It’s not easy for me to talk about coping with Grief and Loss because I lost my father to Brain cancer very recently and the pain is still fresh.
But I need to do this.
Even though Papa was diagnosed with a rare and fatal cancer, we were not prepared to see him suffer so much. His last days were filled with excruciating pain and he lost his ability to walk and talk. He would often suffer falls, hurting himself badly.
Whenever I saw him suffer, my helplessness and guilt were overpowering. Throughout his life, he had been a great Father, a caring Husband, and a dutiful Son. He loved reading and traveling, clicking pictures of nature, and learning about new gadgets and technology. To see him reduced to a stage where the smallest task was beyond him, was tough. Only his eyes conveyed his love and pain. And yet till his last breath, he kept assuring us that he was ok, communicating through his eyes.
For the past few years, our lives were centered around him, his appointments, his investigations, keeping track of his medicines, reading up about drugs, interventions, taking second opinions etc. My Mom insisted on being his sole care giver and we often worried about her too because this was a very consuming task. Once, he was gone, there was a big void in our lives. While he was around, we were glad for his presence, even if it was quickly being reduced to just a physical presence. His kind eyes would talk to us even when he could not.
Shock, Anger, Denial, Sadness … myriad emotions seized me when Dad passed away. I felt immense guilt. I started questioning my decisions , I asked myself whether I, with my medical background, did my best, or could I have done anything better to make him live longer or reduce his agony.
Coping with Grief and Loss
There is no right way to cope with grief and it can be difficult to know how to begin the healing process.
Here are some ways of coping with the grief of losing a loved one :
1. Acknowledging your Grief
Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. The first step in coping with grief is acknowledging the loss, which can be difficult to do when it happened suddenly and unexpectedly. However, knowing the signs of grief allows you to take action if necessary before the feelings become overwhelming.
Being the eldest child, I kept a strong façade , going on automatically with the rituals and meeting people , sending messages , accepting condolences. I did not acknowledge my loss , I did not let it sink in.
After about a week , I was home alone, taking a break from work and just happened to look at some old pictures of Him with us in happier times and it was then that the pain hit me hard like a blow to the chest.
I tried to stifle my sobs but I couldn’t. Suddenly I lost control and there was deluge of tears and pent up grief. I was rocking and howling in pain for hours. Cursing myself for not having cared enough. I beat myself up for not having done enough, for being alive and healthy when he died moaning in pain and anguish for no fault of his. It was my best friend who helped me at that point. She held me tight while I kept blabbering and crying, till I was tired and exhausted. Miraculously, the next day I woke feeling calmer. The pain was still there but I could bear it now.
2. Talking about Loss
We often don’t speak about Grief or the Loss of a loved one. People expect us to accept the loss and move on , but it can be very tough or even impossible without help. I did not talk about my loss in front of my Mother and younger siblings as I wanted to be their support and did not wish to look broken myself. Crying at home could upset my children. Moreover, I had to resume work sooner than I wished to and so there was no opportunity to talk about it grieve about my loss.
It may seem that talking about your loss makes you vulnerable but when you talk to someone who you trust and who cares about you, it can really help you heal.
3. Understanding Grief
There are many stages of grief and individuals will go through them at different paces. Grief is a natural reaction to a loss. One needs to experience and understand Grief to cope with grief and loss. Depression, anxiety, fear, sadness and anger are all normal reactions after you lose someone who was important to you.
Grief is often experienced in stages. Sometimes it affects you right away but at other times grief can also be gradual. You may not even know that it is grief that you are experiencing. With emotions running high, it’s easy to withdraw from the world around you – which is why understanding how to cope with grief can be so important.
As a medical professional, I know that the best way to cope with grief is to understand it. Sometimes knowing what you are feeling can help you to move forward with your life. It helps to ask yourself how and what you are feeling. Writing it down can give you a better understanding of your emotions.
Reflecting can also help you understand your emotional triggers leading to an outburst and how to better cope with it.
4.Focusing on Immediate problems
Sometimes the grief is compounded when the person who is no more with you was also helping you cope with daily living. In such cases, you not only need to cope with grief and loss but also with the problems arising from their absence. The problems could be financial or related to daily work – picking up kids, helping with house work etc. Seek help from friends and colleagues to help sort these out.
5. Self-care to Cope with Grief and loss
The grieving process can be long, slow and painful. But if you don’t find a healthy way to cope with grief and loss, it can be impossible to move on with your life. You may find yourself going through times of regret, sadness and helplessness. It’s important that you take care of yourself so you don’t feel overwhelmed and lose hope in the future.
For me, it just did not feel right to be able to sleep, eat and have a normal life. How could my life be normal when I had lost one of most precious persons in life. Life just did not seem worthy of living. I just did not feel worthy of being happy anymore.
Even if you don’t feel like it, involve yourselves in activities that you normally enjoy – a walk , listen to soothing music, go out for a cup of coffee. Grieving cannot bring them back and the living have to take care of the legacy of the departed. They loved you and taking care of yourself is something they would have wanted you to do. Grief can drain you, so take as much rest as your body needs.
Be kind to yourself when you are coping with Grief and loss. Do not berate yourself, guilt could consume you and affect the way you perceive reality.
Set small goals , taking one day at a time and find your purpose in life. That is the best way to cope with grief and loss of your loved one.
It is my sincere hope that this post helps you to deal with loss and helps you find peace and strength.
24 responses to “Coping with Grief and Loss”
You are a very brave person mam. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is absolutely unimaginable. However we can pacify ourselves thinking that the departed person is free from pain.please take care of yourself mam. You need to be braver for yourself and your family. Sending prayers, love and strength.
Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.
You are very brave and courageous and I truly admire you as a person and as someone who will go out of their way to help others as I have personally been the recipient of your kindness and compassion. I know no words can take away the pain and grief of losing Uncleji but I hope by each passing day you are able to let go of some of the sadness and finding some solace in all the beautiful memories that were created when Uncleji was alive. You are in my thought s and prayers 🙏
Thank you so much for your kind and soothing words.
Hi Preeti, I had lost my father due to gall bladder cancer before 12 years, I had faced same situation as u, I also eldest in my family, I can understand and can feel your situations.Everything you have wrote about Loss and Grief, thats very true. God will give you strength to come out from all grief and loss…..you are very strong
Thank you so much for your support.
Loosing parents is the biggest loss and I can understand the pain. It’s not at all easy to move on but we need to. You are strong person who will stand and make your father proud.
Losing parents is the biggest loss and I can understand the pain. It’s not at all easy to move on but we need to. You are a strong person who will stand and make your father proud.
Thank you so much for your kind words.
Even I wrote a post on grief a few months ago. I understand your pain very well. I have been there many times. I lost my husband suddenly, then my dad, and now my son and people were asking me to be strong. I listed out the things they should say in my blog.
I remember reading that post sadly we follow them only after undergoing the painful emotions.
I am so sorry for your loss. It must be really difficult to see your father go through so much pain. Losing your loved ones is not easy but we need to learn to cope with the grief and loss. Acknowledging and talking abot grief can help a lot! Take care and stay strong!
Thanks a lot Shilpa!
Sorry for your loss dear. I wish this blog was available when I lost my dad at the age of 11. It was so difficult to come to terms with it that I would have tears in my eyes everytime I saw a daddy-daughter dance/moment in someones life…
I can feel your pain when you lost your Dad at such a tender age. The feelings get triggered on the smallest things!
I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one especially a parent is the biggest loss for anyone. No one can understand the grief a person goes through during such a difficult time. Thank you for sharing the ways to cope with grief.
Thank you for the empathetic words.
We often try to distract ourselves while not adressing the grief that we are feeling. As you said acknowledging the grief is the first and the most important step
Loosing your loved once can never be easy. No words,no gesture can reduce the pain one goes through. I wish God gives you more and more power and strength to bear that loss. Take care dear.
It’s never easy to lose a parent and even more so when they’ve suffered in their last days. Please know that you did all you could and he knows that. He’s proud of you.
Thank you Varsh for your soothing words!
Sorry for your loss. But I could so well relate to the feeling here cause I lost my mom a while ago. The pointers discussed here sure are part of the process healing
Thank you Sindhu, I can now understand how you must have felt when you lost your Mother, sending love to you!
So sorry for your loss. Father daughter bond is the beautiful bond in the world. More power to you.