Coping with grief: Ways to deal with trauma of losing a loved one
- People who have witnessed sudden loss of their loved ones could suffer from disturbed sleep patterns, constant nightmares, fatigue, and exhaustion.
Covid-19 has brought a huge change in the lives of people. The hardest hit amongst the same are the individuals who have suffered the wrath of the virus either on themselves or on other people. The effect of virus not only led to physical deterioration, but also impacted the psychological and emotional health of people, as they witnessed the sudden loss of their loved ones leading to an immediate change in their environment.
This sudden change often leads to trauma, which is an emotional response to a terrible and unwanted event taking place in an individual’s life. The emotional response of the trauma can be manifested in various ways, which impacts the individual holistically.
The physical symptoms include disturbed sleep patterns, constant nightmares, fatigue, and exhaustion. The behavioural symptoms include excessive alertness, withdrawing from social gatherings, harming oneself, crying excessively, avoidance, or alcohol and substance abuse. The emotional symptoms include sadness; guilt or shame, blaming oneself for the loss, memories of the traumatic event and intrusive thoughts.
Healing from trauma does not mean that one needs to supress their emotions, but it means that an individual has processed their emotions which made them accept the reality, and thereafter they have come out of the traumatic situation. The acceptance does not come easily, and an individual goes through a grief cycle in which the five stage model, starting from denial (where the individual does not accept the loss), anger (onto self, as they couldn’t save their loved ones or to others) , bargaining (requesting the higher power to return the person) depression (constant sadness and worrisome behaviour) and ending acceptance (accepting the loss).
Tips and techniques to deal with the trauma:
1. Getting in touch with yourselves: It becomes important that you are getting in touch with your feelings and emotions, and understand the reasons behind them, as it will help you get a realization about the same, and the probable causes.
2. Share your feelings: Fighting your battle all by yourself is not an easy thing, it is important that you share your feelings, inhibitions with your loves ones so that you can vent them out, rather than waging a silent battle with yourself.
3. Develop or engage in new hobbies: Developing a new hobby or pursuing older ones can help and your mind be engaged in something that you like and will help you to distract yourself from the difficult emotions.
4. Make a routine: Being at home has disturbed routines for many of us, which probably also causes difficulty. You can create your own routine, and start following the same, and will also help you to look up at something throughout the day.
5. Self-Care: Engage in selfcare which not only involves pampering yourself, but also getting in touch about your feelings throughout the day and develop a self-help toolbox that involves the things you love the most like a music list, or reading your favorite book, watching a series, or just having a walk in an open area.
6. Seek professional help: At last, if any of the above things are not helping you, you can consult a professional.
Give yourself a space to heal from the trauma. It can be difficult accepting the reality and bear the loss of the loved one. The above steps could assist you in dealing with the emotional turmoil.
(Prachi Kohli is Counselling Psychologist at Kaleidoscope - a unit of Dr. Bakshi’s Healthcare, views expressed in the column are author's own)