There are 55.3 million people that pass away each year. That’s a hard thing to hear, but it stands as evidence that losing a loved one is not something that has to be dealt with in solitude. You’re not alone in your loss for someone you care for. The use of present-tense “care” is intentional here; just because someone has moved on from this life doesn’t mean you stop caring for them. Still, there’s a sadness and void that can be difficult to handle. Depression, anger, and bouts of anxiety are common, but there can be much more to overcome.
Effects on the Mind
Following the loss of a loved one, particularly if they were a partner/spouse, you’ll be faced with a number of changes, and not just to your environment or structure of your life. Your mental state is also bound to be affected. Everyone is different; some may feel anger, while others feel nothing at all, akin to being “numb”, as they simply shut down as a means of coping. Some of the more common mental effects include confusion, anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, anger, and general depression. In more complex cases, people can even experience auditory or visual hallucinations of their lost loved one, as well as frightening or bizarre dreams.
Effects on the Body
Mind and body go hand-in-hand, and oftentimes as a result of mental duress, people experiencing grief will face physical symptoms as well. In other words, changes in the mind can lead to certain changes in the body. Things like insomnia, poor appetite (or over eating in some cases can be a coping mechanism), tightening in the chest/throat, and severe restlessness are most frequently experienced. Physical manifestations, just as the mental components, can be acute or chronic, lasting anywhere from days to years.
The First Step to Healing
As mentioned, physical symptoms of grief are typically the result of mental effects that take root. Coping with your loss and addressing the mental aspect of things will subsequently apply to the physical as well. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and everyone will have a different experience. The constant is the grieving process itself; it’s ok, and necessary, to acknowledge your loss, and to mourn. Before any healing can begin, the pain must first be recognized and accepted. Talk about your loved one, and share how you feel, instead of locking things away to avoid hurting. Reach out to others for support, or simply surround yourself with your family, friends, or others that relate to your struggle. You’re never alone in the world, or alone in your feelings.
Losing someone close to you is the hardest thing in life we must face. You’ll never stop missing someone you love that is absent from your life. Thinking of them will, however, someday bring about more happy memories than sadness, and that’s what healing really means. We have to accept the difficulties in life; what is happiness without having known sadness? Let loss be a reminder of the precious things in life, and the preciousness of life itself.