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What the Brain Learns When We Cope With Grief

Ultimately, the grieving process is the brain learning to cope with grief that never fully goes away.
What the Brain Learns When We Cope With Grief
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Grief seems like something that we should want to avoid, but researchers say grieving is an experience that’s actually beneficial. Grieving, the process of dealing with grief, helps our brains learn how to cope with loss. When we lose a loved one, the grieving process helps us cope with no longer having that person in our life, and it’s something that can take the brain a long time to get used to since losing a loved one is a huge life change.

Learning a New Way to Live

When we lose someone who is part of our daily life it’s a jarring event that can completely change our day to day routine. Not only do you lose the loved one, but you can also lose your sense of normalcy. 

For many there’s also a loss of identity because the people close to us give us a sense of who we are. They could be a partner, sibling, child or best friend. Each relationship shapes your identity. In these relationships you take on the role of partner, sibling, parent or best friend yourself. When the other person is gone, so is that part of your identity. 

In our brains, the “we” part of our identity is just as important as “I” and “me.” When the other person is gone it can be jarring mentally because the “we” aspect is gone. While grieving you learn to accept that “we” is something that’s part of the past so that you can move forward.

It’s perfectly normal to experience a short wave of grief long after someone passes away, like dealing with grief during the holidays when there are a lot of fond memories. Prolonged grieving that lasts 6-12 months occurs when a person doesn’t adapt to the grief. Often it comes down to inability to accept the reality of what has happened, which makes it impossible to adjust to life without the other person. At that point psychological intervention can help the person acknowledge the grief but manage and adapt to it in a more effective way.

Grief and Its Connection to Various Brain Functions

New research has revealed that grief is connected to a lot of functions in the brain. The brain is processing a lot of different things whenever a person experiences grief, some of which are surprising. Grief can affect: 

  • Memory recall
  • Heart rate
  • Being able to see things from another person’s perspective
  • How pain is experienced
  • The regulation of emotions

Little is known about the connection between grief and brain function, but as the research continues we’re sure to know more that helps make the grieving process easier. 

Support Makes All the Difference When You’re Grieving

One thing that can make a huge difference during the grieving process is having a support system. Support offers two important benefits: it gives you more confidence in your ability to adapt and time to process everything while you grieve. 

Grieving is a process that takes time because you must adapt to a new way of living without the other person. In reality, dealing with grief is a continuous process that lasts for years. Any time a reminder comes up it can cause grief to occur, sometimes in a new way. Although it can seem unbearable in the moment, overtime grief becomes less overwhelming and easier to overcome.

Knowing that others are there for you makes the long process easier to bear. Having a support system of people who are there to help makes it easier to face the confusion and uncertainty about a future that doesn’t include your loved one.

If you know someone going through the grieving process the goal isn’t to cheer them up or “fix” the problem. It’s better to listen and gauge whether it’s getting easier for them to cope with the grief that they feel. The best thing you can do is let the grieving person know that you are there to provide support whenever they need it.

Green Cremation Texas is here to help families through the grieving process by providing simple, high quality cremation services that are easy to arrange. Our team handles all of the details so that the family can grieve their loss without the stress of managing funeral services. We can be reached by phone, text or email any time of day, seven days a week.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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