This is part 4 of the Coping
with Loss paper. Previous parts have been published earlier this
month in this same blog.
Before continuing with the fourth stage, I want to deal with some other perspectives on mourning first, as they come into play already in the first three stages.
The previous sections have mainly dealt with how you personally dealt with your loss from an emotional and mental point of view. The first period after your loss will be filled with that personal way of dealing with it from inside, but there are some other perspectives that may need to be taken into account as well. Those will be described in this section.
For starters, apart from the emotions and thoughts inside you, there are also physical effects of mourning. The stress you have to go through has necessarily effects on the body. These effects can be various things:
A general numb feeling
Your appetite may be affected, either by not being able to eat much anymore or by wanting to eat much more than usual
Mourning can leads to your feeling tired as you need a lot of energy dealing with the emotions
Sexuality may be affected during a period of mourning: it may decrease if the need disappears, but may also increase if there is a need for more intimacy.
Whatever happens to you, just recognise the effects and don’t worry about them. Only when they last a very long time, it may be wise looking for professional help.
Then there are the other people around you. People who are mourning may feel as if they are dealing with it all on their own. However, there are other people in your environment as well who can support you in practical ways, who can be with you, who can listen to you or help in any other way. You are not alone in this world, so ask for help if you need it – some people will offer their help themselves as well. Set your own limits in how you want to have contact with other people in this period, though – be aware of what feels good for you and kindly send them away of you don’t feel up to it. Sharing feelings with other people may be a huge relief and help to deal with those feelings.
The negative side of dealing with others is, that people are not accustomed to dealing with others that have lost someone. They may seem to avoid you under the pretext that it is best to leave you alone with your feelings. Or they come across clumsy in their fear of being confronted with your loss and your feelings, talking only about themselves or making empty remarks. This can be hurtful for you or you may get disappointed in them, but also realise that dealing with death is not an everyday thing and that some people simply have no clue how to do confront people who are mourning. This is nothing to do with intelligence, but is an entirely different aspect of people’s development.
Do notice the little gems of contact with people that you don’t expect it from, though. Sometimes support comes from an unexpected direction and in unexpected ways. Try to be open for it.
An other aspect that is to do with the role of the people around you is whether you can show your emotions or not. In the western societies, this is often not easy, as western people usually suppress emotions rather than show them. Deal with this in your own way, without being bothered about what other people may think of you. Emotions should be expressed, so do so if you feel the need for it, wherever you are. Let other people deal with how they feel about your showing your emotions.
Lastly, there are facilities in society that may help you deal with loss. If you feel you cannot deal with mourning yourself or in communication with others, look for professionals to help you with it. Signs that you may want to do so can be the following:
If your physical health turns bad without there being a medical reason for it
If your psychological health turns bad, like when you are depressed for a long period
If you feel you cannot take care of yourself anymore
If after a long period you still feel you cannot accept the loss
There are many specialised organisations that assist people go through one of the most difficult aspects of life and they will be happy to help you. These are both organisations that do this from a religious or other philosophical perspective, but also totally neutral groups. Counselers and other therapists are open to deal with people who go through this process and sometimes even specialise in it. Choose the one that fits your needs – the Internet is full of them.