Coping with the stress of loss has some common passages that are normal, though not comfortable. The sheer intensity and unfamiliar nature of emotions in grief can cause doubts about mental health, so it can be helpful to know that others have experienced similar reactions. If you use the acronym "NEAR" to help you remember these grief reactions, you may find it comforting:
- N is for Numb. Especially if a change is unexpected, the emotions that come do so over time. Initially, we may feel very little other than a numbness that helps us cope.
- E is for Emotional. After the numbness begins to wear off, many emotions may surface, from anger and denial to deep sorrow and anxiety. The emotional intensity is heightened in the early months of loss and usually diminishes over time.
- A is for Adjusting. Loss engages us in a continual and challenging adjustment as we begin to live with what has changed in our lives. Acceptance is a word that's difficult to grasp, especially in the early period of a significant loss. Adjusting and accepting evolve over time and are never fully completed. They can be described as a recognition that the earlier periods of emotional intensity fade and we begin to incorporate the loss into our current lives. Acceptance does not mean we are "over it" or that the loss is okay with us, it simply means our psychological resistance to it is diminished.
- R is for Rebuilding or Restructuring. Life continues on with our renewed participation in it. We begin more fully integrating necessary changes to honor our discovered new meanings.
What else is changing in your life? Your answer may be considered a positive change or a painful one. Transitions can trigger multiple layers of stress, even with positive changes such as graduations, marriage, or birth of a child. Move through this site at your pace and know you will make it through this difficult time.