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The Right Way to Grieve

First off, there really isn’t a “right” way to grieve. Everyone is different and therefore everyone moves through the stages of grief at a different pace. Losing someone you love in San Mateo and elsewhere is never easy. Thankfully, bereavement services such as support groups and counseling can help you push through in a healthy way.

Healthy expressions of grief are important, but there is no rule book that says how you have to progress through it. You may feel lost right now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We can help you find it.

One-Size-Fits-All: It Doesn’t Exist When it Comes to Grief

Grief is not a cookie cutter process. It varies by person and circumstance. Sure, we would like to have a clear path all laid out for us. It would bring us comfort in times of emotional pain. Some have even attempted to fit grief into neat little boxes. Take the five stages of grief, for example, set forth by Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross, a Swiss American psychiatrist. She outlines all the stages in her famous book called “On Death and Dying,” written in 1969. Many people have used it as a template, or guidebook if you will, for navigating the process of grief, but it shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Some go through them in this order, while others jump around, says PsychCentral. They are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

How much time you spend in each stage will be unique to you. It may take one person a couple of weeks to hit every stage, while it may take a couple of years for another, with the steps taken out of order. Keep in mind, it should be used as a reference, not a rule.

Grief: A Personal Experience

It’s a fact that everyone grieves at some time or another. But we don’t all do it in quite the same way. We all handle emotions differently, often influenced by our lifestyle, culture, socio-economic status, relationships, jobs, and life experiences. Everyone’s reaction is truly unique, which means grief is extremely personal.

However, there are some basic patterns that come with loss, such as frustration, sadness, anger, guilt, and regret. But don’t set yourself up for confusion, guilt, and pain as you try to adhere to all five stages of grief. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong if you skip around. Take this time to embrace your individual experience and let it take you on your own unique path. This is how you heal. The American Psychological Association says most people recover from loss on their own with the passage of time, provided they get adequate social support and practice healthy life habits. This includes self-care, such as eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep to preserve physical and emotional health. Because the grieving process takes a big toll on your body, you have to take care of that body.

“Get Over It”

If you’ve ever lost someone you love, you may have heard those words from well-meaning family and friends. It’s understandable. They don’t want to see you in lingering pain, so once an appropriate amount of time has gone by, you may start hearing things like “it’s time to move on” or “you need to get over it.” But as you’re painfully aware, you can’t just snap out of it. Grief doesn’t end in one week, one month, or one year. Sometimes it never ends. Indeed, it’s a lifelong process of learning how to live with that grief. It’s just that some people seem to move on more quickly than other people. And that’s OK. But just remember you don’t know that person’s story and cannot even begin to understand where they’re at in their journey. With no set timetables for grief, it can feel even more confusing for everyone involved.

In fact, after loss, it’s quite possible to never feel the same way as you did before. That strong connection and bond that you have forged with your deceased loved one is still there. Just because they’re gone, doesn’t mean you can magically forget your feelings. Most people are resilient when it comes to loss, but for many others, grief can be disabling. You’ve likely heard of “closure” after loss, but grief can’t be equated to a door slamming shut so you can move into the next room. Tragedy, trauma, and loss are emotions that will be with you forever, and closure certainly can’t be forced.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We offer many helpful bereavement services in San Mateo and elsewhere, including support groups and one-on-one counseling, so please get in touch with us at 888-978-1306 to learn more. You may benefit from speaking with a licensed mental health professional who specializes in grief.