When you are faced with an intense trauma such as the death of someone you love, you may not be ready to completely feel all the emotions that loss brings. Or maybe, you are someone who has gone through life repressing most emotional pains that you have experienced because you are afraid to process your emotions.
Repressing these overwhelming emotions and keeping yourself numb instead of grieving and mourning is a common response to losing a loved one, but definitely not the healthiest. This is what delayed grief is – repression of emotional pain that results from a traumatic experience. In other words, you don’t fully experience your grief until later on.
These repressed emotions will likely surface later on, which can lead to mental and emotional breakdowns. Even if they don’t surface and you don’t deal with them directly, they have a significant psychological impact on you and influence your thought patterns and behavior, even when you don’t realize it.
What does delayed grief feel and look like?
If you are experiencing delayed grief, you may show several emotional, mental, as well as physical symptoms later than expected. You may feel completely numb and detached, and you may feel more moody or anxious than usual. This will obviously affect your day-to-day life. Your personal relationships and work may suffer.
People experiencing delayed grief also tend to have headaches, body aches and pains, disrupted sleeping patterns, and loss in appetite.
What to do if you are experiencing delayed grief?
It is important to know that people react to loss in different ways, and there is no normal or accepted way to grieve. If you suspect that you are dealing with delayed grief, make sure that you are putting in extra effort to look after your health. It can be easy to slip into unhealthy coping mechanisms that can affect both your mental and physical health, so focus on self-care.
Also, make a conscious effort to stay connected to the people you love like your friends and family, and know that you don’t have to be isolated. There is no shame in reaching out for help.
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The coronavirus may have brought the entire world to a halt, but nothing can hit pause on loss and grieving. If you have lost a dear one during this global pandemic, wrapping your head around it and coming to terms with your loss may be difficult. Here are some important things to remember while you are grieving:
Losing a loved one is painful as it is, but when it happens during a pandemic while almost the whole world is in lockdown, it can be an even heavier weight. Grieving when you have to practice social distancing is difficult for anyone, which is why reaching out to others via phone calls, text messages, video calls, etc. is so important. Make use of the communication tools available to remind yourself that you are not alone.
With social restrictions in place, you may not be able to attend the funeral of your loved one, or the funeral may have been postponed. Don’t let these restrictions, which are completely out of your control, result in guilty feelings. Believe that you are doing as best as you can during this difficult time. You don’t need the additional weight of guilt on top of the grief that you are experiencing.
Maybe you are not grieving the way you thought you would. Maybe you are experiencing disbelief and shock, or maybe you are extremely sad. Perhaps, you are angry, or you feel numb. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, especially at a time like this, when our mental health is not at its best. You might not grieve the same way you would have under normal circumstances, so be patient with yourself.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty about funerals and events commemorating the passing away of a loved one. While funerals have always been a chance for your immediate community to gather in unison and pay their respects to the deceased, such gatherings are no longer permissible or desirable during a pandemic. Yet, the dead need to be seen off ritualistically, and families will hold funerals for their dead either way, even if these events must be held privately, even for those who have died due to the virus.
Guidelines recently announced by healthcare advisories have instructed that only a limited number of individuals may have access to the dead body of a person who has died from the novel Coronavirus. It is because, like all surface areas, even those who died of COVID-19 can carry the virus. Those in contact with such a corpse remain at risk of contracting the virus through exposure.
Since the dead body of the infected person carries with it the virus for hours, it is recommended that this dead body be disposed of as quickly as possible. The family members of the deceased can choose whether they’d like to have it cremated or buried. Either way, they are recommended to take care of these death rituals as soon as they are able. Storage in extremely cold conditions such as under 50 degrees F might be able to stave off decomposition.
However, if the body is allowed to decompose, exposure from the virus contained will maximize. Individuals tasked with handling the dead body need to be extremely careful. If funerals are to be held publicly, they should, at no point, defy the rules laid out for social distancing. Also, these individuals should keep themselves safe from the risk of infection by wearing PPE or personal protective equipment like face masks and gloves.
The funeral handlers should also wear long-sleeved water-resistant gowns that they can later dispose, to keep themselves protected against contamination via contact with the dead person’s bodily fluids.
These times require abnormal procedures.
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Death is one of the most effective and eye-opening teachers of life and what is important to us as human beings. The death of a loved one can be heartbreaking, but it also teaches you so many lessons in life you would have never have learned otherwise.
Let’s take a look at some of these lessons:
The truth that lies in this old saying shines brightest when a loved one is lost. It can be difficult, and often times, you will feel like the world doesn't make sense anymore. But after you have grieved, you start to realize that day by day, the pain of losing someone you love and care about hurts a little less. Even if the most painful of experiences can be healed by time, it must be true that all other wounds can be healed too.
We were not meant to be on this earth forever. As humans, our time here is limited, and none of us know when we will leave, so now is all that we have. It's easy to lose sight of this amidst all the daily worries we have, but death puts things into perspective.
Another important lesson death teaches us is that every day that you wake up feeling healthy and alive is a new day to give yourself another chance. You might not have tomorrow, so why not forgive yourself and try again today at something you may have failed to achieve?
Losing a loved one may be one of our darkest times, but it is also when all the love and support we have from our friends and family shine the brightest. This is a reminder that we are not alone in our struggles.
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Grieving the loss of a loved one is a difficult experience, and sometimes, it feels like you probably won’t stop grieving. The pain and sadness seem like it’s not going to end anytime soon, and sometimes, it feels like no one understands you.
The process of grieving can be slow and agonizing, but be assured it gets better over time. You may have lost a loved one recently, and if you are wondering whether you are taking steps forward in your grieving process, here are some signs that you are healing from your grief:
When you have lost someone you care about, it can be difficult to accept their death. You hold on to their memories and the times you spent with them, and have no desire to move on. But once you accept the finality of their death and truly know that they are not returning, it means that you have taken one of the first steps towards healing.
While grieving, it can be difficult to spend time by yourself or be alone with your thoughts. Often, this makes people sadder as it gives them more opportunities to wallow in their sorrows. If you notice that you are comfortable being alone and you don’t show signs of intense grieving when alone, such as breaking down and crying, it’s a great sign that you are slowly, but surely, moving forward.
Sometimes, when you grieve, you may find it difficult to reach out to others for help or form any sort of connection. However, if you are healing, you may find it easier to connect with people again, ask for help when you need it, and maybe even offer help to those who are going through a similar experience.
When you are healing, you often learn to enjoy hobbies or other activities that you used to enjoy but gave up because of your experience. You may even find new interests.
Thanks for reading,