Help­ing to deal with the im­pact of loss

West Sussex County Times - - Family Announceme­nts -

Grief af­fects us all at one time or an­other in our lives – whether it be due to the death of a loved one or some other form ofloss.

“It is a nor­mal emo­tion we feel as a re­sponse to loss,” says Claire Collins, a be­reave­ment co­or­di­na­tor with Marie Curie (www. mariecurie.org.uk).

“Through­out our lives we ex­pe­ri­ence many dif­fer­ent types of loss, such as re­la­tion­ship break­downs, re­dun­dancy, fi­nan­cial, health and the death of a loved one. Th­ese losses can of­ten lead to a fur­ther se­ries of losses.”

WHAT ARE THE COM­MON SYMP­TOMS OF GRIEF?

“Many symp­toms of grief can be ex­pe­ri­enced af­ter the loss of a loved one,” says Claire. “The emo­tional re­sponses in­clude shock, numb­ness, de­nial, iso­la­tion, lone­li­ness, sad­ness, anger, de­spair, empti­ness, help­less­ness, fear and anx­i­ety.

“We can­not ‘see’ th­ese emo­tions, but there may be more ob­vi­ous phys­i­cal symp­toms such as dis­rupted sleep (sleep­ing more or in­abil­ity to sleep), loss of ap­petite, tear­ful­ness, lethargy, panic at­tacks, in­creased sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to colds and ill­ness. Th­ese re­sponses to loss are nor­mal and do not last for­ever.”

DOES EV­ERY­ONE EX­PE­RI­ENCE GRIEF IN THE SAME WAY?

“No is the an­swer,” says Claire. “Grief is com­pletely unique to each in­di­vid­ual. Ev­ery­one grieves dif­fer­ently, even within one fam­ily or a cou­ple, a fact which can have an im­pact on re­la­tion­ships.

“There is no right way or wrong way to grieve, no set pat­tern and no set time­frame. Its symp­toms change as we learn to live with­out the per­son who has died. Some­times grief can be com­pli­cated due to his­tor­i­cal losses, dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ships with the de­ceased or the cir­cum­stances of the death, for ex­am­ple sud­den death, death af­ter a long ill­ness, sui­cide or mur­der.

“Mi­gra­tion and leav­ing be­hind our coun­try of ori­gin can also in­volve the losses of fam­ily and friends, his­tory and cul­tural her­itage and this can also im­pact on our griev­ing process.”

WHAT ARE THE COM­MON STAGES OF GRIEF?

“Much has been writ­ten about the stages or tasks of grief by re­searchers such as Elis­a­beth Kubler-Ross, Colin Mur­ray Parkes and J Wil­liam Wor­den,” says Claire. “They speak about how the loss of a loved one is of­ten fol­lowed by feel­ings of shock, de­nial and numb­ness which can move into an ac­cep­tance of the loss as we get back into life’s daily ac­tiv­i­ties such as work, so­cial cir­cles and meet­ing new peo­ple. Life grad­u­ally be­comes fuller and we are able to think fondly about our loved ones with­out be­com­ing over­whelmed by grief.”

HAVE YOU TIPS FOR SOME­ONE EX­PE­RI­ENC­ING GRIEF?

“When you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a be­reave­ment it is im­por­tant you look af­ter your­self and eat reg­u­larly,” says Claire. “Try to get out and take some phys­i­cal ex­er­cise if you can.

“Also, try to make space and time for your­self and to re­mem­ber your loved one. Plus, re­mem­ber griev­ing is ‘nor­mal’ – give your­self time as your grief will change.

“If you are strug­gling to cope with your feel­ings, seek fur­ther help. Talk to your GP or friends and fam­ily who could find as­sis­tance for you if needed.”

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