Dealing with grief | Northglen News

HUMAN beings are social beings – we interact with different people in our lives and form attachments and relationships. It is also part of life that we lose those people we have formed relationships with, whether in the form of death, breakup and/or distance. In this series of Mental Health Matters, we’re going to focus on grief: defining grief, the stages of grief, and how to deal with this event in one’s life. It is also important to emphasize that grief is not just about loss.

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Society has reached new heights in recognizing mental health issues, and resources have been made available to help people struggling with different challenges. We gathered information from various online support groups to provide insight into our grief topic.

The Mayo Clinic describes grief as a natural reaction to loss that is a universal or personal experience. “Individual grief experiences vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, loss of employment, loss through theft, or loss of independence due to disability.

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“Symptoms of bereavement can be: feeling numb and withdrawn from everyday life or unable to carry on with regular tasks while being overwhelmed by feelings of loss,” they add.

Although grief is a personal experience, you can identify it, or better yet, diagnose it using the symptoms or stages. Maman Brigitte Lehoux briefly takes us through the five stages of grief, which are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial is the normal reaction our body uses as a defense mechanism that cushions the immediate shock of loss. This is followed by anger as the pain of loss begins to set in, and it can be directed at others, yourself, or life. Negotiation is about trying to minimize or postpone your sadness by creating scenarios. “You can also feel guilty or responsible, which leads you to negotiate,” she said.

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Depression is the awareness of reality and the true extent of the loss. “As the loss seems more present and inevitable, you feel depressed. Intense sadness usually overshadows all areas of life.

The final stage is acceptance where the pain resides, and you can envision your life with the new reality.

According to the Mayo Clinic, grieving people are advised to realize that they cannot control the process and to prepare for the different stages of grieving. “Understanding why you are hurting can help, as can talking to others and trying to resolve issues that are causing significant emotional pain.”

There are different groups that people can join to share their grief in an effort to heal and come to terms with their loss. South Africa is home to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, a 24-hour helpline for people struggling with mental health issues. The number is 0800 456 789. Help is also available on their website:

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