5 Tips for Coping With Loss
Loss is a tough thing to experience. Aside from the grief we feel ー which can come in many forms ー there’s also the fact that life will change after it, and adapting to a new reality without whatever or whomever you’ve lost can add weight to an already heavy situation.
There are several different roadmaps that can help us work our way through it, and while we may not experience each of the stages of grief in the same order or in the same way, knowing what to expect can be an important part of navigating through it. Part of the healing process is knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel ー and remembering this even when the path ahead seems especially dark or hopeless at times.
Grief is a complex feeling involving mixed emotions, and we all feel it differently. It can be difficult and emotionally draining, but it’s important to remember that it is a natural response to loss. While prolonged grief can lead to other serious issues such as depression, it’s also important to remember that each person will take their own time to work through each stage of grief, and there’s no need to rush or force the process. The way each of us reacts to it will be highly individual. There are no universal methods for healing from grief ー but there are several things that can help you to work through it, and feel better during the process. If you are currently trying to cope with a loss 一 be that the loss of a loved one, a pet, or a relationship, a job, or a situation 一 below are five tips to help you move forward.
1. Give Yourself Time
Grief is a unique and complex emotional journey that has no quick fix. If you are feeling down at the moment, you don’t have to force a smile onto your face and pretend that everything is alright. Suppressing your emotions won’t help the situation, nor will rushing it. In more serious cases, ignoring how you feel can cause harmful effects and damage your mental and emotional health. Although cases of prolonged grief may require professional help, there’s no set timeline on what defines a “normal” amount of time to grieve. Grief is not a step-by-step process, and everyone’s pace will be different. If you are currently in a state of grief, understand that what you are feeling is normal, and okay. It is natural to feel pain, so don’t pressure yourself to move on before you’re ready to. Instead, be kind to yourself, and give yourself the time and space you need to heal.
2. Reach Out For Help
Grief can be a challenging process, especially if you’re dealing with it alone. But you don’t need to be: there are many other people out there who have gone through similar experiences, and who can help you through your journey. Seeking out a support system could help you make sense of what you’re going through and help you navigate through it, so feel free to share your struggles with someone you trust. You may start by reaching out to those who care about you and talking to them about your feelings. If you’re not comfortable discussing this with someone in your social circle, consider seeking help from a qualified professional such as a grief counselor or psychologist. One benefit of finding a grief counselor is that they can support you through this dark time by providing customized advice that’s specific to your individual journey. Another way to seek help is to join a grief support group: these offer a chance at discourse that can take place in person or online, where you can participate anonymously if you wish to. This way, you can talk freely to people who have been through similar situations, without concern of judgment or the vulnerability that may arise from speaking to someone you know.
3. Don’t Ignore Your Emotions
Experiencing mixed emotions is a natural part of the grieving process. However, it is important not to ignore or suppress your feelings, since rejecting negative emotions can be harmful to your mental health. If you feel depressed, recognize it and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel this way. Don’t hide your feelings. Let these feelings be there without judgment ー even from yourself ー and accept their presence. It can be painful to cope with a new reality without whomever or whatever you’ve lost ー but we can process, let go, and learn from that pain. One possible way to validate your feelings is to write them down. Using a journal to keep track of how you feel each day may help you to fully process your pain, and eventually accept these feelings. It’s also important to remember that grieving isn’t a linear process, and know that the emotional ups-and-downs can come and go in waves. You may feel stronger, better, or even fine one day, and come back to feeling low the next. Journaling can also help you steer your way through these muddy waters, by making you more aware of your triggers, and helping you make sense of your reactions. Emotional release is an extremely important part of the healing process.
4. Look After Your Health
The depressive and negative feelings experienced after a major loss can be emotionally draining, and chances are, they can easily make us neglect our physical well-being. Grief has the power to make a person feel a constant lack of energy, making one not want to do much of anything. While taking some time off to recharge is essential, not taking care of your body can take a toll on both your physical and psychological health. Practice self-care, and start with the basics: brush your teeth, wash your face, and take a shower. Make sure you’re eating some nutritious meals ー even if your appetite has taken a temporary hit ー and if you don’t feel motivated to get out of bed, try to convince yourself to do so for at least a short while to begin with, making that time a little longer each day. Do things that can make you feel refreshed. Going for a walk with your dog if you have one, or doing some mild exercise, can help to strengthen your physical health while giving you a dose of happy hormones to boost your mental health. It might not be easy at first ー but try to remind yourself that greater physical comfort and well-being can also make it easier to cope psychologically. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself as kindly as you would treat a beloved friend who had experienced the same loss. And if you’re suffering from the pains of bereavement, remind yourself that taking care of yourself is likely to be something your lost loved one would want you to do.
5. Appreciate the Good Memories
Grieving can be complicated for many of us as it tends to happen very suddenly. If you haven’t had a chance to properly say goodbye to whomever or whatever you’ve lost, why not take that time to do so now? Rather than focusing on the loss, think about the good memories you enjoyed with them. If it’s a person, think about what happened when you first met them, and those moments you spent together that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but are now precious to you. If it was an item or situation that you lost, think about what you gained or learned from it, and how it enriched your life. Think about how it all made you feel. If it made you feel happy, be thankful for this, and the fact that it was part of your life, even for a short while. These memories and this gratitude will remain in your heart. Moving on doesn’t mean you no longer care about what or whom you’ve lost: it just means that you’ve truly acknowledged that it or they are gone, and you’re ready to accept your new reality. Finding closure doesn’t have to mean leaving the past in the past: rather, it’s a chance to be thankful for having had that in your life, and appreciate how it has impacted who you’ve become. Instead of just being the sadness of a loss, grief can also, with time, become a celebration of life.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: APA Dictionary of Psychology - Grief; Can I Grieve If Nobody Died?; Prolonged Grief Disorder: Mental Health Experts Identify the Signs; What Is Complicated Grief?; Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Biography; On Death and Dying; What You Should Know About the Stages of Grief; The Dual Process Model Of Coping With Bereavement: Rationale And Description; Grief and Bereavement: What Psychiatrists Need to Know; How to Hack Your Hormones for a Better Mood.
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