Experiencing anxiety following the death of a loved one is a common feeling, especially when that death was caused by an accident. Anxiety during grieving is also known as bereavement anxiety, according to mental health experts, and, while it is temporary, there are things you can do to help ease it. Our guide here will help you better understand bereavement anxiety.
What is Bereavement Anxiety?
There are different reasons people experience heightened anxiety in connection to the death of a loved one. Even after several years, a death anniversary might make someone anxious because they are not quite sure how to handle that day. They may worry about it weeks in advance, and they might become feeling trapped by feelings of anxiety. In that case, they may need to take certain steps each year to deal with the anxiety as the event gets near.
What is more, some family members might feel partly responsible for the death of a loved one. This is called survivor’s guilt, and it can magnify feelings of anxiety by leaving you feeling as though you could have done something differently or something more to prevent the tragedy. Survivor’s guilt is a maladaptive response to trauma, and depending on the type of incident that caused it and the sufferer’s personality, it might require therapy.
What Happens When Anxiety Doesn’t Go Away?
Bereavement anxiety is a temporary condition. You should feel it gradually decrease within a year of the death of your loved one. If it has been more than 12 months and you still feel anxious about the death, you may be suffering from a more serious anxiety disorder.
More severe anxiety disorders require treatment from a mental health professional, so it’s crucial to be able to recognize the difference. The following symptoms indicate an anxiety disorder, especially when they are experienced frequently or to a severe degree:
- Inability to focus
- Social anxiety
- Muscle tension
What Can You Do to Alleviate Bereavement Anxiety?
Take Your Time to Grieve
One of the primary reasons people experience bereavement anxiety is that they try to move on too quickly from the experience. They return to work and resume their everyday routines instead of taking the time necessary to process their loss properly. If you experience anxiety about the loss, take your time to grieve and honor the deceased loved one.
Ask for Forgiveness
Feeling anxiety and grief is sometimes what happens when you feel guilty or feel as though something was left unsaid. In this situation, you may need to experience a sense of closure by addressing the issues that remain between you and your loved one. By sharing your feelings, you can gain this sense of closure after your loved one is gone. This can work by expressing yourself at their grave, talking in confidence with a spiritual advisor, or sharing your thoughts with another loved one.
Spend Time Meditating
Engaging in meditation each day can help you alleviate anxiety and the tension caused by stress. In general, this is a great relaxation method, but it also helps those suffering from bereavement anxiety by emotionally connecting with a loved one. This involves focusing on memories and feelings you have for your deceased loved one as you meditate. By exploring these connections and realizing you will always have them, you’ll feel at peace with the relationship you have with your deceased loved one.
When you’re experiencing bereavement anxiety that seems prolonged, regular counseling can also help relieve the condition. Talking to a therapist and participating in treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help you address the triggers that cause you to experience heightened anxiety. Together with your therapist, you’ll learn how to alleviate your anxiety in less time.
Get Your Finances in Order
After a sudden death, bills can quickly add up, leaving you and other surviving family members’ finances in shambles. If the death of a loved one was caused by the negligence or incompetence of another person, you could hire a wrongful death attorney to help cover medical bills, lost income, and funeral costs.
This process involves more than providing you with financial relief. It allows you to seek justice for your loved one’s death by holding the at-fault party liable. Besides, getting your finances in order by receiving the compensation you are due can help relieve much of the stress and anxiety a wrongful death might spur.