When Loss Strikes: What is Normal and When to Seek Help

by drlazarus on October 25, 2017

For better or worse, loss is a part of life. Not only is it inevitable, it is necessary—if nobody ever died, we would simply run out of room for new life to be born. However, this does not make the process any easier, especially when the loss is someone whom you love dearly. When does grief become something else, and when should you seek help? Read on to find out!

Immediate reaction

One of the best ways to think of immediate loss is of devastation. Whether you have lost a loved one unexpectedly or after months of declining health, the final realization that they are gone can be rough. It is normal to cry, feel sad, or even feel angry—at the person who is gone, at yourself, and at the whole world. Your emotions may feel overwhelming, and that’s okay. Allow yourself time to feel these emotions and seek the support of others in your life.

Signs you need help

While loss is difficult to bear, there are some signs that you should seek professional help. If you consider harming yourself or others, you should always call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest emergency room.

Short-term

For a few weeks or months following the loss, you can expect to still feel pain quite vividly. You may notice that your pain subsides somewhat, or that it “rears its head” with vengeance every now and again. Reminders of the person you have lost, such as their clothing, favorite TV show, or perfume may bring back vivid and unsettling memories. However, at this stage, you should be able to start recovering and moving on. Try thinking of the positive memories you have of this person and what they would want for you—chances are, they would encourage you to keep living your life!

Signs you need help

Immediately after a loss, it is perfectly normal to “shut down” for a few days. However, if weeks or months have passed and you still find yourself unable to go to work, maintain hygiene, or feel happiness or enjoyment, you should seek the help of a grief counselor in Littleton. Loss can take a huge toll on relationships as well. Your partner might not understand your grief, or why you’re so sad, and attending Littleton couples therapy sessions might help you to see eye to eye.

Long-term

After a few months, you may feel guilty that you do not think of your lost loved one that often. Don’t despair—this is a normal part of moving on. In addition, you may find yourself doing great most days, but receiving an occasional “blow” when something reminds you of your lost loved one. This, again, is perfectly normal. Holidays and anniversaries tend to be the hardest, but you can turn these moments of sadness into moments of celebration by honoring the lost person’s favorite activities and sharing them with others. The person you lost will always be a part of you.

Signs you need help

If you still feel the same intense pain as you did when you first realized your loved one was gone on a daily basis, or if you still feel limited in your work, social life, or personal life because of the loss, you may benefit from working with a therapist. While there is no “time limit” on grief, it is important to differentiate grief and loss from depression. In addition, working with a trained professional can help you to clarify your feelings and values and develop effective coping skills to keep yourself going.

While your loved one may be gone, you know he or she would never want you to get “stuck” as a result. Live your life to the fullest and give Dr. Lazarus a call if you’re feeling stuck!

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