How to identify and deal with grief

If you or a loved one has lost someone dear this year, read on to know how to find comfort amid upbeat music, Diwali parties and family celebrations.

Myupchar October 25, 2019 18:34:40 IST
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How to identify and deal with grief
  • The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance

  • Grief is a feeling of extreme sorrow and emotional pain that often arises due to a traumatic incident in one's life

  • If you know someone who has suffered a loss recently, reach out and offer some support during this tough time

Diwali is a time for family get-togethers and fun. However, for people who have recently lost a loved one, it can be a reminder of their loss.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg famously talked about coping with grief during the holidays after her husband Dave Goldberg passed away in 2015.

How to identify and deal with grief

Representational image. AFP.

Much has been said about grief in recent years. Experts have weighed in on whether it is a disease or an emotion. If you or a loved one has lost someone dear this year, read on to know how to find comfort amid upbeat music, Diwali parties and family celebrations.

Stages of grief

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, was the first one to start the debate around grief with her book On Death And Dying. She also introduced the five stages of grief that have since become very popular and adapted to other situations as well. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Grief is a feeling of extreme sorrow and emotional pain that often arises due to a traumatic incident in one's life. This grief usually fades with time and the person goes back to how they were before the incident or loss eventually. 

Signs of grief

Grief can manifest in many ways due to its nature. Different people feel different emotions. Common feelings that accompany grief include extreme sadness, numbness, anger, loss of appetite, loss of self-esteem and confidence. Some can be seen crying alone and others might lose interest in socialising. Studies show that, especially in the elderly, grief can have physical symptoms like lower immunity, aggravation of physical pain and even increased risk of a heart attack. It can also lead to other mental disorders like depression and anxiety. 

Causes of grief 

This sorrow or grief usually starts due to traumatic incidences. One of the most common causes of grief disorder is the loss of a loved one. Most people find it difficult to cope and move on in such cases. Other situations in life can also lead to grief disorder. Author Darcy L. Harris in his upcoming book Non-death loss and grief discusses other circumstances that can lead to grief disorders. Some of this include:

  • Divorce from a partner or separation from a loved one
  • Change in the workplace or retirement
  • Loss of good health due to accident or serious medical issue
  • Miscarriage or infertility
  • Moving away from family and friends

Dealing with grief

Diwali is a busy season for everyone - signs of grief can get ignored. If you know someone who has suffered a loss recently, reach out and offer some support during this tough time.

A study published by the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in Nov 2017 said that one may overcome acute grief disorder by making some small changes in their lifestyle: 

  • Try yoga and meditation every day to relax your mind.
  • While grieving, your mind may demand more sugar but you should try to eat clean and healthy food.
  • Get eight hours of sleep. In case you are having difficulty sleeping, avoid caffeine at night.
  • Talk to your loved ones. Sharing your feelings with people will help.
  • Engage yourself in different activities and avoid situations that remind you of your loss.           

Usually, this grief fades with time and all that's left are happy memories of the people who have passed on. Sometimes, though, the grief stays on. This is clinically termed as prolonged grief disorder, something we rarely hear about. It’s best to seek medical attention in such situations and follow an expert’s advice.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please see our section on Mental Illness.

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