Grief is a journey that you go through as a natural response to the death of something or someone significant in your life. This journey involves going through a roller coaster of emotions – from shock, anger, guilt, denial, sadness, fear – all of which can be overwhelming. Going through grief also affects your physical health. Most people find it difficult to sleep, eat or even think about other things aside from their loss.
Going through a period of grief can be an intense experience which means that taking care of yourself while on this journey is even more important. There are ways to help you work through your grief while being able to live your life as normally as possible.
Grief has 5 stages and people usually go through each one to start the healing process. How long each stage lasts is different for everyone. Some people are able to easily accept their loss and are quicker to move on.
- Denial – you can’t believe what has happened
- Anger – you don’t understand why this has happened and you want to know who or what to blame
- Bargaining – you want to undo what has happened in exchange for something that you promise you will do
- Depression – you feel too sad about what happened that you can’t do anything else
- Acceptance – you feel at peace with what happened
Whichever stage of grief you are, here are some things you can do to better take care of yourself in this period and start you on the healing process.
1. Accept Your Grief
Trying to hide your pain is not a cool thing to do. Everyone who learns about your loss will know that you are grieving so don’t run from the pain and sorrow. You need to accept the fact that you will be experiencing these emotions as you work through your loss.
2. Ask and Accept Support
You cannot work through your grief by yourself so don’t hesitate to ask for and accept help from friends and family and your community. During this time, let others take care of you and help you when you need assistance. A shoulder to cry on when you suddenly can’t fight the urge to cry and someone to just listen as you air your worries are very helpful at these times.
3. Listen to Advise from the Experienced
Words of encouragement from people who have gone through the same experience can provide you with guidance on how to process your own emotions. Learn their stories and how they coped and see how you can apply it to your own path to healing. This will help you work through your grief in your own way.
4. Learn More About Grief
Most people shut themselves out from the world when grieving. You might need some days to be alone but instead of just focusing on your sorrow and fears, try to learn about what you are going through.
There are many myths surrounding the process of grief like the belief that grieving should last about a year. Different individuals have different coping mechanisms and how long it takes to process their grief will vary with each person.
Learning more about grief can also make you aware if you are actually in a state of depression. Depression and grief often have the same symptoms so if you are depressed, then you will need to seek specific help.
5. Accept Your Feelings
Grief can bring up many different feelings some of which can be very intense. You may feel anger, sadness, regret and even longing. Don’t hold them in. Acknowledge them and accept that you need to express them as part of the natural grieving process. Know that once you have expressed these feelings, they can help you work out your grief.
6. Express Your Grief
The best way to work through your grief is to let it out. You can cry, scream and yell if you need to or express your emotions through music, art, writing, even dance. Grief usually hits us emotionally when we are alone so when you feel the urge to express your grief, don’t ignore it. Expressing your grief is the only way to honor your feelings, work through your grief and move you closer to acceptance and healing.
7. Make Sure to Rest
Grieving can be physically exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to let out emotions that you are feeling so intensely. So don’t push yourself too hard to get back to your normal activities. Rest when you need to instead of going out with friends or take a leave from work for a day or two if you think you need it.
8. Do Something You Enjoy
Raise your spirits by doing something that you enjoy. Indulge in a favorite hobby or learn a new one to distract you from your grief from time to time. Whether you do something by yourself or with others, doing something you enjoy will help you feel better instead of just focusing on your pain and sorrow.
9. Laugh More
Laughter is the best medicine and it works even with grief. Grieving people sometimes feel guilty about having fun. They feel that sharing a laugh with a friend is like dishonoring the memory of their loved one. However, if their loved one was still around, wouldn’t they want those left behind to still enjoy life? Not only will laughter help you feel better, it can also take you back to memory lane when you and your loved one had fun times. This is also a good way to process your grief. Start the day with a smile and see how your mood changes.
10. Keep Believing
Although it may feel that your grief will last forever, know that it will not. Keep believing that you will one day heal and be able to accept the loss of your loved one or a relationship with a peaceful heart. Believe that you will wake up one day feeling whole and complete again and be able to honor the memory of your loved one in everything that you do for yourself, for your family, your friends and your community.
The process of grieving is different for each person but the support of friends and family as well as colleagues at work is important during this time. If you know someone who is grieving, then make sure to offer your support to help them work through their emotions. Keep in mind these tips when offering support to those in grief.
Most importantly, don’t forget to cherish your loved ones while you still can so you don’t have too many regrets. If you have gone through a loss, what did you do to process your grief?