Does Grief Ever End

Does Grief Ever End?

Grief is one of the most painful experiences a human being can endure. But, inevitably, we all experience loss in our lives. I have heard some describe grief as “falling into a black pit”, or as “falling off a diving board into darkness, not knowing if there will ever be an end to the fall”. Others feel that their pain will never end. They wonder if they can survive it, and if they will ever be the same. The mental anguish of grief can go beyond what words can express.

Symptoms of grief includes: chronic thoughts of a lost loved one, dreams or nightmares surrounding the loss, feelings of guilt, abandonment, fear, shock, deep loss that is so intense that it may cause physical pain , fatigue, changes in sleep patterns, appetite changes, and loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. These feelings can lead to obsessive, or “if only” thoughts. People are likely to feel angry -- angry about the loss or irrationally angry for no apparent reason. It can involve a desire to isolate socially; or the opposite – it can create a sense of needing to always be with someone else to avoid being alone. Even simple decisions can be hard to make. The person may find themselves feeling debilitated and wonder if they will ever function as before.

Grief can be a difficult obstacle to overcome. So what can a person do? Understanding some of the elements to managing grief can be helpful. First, know that grief is a process. It’s important to feel and express feelings as they come, to allow the process to occur. Journaling can be extremely valuable at this time. It is especially profound to journal in the form of writing letters to others (that are not actually sent). For example letters to the lost loved one, letters to God, or letters to whomever there is anger.

Secondly, know that there is no “normal” way to grieve. Each person’s experience with grief is unique. To feel that ‘ no one else has ever felt like this’ is absolutely right! Thirdly, there is no standard for how long grief takes, or a ‘right way’ to deal with it. Grief can take a long time! Lastly, know that grief is patient – it’s still there waiting even when a person tries to avoid it. Doing the work of grieving is vital to brighter tomorrows in life. Avoidance through drugs, alcohol, and other self-deprecating behavior , only leads to more grief and pain. For those who have tried this….it’s not too late!

It’s important to seek support! Different people find support in different ways – maybe talking to a trusted friend or confidante can help. Perhaps joining a grief group – through physical attendance or an online group could help - connecting with others who are also on a similar journey. reading books on grief can also help.

It can also be important to focus on taking good physical care of oneself. Grief is hard on the body so good nutrition is important and can be helpful. Finding a pleasant exercise and fresh air - even when the person doesn’t feel like it will help the body through this stressful time. Drinking plenty of water and getting structured sleep are all part of good self care. (One option for self care could involve scheduling an appointment with a healthcare provider) Having patience and grace for oneself is vital. These are all options that a person can do for themselves. Additionally, seeking psychotherapy services from a professional knowledgable in the grief process can provide much needed support, guidance and reassurance through this time of mourning. I provide supportive therapy to help people move through the grief in a more manageable way.

In addition to counseling, other resources include:
Your local hospice or hospital may offer grief support groups
Camp Erin through Providence Health & Services of King County (support for kids and teens)