10 Ways to cope with grief
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. We all experience loss differently. And loss can come in many forms. We do not simply grieve when people die, but when we experience other forms of loss. Perhaps a relationship has ended, you have lost your job, you suffered a miscarriage or have been told you might struggle to have children of your own.
For some of us, these losses spur us on to live life to the fullest. For some of us we cannot imagine ever living fully again and want nothing more than to curl up in bed, hide from the world and press pause.
Whether you press pause or fast forward, you may need some help in enduring your loss. Here are a few ideas on ways that might help you cope.
1. Allow yourself to feel it
Be sad. Be angry. Cry. Shout. Sob. As Robert Frost writes “the best way out is always through” meaning the only way to really process your grief is to experience it. So allow all of your emotions to flow naturally. Ignore any expectations placed on you by others, or yourself to “be ok” or “put a brave face on”. There will be days that will be tougher than others but they will take you through to the other side.
2. Be kind to yourself
Get as much sleep as you can. Eat what you can, when you can. Yes, we should all eat healthily, but at times like these just make sure you are giving your body some fuel. Emotional pain can be as taxing to our bodies to physical pain, so we need to remember and take care of ourselves. Other ways to be kind to yourself include relaxing baths/ showers or long walks.
3. Ask for help when you need it
This is often easier said than done. However, remember that we are all human. Each and every person you know will have experienced loss or grief at some stage. Some of your loved ones may have already offered to help, some may not yet know what you are going through. Lean on others and ask for help when you need it.
4. Try and keep a routine
Any routine you can establish is helpful while grieving since you may feel like you have lost control. In the immediate aftermath of your loss setting a routine can be very hard to do. So go easy on yourself. Keep it simple. Agree to get up by a certain time each day. Agree to eat three times a day. Agree to get out of the house daily, for a walk or to see a friend. If you like to exercise, go back to the gym, to yoga or start running again. Remember your energy levels will not be what they once were, especially if you are eating less or sleeping less, so train as if you were returning from an injury.
5. Talk or write about the loss
Talk or write about the person who has passed, the relationship that is now over, the job you used to have or the missing child in your life. Expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your emotions can be an extremely powerful way of processing your loss. You do not need to enlist a professional for this. You can talk to the people you trust, family, friends, or try journaling. Of course if you find it easier to talk to an outside party, feel free to contact Ellis for a consultation.
6. Avoid numbing yourself further
Alcohol, drugs and sex are all vices we use to numb ourselves from the pain and discomfort we feel from daily life. In times of grief this can take us into a viscous cycle of avoiding the pain. If you are indulging in any of these be conscious of why you are doing so, and whether you can stop. The longer you numb yourself from the feelings, the longer the grief will consume who you are. Therefore, it is preferable that you avoid these vices until you have started to process some of your pain.
Meditation is a way to tune out from the outside world and tune into what you are feeling. Although it has a reputation as being a calming experience, it can be hard when we are going through something as emotional as grief. You may have emotions that you are avoiding, and meditation can bring these to the surface. However, the sooner you process and accept your feelings, the more able you will be to cope and move on. Read more about how meditation can help with grief.
8. Connect with your support team
Your support team are the people you love and trust, your family members, your friends. On days where you are feeling low, reach out to one of these people and talk to them. You do not have to speak about your grief, simply the act of connecting with a loved one can help lighten your mood.
9. Take Time for yourself
You may have a lot of people trying to be there for you, or get in touch with you. Remember its ok if you want to be on your own. Know that it is not your responsibility to be ok and make them feel comfortable. Just be exactly who you are and choose to spend your time in ways that will make you feel better. Sometimes that will be with others, sometimes that will be by yourself.
This is one of the greatest healers. It may seem like a cop out, but over time grief will become a smaller part of who you are. The amount of time is person and situation specific. Do not listen to the rule that says that it takes you exactly half the time of the relationship to mourn the loss of one. Do not worry if others appear to be doing better than you after the loss of a loved one. Everyone processes at their own pace, and we can never truly tell how anyone else is feeling. Take your time, and the grief will become smaller.
Although at the start grief feels like it fully consumes you fully, over time it becomes a smaller part of your life. It becomes only a part of who you are. As B.J. Neblett says best “We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives”.
If you need any further help in dealing with your grief, feel free to reach out to Ellis here at Cloud Counselling to discuss how counselling may help.