How to cope with grief and loss

As we go through life, we lose many things. We lose friends, relatives, parents, looks, youth, wealth, health, jobs, reputation, possibilities, opportunities, love and at the end of it all, life itself. There is just a translucent veil that separates the peaceful, unaffected life from the one that goes suddenly wrong. In any given second the veil tears down with the sudden gush of crisis and pull us inside the murkiness of sudden grief.

Of course most of us never think about this, because if we did, we would never plan or dream; in fact we would never get out of bed.

However, when grief strikes we get sucked into its hollow pit, but we must remember that grief is an emotion that requires the application of deep and insightful imagination to resolve that period of mourning, which is essential to come to terms with these losses. Because by being trapped in “negative grieving,” we are subconsciously “choosing” to keep our heart broken. It is often advised that if we find ourselves stuck in the grieving process and not moving forward through it, we must look for how we can find happiness in everyday things. Keep our focus on doing things that make us feel calmer.

Many people confess that grief feels like fear. The fear of everything coming to a cessation. The fear of you standing on the precipice, looking down at a dark dungeon of nothingness. It feels as if life itself has come to a stop and nothing will ever be the same again.

A friend of mine, Simon Webb, is the social media manager for the UK based company He runs and oversees their social media presence and sees people from all walks of life due to the nature of the business he’s in.

Having dealt with grief himself, we chatted the other day about it and he gave me this insight – he is both European and Asian through descent.

“Different cultures have different rituals for expressing grief and going through periods of mourning. Europeans are more reserved and prefer to keep their grief private. On the flipside – In most Asian countries, grief is expressed through loud weeping.”

Having Simon give me this insight, I then went on to discover that in Mediterranean cultures, wailing in public is an important part of grief and in ancient China people were expected to mourn the death of their parents for 39 months. They were compelled to retire from public life and were expected to go and live quietly in some countryside during this period.

Also in India, group wailing is often observed, when all the relatives and friends gather together to cry, and express the pain loudly when struck by tragedy such as death of a close relative or family. In the villages of Rajasthan (India) when an important person dies they call a troupe of wailing women to express grief at the time of funeral. These wailing women are professional mourners called Rudali. These Rudalis are paid to weep, shed tears, beat their chest, bang their heads and keep crying until a certain period. It is basically done when a rich man dies, to express the loss in a huge way and to showcase how important and wealthy he is.

Imagination training

Imagination training is another method of coping with grief. Imagination training during grief helps us to know that we may be physically or perhaps financially diminished, but the loss and grieving is going to make us emotionally powerful and maybe spiritually enriched.

It also helps to imagine grief as a dark tunnel through which we have to pass, in order to see the sun drenched path again.

However, we are faced with three choices at the entrance of that tunnel:

  • Denying that the loss has occurred.
  • Acknowledging the loss but denying its impact. Not giving in to grief, not inclined to move on.
  • Accepting the loss and working through the period of mourning to reach a healing solution.

If we opt for the third choice, we enter the tunnel. Just remember that the tunnel will be very dark, very black. But there is bound to be a glimmer of light somewhere. While passing that tunnel, the bleakness, the misery and the acute fearfulness will dissipate eventually, leaving you with essential relief.

Like fear, other feelings associated with grief are shock, anger, loneliness, numbness, disbelief and guilt. When any kind of loss occurs, the initial reaction is often a sense of unreality. Phrases like, “I just don’t believe this has happened.” “This feels like a nightmare.” “It must be a mistake.” All these sentences denote confusion and disbelief. There are chances of vacillating or having ambivalent emotions during the period of grieving. One moment a person would stay calm and next they would be crying their heart out. But healing comes after going through various stages of grief.

These stages are denial, anger, depression, resignation and finally acceptance.

Different kinds of losses take different time period depending upon the gravity of loss but in every case, working through grief is like going on a journey.

The journey that might be full of troubled stopovers, but most definitely takes you to calmer roads.

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