How to Cope with Grief
Loss comes in many different forms. Coping with the loss of someone or something in your life is one of the biggest challenges people face. Grief is often thought of as the process following the death of a loved one. However, death is not the only type of loss that people experience. Loss can come in form of:
- Job loss
- Death of a pet
- Loss of health status
- Loss of a dream
- Loss of friendship
- Loss of safety
- Children moving out of the home
The change comes with intense feelings no matter what the loss. It feels like there is a hole in your life. Grieving is a process and it is different for everyone. There is no right way to grieve. There is no time limit either.
It won’t feel this intense forever
The intensity in which we experience our emotions like those we’ve likely never experienced before. The aching, the yearning, the emptiness. Sometimes it feels like it’s too much. However, it will not feel like this forever. The emotional pain may still exist but the intensity of the pain will subside. Try to think about riding the wave of the intense emotions. Remember that a wave comes in with a force and a crash. The wave then recedes and goes back into the ocean. When you are able, ride the wave and remind yourself there will be relief. There always is. Reach out for support when you are able to relax after riding the intensity.
You can handle the grief
The pain of loss is so strong that for many the natural instinct is to numb the pain. People dive into work, drugs, alcohol, an unhealthy relationship, etc to escape. Anything to help distract them from their experience. This numbing actually creates an undesired effect. The emotions come back stronger and the grief process lasts longer. Try to allow yourself grace and compassion while developing new healthy ways to cope with the pain.
All feelings are valid and normal
The big emotions– anger, sadness, guilt, relief- come out in the grief process. Know that whatever feeling or emotion arises for you is normal. There is no right way to feel when grieving. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings. The emotions are a part of your healing journey and know that in time you’ll look back and have a greater understanding of that pain.
There is no timetable for grief
“Time heals everything.” How we wish that were true. Often with grief, there are renewed waves of grief after some time has passed. You’re great one day and a mess the next. People are shocked that their grief has returned and sometimes out of the blue. People are concerned that they have gotten worse. This is actually just how grief works. It is not linear. Each time the emotions return you learn to cope and resolve them; you are moving forward in your grief process.
There does not have to be a rational explanation for grief
“I shouldn’t feel…”
“It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I should be over it be now.”
These “should statements” can cause increased stress and pressure to quickly heal from the loss. There are no time tables and there is no right way to grieve. Try to introduce accepting thoughts that include compassion to your healing process. Tell yourself “I am…” instead of “I should…” For example, I am feeling…” or “I’m not over it.” It’s a simple change that can help you accept where you’re at in your grieving process today.
Remember you aren’t alone.
Grief can be a lonely process. It may feel like no one else gets it and no one will understand. You’re right. No one experiences the loss in the way that you are right now. However, there are ways to receive support. Check out a local support group and attend counseling with a grief counselor.
Our grief counselor, Catherine Ladd, can help. She is specially trained in helping individuals and families with their grief process. She offers grief counseling in Wilmington, NC and online counseling for residents of North Carolina. Reach out, we can help. Get started now.
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