How to Deal With Grief and Loss
While the human mind can comprehend thousands of pieces of information in a few minutes, it often finds itself out of depth when facing death. The absence of a dear one is probably the most difficult challenge that any human has to face.
While we all understand that death is inescapable, it still takes us by surprise. As a result, we’re overwhelmed with a multitude of emotions ranging from sadness to confusion. And while those feelings subside with time, it’s essential to get over them in a healthy manner.
Perhaps you’ve recently lost a loved one, and that grief has rendered you unable to live a normal daily life. In that case, we’ll give you some advice that might comfort you.
1. Accept the Way You’re Feeling
Grief isn’t something to get over; it’s something to experience. And it has many stages:
- Denial: This doesn’t make sense. How can this be happening to me?
- Anger: Why did this happen to me? There must be someone to blame.
- Bargaining: Will life go back to normal if I do something?
- Depression: Why is life so sad and empty?
- Acceptance: It’s alright; life is all about ups and down, isn’t it?
Unlike what most people say, you don’t have to go through all the stages to overcome your loss. You only need to be aware of them if you experience them and know that you’re on the right track.
When people encounter a tough loss, they automatically think they have to mask those stages. This isn’t a healthy way of grieving because, aside from the shock and the sadness, you’ll have to make an additional effort to hide your emotions. Instead, the right way to deal with your feelings is to accept them and let yourself experience them.
Moreover, never judge yourself for your emotions, and react in whatever way that gives you comfort. If you want to cry or scream, go for it. It might release some of the intense feelings you’re bottling inside.
2. Talk to People About Your Feelings
Most of the people you know have probably felt grief sometime in their lives. That’s why it’s essential to talk to people you trust about your feelings.
This way, you won’t feel alone, and you’ll benefit from letting all your jumbled thoughts out. Unfortunately, avoiding the topic will lead to it being the elephant in the room, and the tension with the enforced sadness will be too much to handle.
Additionally, listening to other people’s experiences with loss may lead you to make peace with your own. It’s also okay if you just want to talk, not listen. The point is to let your feelings out and not allow them to torment you. If you have a support system, you’ll probably go through the stages of grief smoother than expected.
3. Take Your Time
The process of going through the stages of grief isn’t as organised as you’d think. So, it’s expected that one stage may take much more time than the other. Accordingly, you can’t have a timeline of your coping process. You just have to go with the flow and let yourself feel.
To have a better grip on your emotions, you should be patient with them. People react differently to grief, so just because someone healed faster than you doesn’t mean that you aren’t on the right track.
Moreover, avoid judging yourself for taking time to heal, and don’t listen to anyone telling you that it’s time to get over what has happened. You shouldn’t rush through one stage just to get to the next one. Remind yourself that it isn’t a race, and to heal, you have to feel everything deeply. So, give yourself the time you need.
4. Take Care of Your Health
When you go through a traumatic event, like losing a loved one, you may forget to care for your health properly. Unfortunately, this can put you in a state of turmoil in your life’s balance when trying to heal both your mental and physical health.
Moreover, it often helps to check in with your family members who are going through the same grief and see if they’ve eaten. Taking care of others will make you pay attention to your health. Also, during the first few days, try to eat normally and not skip many meals. For example, if you don’t feel like having breakfast, that’s fine, but you’d have to eat lunch.
As time passes, you can build more healthy habits if you don’t want your physical health to deteriorate. For instance, you can start exercising or meditation. They’ve both proved to be helpful companions during the grieving process because of their positive effects on your mood and overall health.
5. Take a Break From Grieving
For a healthy coping process, you should take a break from grieving every once in a while. For instance, try hanging out with your friends and family to do fun activities. You may feel guilty at first that you’re having a good time, but try to think about your lost loved one and how they would’ve wanted you to heal.
Moreover, taking a break will do wonders for your mental health. You’ll get a sense of normalcy in your life again. This is vital to learn how to live again without the person you’ve lost. Also, you’ll gain more control over your emotions, which may quicken your healing process.
If you aren’t ready to go out, you can look for a new hobby, take a relaxing bath, or watch a movie that’ll get a few laughs out of you. You’ll appreciate the way you’ll feel afterward. And remember that this isn’t about forgetting about your loved one; it’s just about getting to experience life without their presence.
6. Maintain a Daily Routine
Going through a loss may significantly affect your routine. Reflecting on what has happened and digesting your emotions will drain your energy, leaving you unable to go on with your life. However, maintaining a daily routine during this will give you a better grip on reality.
First of all, if you can’t get a hold of your life after losing someone, just break the process down into small steps. So, it’s a perfectly acceptable start to eat three meals a day. Then, as time passes, you can include exercise and television time in your daily routine.
Second of all, it isn’t preferable to make significant changes during this time, like starting a new job or changing houses. This can make you lose all sense of normality, which will make it harder for you to get through this difficult time. It’s important to feel secure in this time, so don’t make big decisions just yet.
7. Join a Support Group
If you feel like you aren’t getting any better and want to start living normally, it may be time to join a support group. These groups are helpful in so many ways, especially if you don’t have a solid support system at home.
Furthermore, exchanging loss and grief stories will give you a sense of security because it’ll help you see that you aren’t alone in this. We all have to go through the thunderous storms of life.
Moreover, you can benefit from other people’s experiences. If there’s something they did that helped them, you can try it out and see for yourself. Also, if you’re embarrassed to talk about your feelings in front of family and friends, support groups make for an excellent alternative.
However, you can’t depend on them completely to heal. There will come a time when you’ll need to stand by yourself. Joining support groups will just get you on the right track there.
8. Think About Your Loved One
It may be triggering at first, but you’ll have to think about your loved ones eventually to get over their loss. The pain you’re going to feel when you do this is essential because it’ll later translate into gratitude for getting a chance to be happy with that person.
There are many ways you can remember the people you’ve lost without drowning in sadness. For instance, you can arrange a meeting with friends or family to recall funny and happy stories about them. Also, you can arrange activities to honour your lost one’s memory on the anniversary of their death.
Anniversaires are naturally a challenging time because you may experience feelings that you’ve kept at bay for quite a time. However, celebrating them will help you better control your emotions and feel grateful for getting to know this person.
Going through old pictures and reminiscing about pleasant memories may also help you get through the grieving period. In addition, it’s a good way to feel connected to the person you’ve lost.
9. Forgive Yourself
An undeniable sense of guilt often follows sadness during the mourning period over a family member or a friend. Whether they’ve died because of an accident or naturally, our mind automatically goes to numbing thoughts filled with ‘I wish’ and ‘what if?’.
Regardless of what your mind might tell you, death is an entirely unexpected and uncontrollable event. You couldn’t have predicted it and had closure with the person you’ve lost. So, instead of dwelling over something that you can’t change, try to focus on your emotions and process them so that you can move forward.
In the case that you’ve argued or said something hurtful to the person you’ve lost, you should weigh all the good moments you had against that one fight. After all, fights are a normal part of any relationship, and you can rarely avoid them.
To summarise, guilt is a normal and valid human feeling. And you have to push through it to get over it. So, validating your feelings and accepting them will get you through the healing process quicker.
10. Seek Professional Help
Grieving is a unique experience for each person. Unfortunately, there’s no catalog to follow or reference to refer back to. But there is a thin line between normal coping mechanisms and going into a full depression episode.
Also, there’s a difference between situational depression and clinical depression. If you suspect that you’re going through the latter, you should get professional help. You can tell something is overly wrong if you’ve been mourning for quite a time with no improvement and you’ve reached a point where you don’t want to get out of bed.
A psychiatrist will help you validate your emotions and understand them better. As a result, you’ll feel more ready to get through your grief and lead a normal life. Also, if you have an existing mental health issue, it’d be better to contact your psychiatrist right after away.
The progress of grief isn’t linear, and you won’t always go up. Instead, you’ll probably find yourself at the point where you began after some time, and that’s completely normal. Just keep in mind that everything you’re feeling is normal, and be gentle with yourself during this phase. We hope you have a better idea now on how to deal with grief and loss.