Losing someone or something that really matters to you is never easy. Whether it is the death of a loved one, a breakup, or even a failed business venture, you cannot simply ignore the pain, especially when you’ve invested so much time and emotion. Grieving is a unique process. For everyone, it is indeed painful, but no two people experience it the same way. We’re talking about unique memories with a lost loved one and a certain feeling of guilt when we decide to move on.
When you grieve, is it right to think about moving on? Or is it better to say that you have to move forward? How do you cope? How do you “deal with it”? These are just some of the questions that this article will cover.
The Science of Grief
When you lose someone you love, it’s usually called being “heartbroken.” But while you do sometimes feel a pang in your chest when you grieve, is it just your heart that’s in a poor state? Let’s get down to the science of it: grieving actually affects the brain, which controls the rest of the body—your heart included. Losing someone you love can make you feel numb, depressed, and confused. But hey, getting through the cycle of grief is healthy. Grieving helps you acknowledge your loss and begin to move alongside it as time goes by.
There are two layers of grief: the sudden primary pain of the loss and the following days afterward as you mourn. Losing someone important acts as a stressor that triggers the pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropic (ACTH). ACTH delivers a stimulus to the adrenal gland to unleash a stress hormone called cortisol. Grief is an intense and provoking stressor making your body filled with cortisol that falters your immune system. This is why you might feel run down and sick after losing someone you love.
It happens to the best of us—in fact, even when the demise has been long predicted, you can still feel a shock deep down your core. A traumatized brain is bottom-heavy which means that its sensitive areas, such as the fear center, can overreact, and it adds feelings of anguish and stress. Higher cortical regions of the brain are underactive, like the anterior cingulate cortex, which regulates emotion. You might also find it challenging to ignore minor distractions or experience symptoms like a higher heart rate for a few minutes after the shock.
Over time, the initial feeling of loss typically gives way to a profound level of loneliness or depression as you continue to grieve. Depression can cause massive changes around certain parts of the brain, most especially the amygdala and hippocampus. The amygdala is responsible for sleep behavior, while the hippocampus processes memory and regulates stress hormones. The changes brought by grief disrupt the core functions of our mind and body, which could lead to a drastic shift in lifestyle.
Grieving makes it harder for you to rest and sleep. Being trapped in a brain fog could make you forget things. It’s helpful to remind yourself that the pain doesn't last for the rest of your life. Eventually, the sadness and loneliness will fade away, possibly replaced by feelings of rage, guilt as you move forward little by little toward acceptance. According to a study conducted by the University of California, long-term grief activates neurons. These neurons are active in the reward centers of the brain, and grief is possibly providing the neurons addiction-like properties.
Dealing with Grief
Such a strong emotion comes when we lose someone or something valuable to us—people who have been part of our daily lives, the whole routine. The feeling of grief is always synonymous with someone who has passed on. However, you can also feel it when you are in a failing relationship, a business on the verge of bankruptcy, failing a course, or losing something you deem valuable in your life.
One day, you will have to witness someone you love go, and you’ll need to start another chapter into the unknown without them. Here are the things that you can consider when grief comes to visit.
Cry until you cannot shed a single tear anymore.
The best way to express joy is through a smile or laughter. When you are in love, you can hug your special someone. Grief, on the other hand, is never complete without a frown or a good cry. Remember, it is okay to cry your heart out when you lose someone you love. If you are a man, don't let masculinity eat you. Cry, and you will feel a lot better.
One day, you will just find yourself tired of crying, unable to shed even a single tear. Always remember that crying is a healthy thing to do, and there is nothing wrong with it. It is the best way to embrace your feeling of loss and wash away the agony that’s been eating at you. Allow yourself to cry in order to get past it. In the long run, suffering gives you strength, and you become a survivor and not a victim.
Be ANGRY—that is normal!
We all know that we’re living on borrowed time, and we’re going to eventually lose people we love. Still, nothing can prepare us for when that dreaded time arrives. Sometimes, in our denial, we continue to live in the moment and tend to take our loved ones for granted. As humans, we are capable of being selfish—so selfish that we don't want to be sad, and life should always be happy on our end.
Being an adult doesn't mean that you are too old to build your fairy tale and concept of a happy-ever-after. When your fairy tale crumbles and gets taken away from you, anger comes forward and infiltrates your whole system. It is okay to be angry. The hatred and remorse you have inside as you grieve show that you are a real person acknowledging your limitations. Don't worry because that anger
Move forward slowly but surely.
It is easy to say “move on” to someone grieving. Moving on depends on the situation; it happens at one’s unique pace. Saying "move on" to someone mourning for a loved one who died is an insensitive suggestion. When a person matters so much to you, forgetting that person can feel like a crime.
When this special person meets an untimely death, you want to remember and honor this person for the rest of your life, and moving on may not be the best way to do it. Instead, you need to move forward. You will never forget the person you love, especially during special occasions or when you see something related to this person. Move forward, and don't be in a hurry because it might hurt you in the process.
Let the healing of moving forward come to you gradually until you are ready to acknowledge the loss. Continue to remind yourself that emotions come and go.
Refocus your grief.
Grieving is not 24/7, and you have to try to refocus your mind and emotion. You can watch movies or read books. One of the best things that you can do is to exercise. Aerobics can improve your memory, thought processing, and mood.
For sure, you also have to continue living your life. Revisit your goals and do something to turn them into reality. If you have children, refocus your energy on protecting them and helping them cope with the loss, just as you are doing. Acknowledge the loss but don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to begin again.
Just don't hide in the dark for too long because it will consume you negatively. Try to reconcile with your loss and forgive yourself too.
Talk to someone.
Another insensitive remark you can offer a grieving person is to “stop talking about it.” Losing a significant person in your life can be traumatic. If you feel this way, do not hesitate to consult a therapist or be a part of bereavement meetings to improve your situation. Redirect your negative thoughts—talking to your friends can be a source of great comfort too. Sharing your story can create more love and inspiration for other people.
If you don't want to talk to people, you can share some quality time with your pets—maybe even voice out your feelings to them. You can also express your feelings through arts and crafts like drawing, writing a journal, and the like. Don't keep things to yourself, especially feelings of anger, hatred, and loss. Share them with the most willing person to listen. Confining your negative emotions inside you consumes so much energy, which can drain you for a long time.
Hold on to your faith and keep on walking.
Grieving is a dark space and once you find yourself in the valley of the shadow of death, just keep on walking until you see the light again. It might not be an easy process; it is like a wound that takes time to heal completely. Losing someone you love will leave a mark on you, which could be a great reminder of the happy days you spent with this special person.
Don't lose faith in life. Nothing in this world is permanent. For now, stay healthy and live a better and stronger you after experiencing the temporary dark void.
Mourning might make or break your appetite. You can either lose it or resort to stress eating to cope. This and other drastic lifestyle changes brought about by grief can put a toll on your health. If you’re currently in this stage of grief, here is your reminder to live on and stay healthy.
To wrap, here are bonus recipes that are easy to make, warm a cold, grieving heart, and packed with nutrients to get your health in tip-top shape.
Uplift the Soul With Cherry Vegan Smoothie Bowl
The Cherry Vegan Smoothie Bowl contains natural sweeteners that will uplift your grieving soul. It is also packed with different fruits and healthy ingredients.
- 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup of frozen cherries
- 1 medium banana
- 1/2 cup of Karviva’s Divine Pinkalicious drink
- Take your frozen strawberries, frozen cherries, and banana, add to a blender.
- Pour in Karviva’s Divine Pinkalicious drink.
- Blend all together until smooth and thick. You want to make sure the consistency is fully blended but not too “liquidy.” It should come out very thick, a slushie-like texture.
- Top with your favorite granola or nuts and seeds, and enjoy!
Substitutes and Additions:
- Karviva’s natural bottled drinks are available in the Chicago and St. Louis area and will be expanding! If you currently do not have access to these drinks, use your favorite plant-based milk instead.
- Use any berry you desire. Get creative and mix and match!
Summer Pasta Salad, made with Avo-Keto for More Energy
Grieving can be exhausting, and it takes up a lot of energy. The Summer Pasta Salad, made with Avo-Keto, contains ample calories that can energize even a person in mourning.
For the Pasta
- 8 oz. rotini pasta
- Water and sea salt for cooking pasta
- ½ cup diced tomatoes on the vine
- ½ cup diced orange bell pepper
- ½ cup cucumber, sliced and halved
- ¼ cup stuffed olives
- ¼ cup mozzarella, shaved or cut thinly
For the Dressing
- ½ cup Karviva’s Avo-Keto
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- black pepper to taste
- Following the directions on the package but subtracting 1-2 minutes of cook time, cook the pasta to just slightly undercooked. Submerge pasta in ice water to stop cooking. Drain and add into a large mixing bowl.
- Add in the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, olives, and mozzarella. Lightly toss to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
- Stir the dressing into the pasta, plate to serve, and enjoy!
For you to become a stronger person, it is vital to experience all the emotions you can possibly feel. You can smile, and you can even fake it. But grief is something you should never dare to fake because it’s only going to come back until you fully embrace it. It is also necessary to feel the void of losing someone that matters to you because it teaches you to be thankful for your life and appreciative of what lies ahead.
When you see a grieving person, it’s easy to whip out the easy responses like move on or there is a reason for everything. But these can be counterproductive to a person who needs his or her feelings acknowledged and validated. Show empathy instead, listen, and remind that person that it is normal to be weak and be angry. Be a support system that allows that person to share what's inside and be genuinely respectful to the suffering of others. Healthy foods prepared with love can lift the spirit of a grieving person, so hurry to the kitchen and make them a heartwarming meal.
Life is always full of drama and plot twists. Without them, your life won't be as colorful as it is now. So while you are alive and your loved ones are with you, don't take them for granted. Build as many memories as you can with them while they are still around. That way, you could grieve for a while but will never have any regrets when they have to say goodbye.