Grief has taken the forefront of public consciousness over the past year as more and more people suffered the loss of loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their loved ones from other natural or unnatural causes during this rough year, too. But many were unable to host funerals or other memorial services because of government restrictions designed to keep us safe. Regardless of when you lost your loved one or why it is hard to deal with grief. It is a highly individual process of pain, loss, and sadness. In this blog, we discuss the ways we can help you with managing your grief.
However, there are healthy ways to better cope with your grief. Below are six tips for getting through the process of grieving with a stronger focus on your own health and well-being.
Don't Put Restrictions on Managing Your Grief
Many people compare their grieving to others. But this is not healthy as the process is so individualized. The most common restriction people put on themselves is that of a time expectation or limit on how long you should grieve. For many, this time limit is a year. For others, the limit is a matter of a few months.
There is no cut and dried time limit for grief. In fact, you will continue feeling some signs of sadness over your loss throughout the rest of your life. Instead of putting deadlines on your feelings, accept them. Let yourself feel them, but manage your emotions instead of letting them manage you.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
One of the worst things you can ask yourself during your grief is, "Why am I not getting over my feelings as well as others?" As social beings, we naturally look to others as models of our own behavior. But comparing yourself to how others act only puts undue stress on yourself. Besides, what you see in how people act around you is not really an indicator of how deeply they feel their own loss.
Additionally, comparing your grief to others' is a way of invalidating how you feel. There is nothing wrong with your feelings or how you are grieving. You simply need to learn how to process your pain, sometimes with the help of therapy. Talking to a therapist gives you a safe and private venue to start that processing and develop healthier coping skills.
Experience Your Grief with Intention
Running from your feelings does not resolve them. Instead, ignoring your pain or sadness only makes your mind see your grief as a threat. As a result of this threat impression, you can feel anxious and more emotional when triggered by sad thoughts. You owe it to yourself to process your grief with intention, learning how to work through your sadness without feeling ashamed, frustrated, fearful or anxious.
To achieve thoughtful processing of your grief, take some time to purposefully feel your loss. This time can take place for a small amount of each day, such as 10 minutes before bedtime. Or, you can take time off from work to focus on processing your sadness. When you intentionally focus on your grief, you avoid making the feelings feel threatening.
Seek Healthy Support System For Managing Your Grief
There are multiple means for gaining support in your grieving. This support does not necessarily come from friends or other family members. Others can feel pressured by frequent discussions about your loss or the resulting grief. Instead, look for a professional counselor or therapist. They can help you process your feelings in healthy ways and develop coping skills for the future.
Other healthy support involves just being with your loved ones or friends, without verbally focusing on your loss. Instead, pursue hobbies you enjoy doing together. Being around other people and doing familiar things can help you emerge from your grief. This is not avoidance of your feelings. It is healthy socialization you need at this time, more than ever.
Respect that Sadness Is Not the Only Feeling of Healthy Grief
It is neither wrong, nor unhealthy, to feel feelings besides sadness when dealing with your loss. It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions and thoughts, even anger and frustration. At times, you can feel happy, disappointed, relieved or even betrayed. Never feel guilty for anything you feel as part of your grief. Instead, embrace all of your feelings as what you naturally need to go through to process your grieving.
Focus on Self-Care When Managing Your Grief
Many people let themselves go after loss of a loved one. Maybe you quit doing things you enjoy. Or, maybe you no longer take good care of yourself, whether physically or mentally.
Grief is confusing. Dealing with a loss often brings chaos and unwanted change. You likely have many matters to resolve, including financial, legal and organizational issues that require focus. But the biggest mistake you can make is focusing on those needs without taking care of yourself.
This focus on your well-being should include:
- Healthy diet and balanced nutrition
- Exercise and physical activity
- Healthy sleep patterns
- Good personal hygiene and self-care
Part of taking care of yourself is knowing when you need outside support. A therapist can help you resolve your grief in healthy ways and move forward in your life. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Greene Psychology Group provides this support. Call us today at 919-205-5339 for more information and to schedule your first in-person or teletherapy visit.