important to remember that your love for the person who is deceased does not need to die, they live on the special memories, stories and the connections that you both shared.
Abimbola is passionate about working with families to build resilience. She founded In Every Season, which aims to provide resources for those navigating through life’s various challenging seasons and help them sustain a healthy family dynamic. She also authored My Sisters Are Not Good At Wrestling, a children’s picture book on grief that will provide comfort and hope for children and adults.