Healthy Ways to Process Grief
One of the most difficult things in life is coping with the loss of someone close to you. You may feel overwhelmed, shocked, angry, lost and even guilt after the passing of a loved one. Grief may make performing your daily activities much harder than before. It can seep into your life and affect your sleep patterns and relationships. While everyone grieves differently, there are some healthy ways to cope with loss that can help you process grief, accept the loss, and eventually move on.
What Exactly Is Grief?
Grief is the emotional turmoil you go through after someone you care for is taken from you. We most closely associate grief and mourning with death, which does in fact cause the deepest level of grief. However, several jarring life events can cause this turmoil, including the loss of a romantic relationship, job, home, a miscarriage, and even losing the feeling of safety. You could experience these feelings after graduating college, falling ill, losing a pet, or losing the opportunity for fulfilling a dream. Grief is a normal process, and everyone experiences it at some point after losing something or someone significant to them. In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross demonstrated the 5 stages of grief. Not everyone experiences the stages in a straight linear fashion, or all 5 stages. Stages can last minutes, days, weeks, or months. Grief is a fluid process with no set timeline.
Whether it’s from friends, religion, or a grief counselor, knowing you are not alone can help you cope with grief. While in mourning, you may feel like withdrawing into yourself away from friends and family. However, seeking support is an important part of the healing process. Talking about your feelings can make the burden easier to bear. Simply being around people you care about can help you start the acceptance period of grief. Oftentimes, your loved ones won’t know exactly what to say to help, so be vocal about what you need from them. Some people find comfort in their faith in times of loss. Regardless of faith, there are support groups for almost every type of loss, and mental health professionals can help you work through your grief.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
With grief comes stress, which can take a physical toll on your body. Fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and insomnia are common in those who are in mourning. Acknowledging your pain is the first step in healing. Avoidance can prolong the process, and can lead to substance abuse and other health problems. Exercise is a wonderful outlet. As the body feels strong and healthy, your mind is better able to cope with intense emotions. Furthermore, using a creative outlet, such as writing or painting, to express your pain can help with the process.