Overcoming Grief Overload

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

What is Grief Overload?

Grief overload is what you feel when you experience multiple significant losses all at once or in a relatively short period of time.

Grief overload is different from your typical grief because it’s stemming from more than one loss and because it’s jumbled. Our minds and hearts have enough trouble coping with one loss at a time, but when they must deal with multiple losses simultaneously, the grief often seems especially chaotic and defeating. Before you can mourn one loss, another loss emerges.

It’s important to note that grief doesn’t have to be strictly tied to death. It can include a divorce/separation, an empty nest as the children move out, the death of a pet, a cherished person moving away, or even a broken friendship. No matter the situation, if we haven’t taken the time to process each one and allowed ourselves to grieve naturally, chances are that the next change will trigger the sadness of the first situation, and we will find ourselves becoming overloaded with grief.

How can we unpack feeling overloaded, slowly, and safely?

Recognise and directly name what you are experiencing.

You must give each loss its own time and find a way to honour them individually. Try not to lump all your losses together, as it may only serve to minimise the importance that each person or event played in your life.

As you do your best to grieve each loss directly, make sure you accept the realities of grief. You may feel overwhelmed and fatigued, you may find daily tasks difficult. This is normal, don’t be overly worried but keep moving forward. How you naturally react is not your fault, and it does not define or limit you as a person. If anything, it shows us inner strength we never knew we had, and it reminds us that we are human.

Have a daily routine

When faced with multiple losses, many people feel that everything is unsettled and nothing in life is sure. While these feelings are uncomfortable, they are normal. Having a daily routine may help you feel some sense of control. A daily routine may be as simple as waking up and going to bed at the same time. Or doing one thing everyday to promote self-care.

Talk to trusted loved ones

You may find yourself isolating and distancing yourself from your loved ones. Talk to others who can listen. Share with them the individual sources your grief is coming from and ask for their support as you navigate a time you know will bring up intense waves of emotion. If your feelings are particularly intense or distressing, reach out to a grief counsellor.

Loss singular or multiple is never easy. While some people may have the opportunity to take their time to process the loss and accept it as reality, others may not have similar experiences. Grief overload can be hard, but you will get through it. Work one day at a time and you will come out the other side.