Healthy ways to grieve multiple losses
Loss singular or multiple is never easy. While some people may have the opportunity to take their time to process the loss and accept it as a reality, others may not have similar experiences. It is a very common situation for people to face one loss or one death after another. Such an experience of facing another loss before one has recovered from the initial loss is scientifically known as “cumulative grief” and is perfectly demonstrated by the famous English idiom – “When it rains it pours.”
Multiple griefs may come in different forms
There exist multiple ways in which one might end up in the situation of cumulative grief:
- Circumstances of multiple deaths either within the family or amongst friends.
- Multiple losses due to separations within the family.
- Unfortunate incidents such as the loss of multiple family members in one accident.
- Certain simultaneous events such as a death in the family, divorce, loss of a job, may lead to overwhelming grief.
- Loss of a baby through miscarriage or having to give up a child for adoption.
Coping with cumulative grief
How can one cope with cumulative grief? This is a tough question that requires only one thing- time! While the personal experiences of many grievers may share common stages and processes, individually grief is different for all of us. No timeline, schedule or checklist works for everyone, only time can heal the grief of the losses.
In case you are in a similar situation or any of your loved ones are facing it, here are some crucial things to remember:
1. One must stay cautious as there is an increased possibility of going in denial of the series of losses
A person going through multiple griefs must be aware that such a situation possess unique challenges and can put you at a stage of complicated grief. Though acknowledging grief is mandatory, there is no need for excessive fear and more negative thoughts. One step at a time, and you will be able to heal with grief healthily. You have many options for help, so don’t be hesitant to reach out!
2. Be mindful of your emotions and body
The stress and emotional response caused due to the loss of a loved one may leave the body in shock and pain. The frequency and duration of such symptoms depend on how one deals with their emotions and the body’s reaction to them.
When one is mindful, one understands the process that takes place in both mind and body. This also includes paying attention to particular feelings and being aware of what is happening externally. This will allow you to label the strong emotions, and you will realize that the feelings are fleeting and will change with time.
3. Realize that you have to grieve each loss independently
Each relationship is unique and special in its own way. The bond and memories that we share with our best friend, mother, or uncle will have their own charm and essence which can be felt when we lose the same. To unravel all your emotions, each loss will have to be addressed individually. After then it will just be a matter of time and patience.
4. Talk to trusted loved ones
It is a common thing to go numb after experiencing multiple losses. You may find yourself isolating and distancing yourself from your loved ones. Know that when the grief is accumulated it is crucial to have a good support group from friends and family. Reach out to your trusted friend or family and share with them about this accumulated grief. They can support you through time which tends to bring about intense emotions and hurt.
Some people in your life may not know how to provide the right kind of support, and you must know that it is okay to set up boundaries.
5. Practice self-care at your own pace
Self-care is especially important for someone who is going through grief. While it looks different for everyone, you have to find the right practices that will allow you to relax and move towards healing.
Some of the mandatory activities include eating healthy, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and moving the body to stay fit.
Other relaxing activities to consider doing are spending time with family and friends, going out for a lunch, getting massages, creating art, journaling, meditating, and much more.
6. Join a support group
During such a delicate time, one may feel lonely and lost in their life. Realize that you don’t have to feel this way. There are many support groups with people going through similar experiences in life whose support can help you walk through the pain of loss.
These support groups meet up weekly and consist of discussions, video seminars, and personal reflection sessions.
7. Consider taking professional therapy
When it feels like the cumulated grief is getting too much to bear, one should consider seeking professional help. Many times we are don’t realize the true meaning of our emotions, and having someone to help navigate through the entire journey can be a blessing. Counsellors and therapists are highly trained professionals and can help you heal healthily.