What is grieving?
It’s a normal process that accompanies major losses or separations that leave you devastated (for example, the death of an important person, the end of a romantic relationship, or the loss of a pet).
Grieving means experiencing a range of emotions. It’s important to talk about how you feel and, most of all, don’t isolate yourself.
How long does it last?
The duration and intensity of grieving vary from one person to another and one situation to another.
What’s it like?
Grieving is often accompanied by several emotions such as sadness, confusion, guilt, stress, and anxiety. It’s important to talk about how you feel and not to isolate yourself.
Grieving takes many forms and can last for weeks, months, or years. Everyone experiences it differently, and there are several stages of grieving. When you are grieving, it’s normal for you to want to stay in your own space, but it’s important to continue doing activities you enjoy, to take your mind off things.
It can do you a lot of good to talk about how you feel with people you trust. You can also discuss things with other people who are also experiencing grief. You can support each other. You can also contact Tel-jeunes if you want to talk.
The stages of grieving
1. Shock and denial
At this stage, you’re in a state of shock and you find it hard to believe it’s true and accept what has happened. Some people may be unable to react or to feel emotions. It’s as if they were “paralyzed.” Other people may cry or feel nostalgic or irritable.
At this stage, you may feel a lot of anger, frustration, sense of injustice, and inability to understand. You may also feel sad, anxious, tense, agitated, or demotivated. You might also engage in unusual behaviour. You might tend to displace your anger onto your friends or family. Being angry is normal. On the other hand, verbal or physical aggression is not an acceptable way of expressing your anger. Talking about it or weeping with rage are acceptable.
3. Resolution of grief
At this stage, you accept the loss. By accepting it, you are able to keep your good memories – and also the not-so-good ones. You start to have more confidence in yourself, you feel better, and the future doesn’t look as dark as before. You have new dreams; you’re able to enjoy yourself. You feel that this test could make you stronger.
One thing is certain: you need to give yourself time to overcome your grief. This can take weeks, months, or even years. With time, the pain will ease and you’ll only keep your memories of the lost person or animal, without the sad, painful emotion you had right after the loss.
What should you do when you’re grieving?
When you’re grieving, you really need to take time for yourself. Do you know how to do that?
Here is some advice to help you do things that will make you feel better during your grief.
- Give yourself time. The wound can take time to heal. Respect your own pace and accept that you’re not going to feel better right away. With time, the pain will ease. You won’t forget the person you’ve lost, but the loss won’t hurt as much.
- Keep your good memories. Take the time to remember the good times you had together.
- Surround yourself with friends and people you like who understand what you’re feeling. Don’t isolate yourself.
- Talk about it. Express what you’re feeling to someone you trust, such as a friend, a parent, another adult you like, or a professional, or contact Tel-jeunes. You’ll see that you’re not alone in feeling all these emotions.
- Do something to take your mind off things. Even if you still don’t feel like it, continue to see your friends and do activities that have always made you feel good.
- Don’t blame yourself. That won’t bring the person back – it will only make your grief or anger worse.
- Take care of yourself. Other people around you may also be grieving. You can support each other mutually, but you don’t have to take all their grief on your shoulders. You have your own grief to work through.
- Avoid alcohol or drugs. In these tough times, some people tend to consume alcohol or drugs in the hope of numbing their pain. This behaviour never helps to overcome grief. On the contrary, it can make the pain worse and cause other problems (click here to find out more about drug and alcohol dependence).
- Try to sleep and eat well. Keeping a healthy lifestyle gives you enough energy to live through this difficult period.
You’ll see: with time, the pain will ease, even if you can’t see an end to it now.