Try as we might to avoid it, we all experience grief at some point in our lives. Grief does not only come following the death of a loved one, but may also be felt with the loss of a job, miscarriage or infertility, diagnosis of disease (especially if it’s terminal), divorce, and many other situations in which a heavy loss is felt. Check out Coping with Loss: Is Your Reaction Normal? to learn the very different and surprising ways that people might react to grief.
When we experience grief, we need to process the loss in order to begin healing. These are 6 healthy tips on how to process grief so that you can begin to feel hope and peace again in the midst of your pain.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
After experiencing any kind of loss, grief is not only natural but also very healthy. If you need to cry, let the tears flow. If you feel angry, some people find it helpful to rip paper, punch a pillow, or drive outside town and yell at the top of your lungs on the side of a gravel road. Being angry is OK and normal in grief. So let it out in healthy ways that don’t harm you or others. Allowing the grief to come out as needed will also help you not to “take it out” on those closest and most supportive of you.
Accept and Reach Out for Support
Going through a loss can cause us to retreat into ourselves and begin isolating from others. This can be healing for a short time, but don’t stay here long. Your friends and family want to help you in whatever way they can. Accept meals or other offers for help. Talk with someone you’re close to or just spend time with people. It will help in the healing process as you interact with caring and supportive people more.
Prepare for Ups and Downs
Sometimes people are surprised to have hours or days of calm, followed by a period of immense emotional pain. Preparing yourself for these “swings” of grief will help you understand and cope when they happen. You’re not broken and there’s nothing wrong. The waves of grief are normal and will get easier and less frequent with time.
Get it Out!
Processing the grief means confronting the pain rather than pushing it away or running from it. Discussing the loss with a friend or counselor is one way to get your thoughts and feelings out. Other people journal, write poems, or create art. Find what works and helps you to process. And remember that taking more than one approach can be very helpful.
Take Care of Yourself
Following a loss our world can feel shaken and shattered. We may feel lost and confused, or have an enormous lack of motivation. What a lot of people do is turn to comfort food and a sedentary lifestyle. You ABSOLUTELY want to take it easier on your body while you are grieving. But remember that eating crappy food is going to make your body feel… well, crappy. One of perhaps the hardest things to do in our grief is to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and maintain other good self-care practices. However, taking good care of your body will help you to heal from your grief faster – physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
Visualize what you want life to look like now
Probably the hardest part of loss is the difference between how you expected life to be and the reality of what life is now. However difficult it may be, at some point you will need to begin visualizing how you want your life to look now. No, life is not going to be exactly how it was before. But despite this life can still hold hope, laughter, joy, and peace for you. It might be difficult to believe that right now, so practice visualizing how you want your life to go now within this new reality. And you will be surprised at how you begin to heal from your pain and have hope for the future.
By learning about the process of grief and following these 6 tips for processing your loss, you will become an active participant in your grief journey. Learning and growing through the ups and downs of grief. Empowered, you will transform your pain and loss into a purposeful, more meaningful, and healthier life. If you or a loved one are in need of grief counseling, please contact me at (531) 289-8246 and we can set up a half-hour free consultation to meet.