June 21, 2014
Grief is the process of responding to loss. It usually occurs as a response to death, but it can also be triggered by the end of relationships, jobs, or chapters in our lives. We all deal with grief at some point; it’s a natural response to losing someone or something we cared about deeply.
The death of a loved one can be traumatic and is a common source of grief. If you’ve recently lost someone close to you, it’s likely that you’re feeling a wide range of emotions right now, from sadness to anger to confusion. Know that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to feel many different things in the grieving process. Also keep in mind that everyone heals at their own pace. Be patient with yourself as you recover from your loss. There is no “right or wrong” timeline for grieving.
However, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you are coping in a healthy manner.
In dealing with any sort of loss, connecting yourself to a strong support system is essential. When we’re grieving, we tend to want to isolate ourselves and push others away. However, talking to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist can help you better understand how you’re feeling and also reminds you that you aren’t alone. It’s okay to ask for support; the loss of a friend can be confusing, overwhelming, and painful.
It’s also beneficial to remember the importance of self-care during this time. Maintaining a proper diet and sleep schedule can be helpful–but more specifically, set aside some time to engage in activities that relax you or help you cope in times of distress. Maybe you’ve previously found comfort in journaling, gardening, walking, or listening to calming music. Everyone’s method of coping is different; find something that works for you and make it a part of your day. Staying present and engaged in your own life can help you process your emotions in a healthy way.
As stated above, you are probably going to experience a large spectrum of emotions as you process the death of your loved one. You may feel fear, disbelief, loneliness, or anger all in the same day. Work on accepting your feelings as they come to you, and find healthy outlets for expressing them. Healing takes time, and eventually most people do reach a place of acceptance, even if they still miss their loved one very much. Give yourself the time and space you need, and don’t forget to utilize your support system in the meantime.
Everyone grieves differently, but if your loss has led to prolonged depression, substance abuse, self-harm, loss of hope, or other self destructive behaviors, reach out to a counselor or therapist for additional support. You don’t have to go through this alone.