We are all exposed to loss in our day-to-day lives. Whether it is the death of a loved one, the breakdown of a relationship, a job layoff, or a move, in all cases we experienced the absence of something that was really important to us. After each loss, comes a duel. A process in which we will have to elaborate our emotions and redirect our lives. However, the coping strategies that each person uses are different.
For some it is relatively easy to accept the new situation and adapt to it. Meanwhile, for others, the world seems to fall apart. Confusion, pain, and anger settle in their lives, gripping them and robbing them of happiness.
However, these differences come from the fact that each person uses a different coping style. And luckily, we can all tweak ours if it doesn’t seem to work for us.
Coping strategies for grief
Coping is defined as the set of cognitive and behavioral efforts that are put in place to manage and respond to internal or external demands. When the situation involves demands that exceed the capabilities of the person, stress appears. It is then that coping strategies are put into operation to adapt to this demand.
Grief, without a doubt, is one of these experiences in which we feel overwhelmed and we have to use our personal resources. However, there are different coping strategies for grief, and not all are equally effective.
Coping focused on the problem
In this case all resources are focused on the problem in question that requires a solution. It happens based on three different coping styles :
- Reflective: consists of analyzing and reflecting on the situation and oneself, as well as planning how to get ahead.
- Reactive: it implies impulsive and uncontrolled activities, moved by the distorted thoughts of each individual.
- Suppressive: in this case all kinds of actions are initiated to deny what happened and avoid exposing oneself to it.
Reflective strategies bring the person closer to giving a solution to the problem. On the other hand, the reactive and suppressive ones keep him away from this possibility.
Thus, when a coping focused on solving the problem is implemented, the stressful situation is identified and its importance is valued. In addition, its causes are analyzed and behaviors aimed at producing changes in the situation are initiated.
It consists of focusing the energies, not on the problem itself, but on the emotions that it causes. Thus we find, on the one hand, emotional processing, which involves recognizing and understanding the feelings that are being experienced. On the other, the emotional expression that consists of releasing and sharing those emotions, either with others or with oneself.
In the same way, emotional coping can be carried out from a reflective, reactive or suppressive style. They will consist of analyzing emotions, expressing them impulsively and uncontrollably or avoiding them, respectively.
Consequences of coping strategies for grief
All of the above options are strategies that people use to deal with a loss. If we analyze it carefully, it will be easy for us to realize which ones we usually use ourselves. However, each of them has different consequences, and they make the duel take place more or less quickly and effectively.
People who use a reactive style are more likely to grieve complicated, as well as to experience anxiety and depressive symptoms. This can be beneficial in the initial moments, as anger can give the individual a sense of strength. But, if it is maintained over time, it will prevent you from preparing the duel properly.
On the other hand, those who use emotional expression and reflective style experience greater growth and positive personal transformation after grief. These people actively seek ways to solve the problem, ask for social support and express their feelings appropriately.
Therefore, it is clear that the most functional way of facing a duel is to identify, express and release emotions in an appropriate way. In addition to maintaining mental clarity and implementing behaviors that actively help us solve the situation. Denying the problem, avoiding ourselves, or reacting impulsively will only intensify the suffering.
The duel hurts
Grief is a natural reaction to the loss of someone (or something) very valuable to us. It is a painful experience that only heals by letting it hurt.