Grief is a sensation of deep sorrow regarding the loss of a person or ideals, the passing of time or a missed experience. We all experience grief at some point in our lives, and although the feeling is universal, the way it affects each of us will be different.
While many people may shy away from embracing feelings of grief and loss, they are integral to the healing process. Those who suppress, ignore or minimize the feelings that accompany death and loss will in reality have a harder time moving forward.
You can move through the natural process with grace by developing coping skills in managing grief and loss. In this article, we’ll identify five ways that you can embrace this time with respect and compassion.
Managing grief and loss
1. Maintain a routine
Grief can often derail our sense of routine. And while we absolutely need to dedicate time during our day to the grieving process— much of grief is healthy, natural and necessary—excessive grief or misplaced grief can easily compromise our own wellbeing, social life and productivity.
Maintaining a daily routine, like grief, will look different for everyone. To start, though, try to keep your sleep schedule, meals, exercise and job or school on a regular schedule with reasonable expectations for significant losses. As time progresses, your routine should look nearly normal aside from some processing and coping strategies you adopt.
Managing grief and loss will require you to try new things and adjust as you go. There’s no reason to rush into it, either, just remember to continuously work towards some semblance of normalcy. Your thought processes will soon follow.
2. Surround yourself with empathetic friends and family
The social support you have will be crucial to managing grief and loss. While your entire circle of friends may not necessarily be included in the actions you take to cope with loss, a few of your closest friends and family will be bulwarks to you in hard times.
While spending time with family can be helpful during a grieving period, it may also be appropriate to set boundaries. You may need to monitor the time your siblings spend at your house after a death in the family or set a time limit on how much you remain on the subject. Your intuition and a professional counselor can help you establish clear boundaries and enforce them in a compassionate manner.
Don’t forget that your own grieving process will differ from others, even if you are affected by the same loss. Your needs will be unique, so keep your expectations in check.
3. Don’t shy away from your thoughts about the loss
While your loss may appear simple to those outside of your experience, grief can be very complex. For example, you may have mixed emotions about the person you lost, or struggle with having little closure about a relationship that ended.
Although frightening, allowing yourself to explore these thoughts will keep your grief from remaining stagnant. Journaling, taking long walks, meditating, watching old movies, sharing memories or chatting with a therapist can help you externalize these subconscious sensations. Only by embracing and pondering your feelings can you truly move forward.
4. Take part in rituals
For all of recorded human history, rituals have played an important role in society. Rituals help people to accept the past, grow in self-awareness, meditate on the present and anticipate the future. Rituals can be beautiful or difficult to observe, but they’re always imbued with meaning.
One of the best coping skills in managing grief and loss is by engaging in the practices that are already common when a loss has occurred, especially in regard to grieving a loved one. For example, attending a wake, funeral, celebration of life, burial or religious or cultural ceremony is a helpful tool for communities to connect and mourn a person.
For non-death-related grief, creating your own rituals may be helpful. For example, if you find yourself leaving a job, you may decide to have a final lunch with your coworkers, write thank you notes to those who have helped you in your career or take extra care cleaning out your desk.
5. Attend grief and loss counseling
Some aspects of grief are OK to experience alone, but be wary of self-isolation. The uncomfortable nature of the feelings that accompany loss may lead us to close ourselves off to others at a time when the joy of company is most needed. If you’re trying to handle the emotions of grief on your own, grief and loss counseling is a healthy route for you.
If you’re having trouble processing a loss or struggle to discuss your emotions, a counselor can help. Professionals trained in the stages of grief and the best tools for healing can help you open up, understand your reactions and find ways to move forward with a reverence for the past. Pyramid Online Counseling can help you return to a productive, fulfilling life. Get in touch today.