Experiencing Grief and Anxiety
This past year was extremely difficult. Many good things happened throughout the year, but my family and I also went through some tough times. As so many recently have, we experienced loss. As a result, I would be remiss if I did not talk about how grief has impacted my anxiety and vice versa. Experiencing loss has made me stop to think about the emotional journey of grief. Furthermore, experiencing loss and the process of grief has taught me how to cope when enduring a deep ocean of emotions, which can be difficult to surface from.
What Grief and Anxiety Feels Like to Me
First, I think it is important to recognize there are different types of grief. Experiencing the loss of a loved one is extremely difficult—and I have personally experienced this type of loss recently—but we can also experience grief from other losses. These could be the loss of a relationship, income, or anything that leads to feelings of grief.
Generally speaking, grief is not comfortable to experience. But when you struggle with chronic anxiety, grief can also bring on certain aspects of anxiety that are often difficult to manage. In dealing with my grief, I have found that I not only experience intense sadness, but I also experience a sense of panic associated with my grief that becomes overwhelming.
When I feel this panic, I try to avoid anything that reminds me of the loss. The anxious feelings usually include all the uncomfortable physical symptoms that I typically experience, such as an increased heart rate and an upset stomach. I also feel a sense of doom, and in the aftermath, I tend to associate this feeling with items that trigger specific memories, such as my personal belongings.
However, the more I try to avoid those triggers, the more heightened my anxiety becomes. As a result, during the grieving process, I must navigate the tremendous sadness and loss, as well as the anxious feelings that seem to attach themselves to my grief.
Coping with Anxiety and Grief
Since trying to avoid these uncomfortable emotions actually intensifies them, it becomes even harder to manage anxiety in the long-run. So I have found the coping strategies below to be important and beneficial in the grieving process:
- Recognize the impact of what you are experiencing. It's essential to understand what you feel, why that feeling surfaced, and its overall impact on you. This includes recognizing the emotions and memories that you are trying to avoid because you don't want to experience the pain associated with them. Be willing to process those emotions. This is one of the hardest things for me to do, but I also know the importance of doing so. Simply recognizing some of these emotions and memories is ultimately helpful for me in the grieving process.
- Take one day at a time. The grieving process simply takes time. As time passes, this does not mean that you miss what you have lost any less. However, as time goes by, it is possible to heal and begin to cope with that loss. Life can still be happy and fulfilling—it just takes time.
- Allow yourself to lean on others. I have always talked about the importance of leaning on others in your support system. In the midst of grief, this becomes more essential than ever. Talk to your support system about what you feel, what memories you have, and what you are struggling with. I have found this is key in processing my own feelings of grief and sadness.
The grieving process is difficult, and it can become even more difficult if you struggle with anxiety. This is what this feels like to me and how I have learned to cope. What tools and strategies help you deal with grief?Please share in the comment section below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2021, February 2). Experiencing Grief and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, April 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2021/2/experiencing-grief-and-anxiety
Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez
This is a beautiful read. From your experience of what grief and anxiety look and feel like to you, to your suggestions for coping with them. Grief and anxiety are such integral human experiences. What you have shared can be felt and comforting to so many. Thank you.
Thank you so much for your comments. My hope is that this will be helpful to anyone who can relate. I truly appreciate your thoughts.
All the best,