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How to manage grief in healthy ways

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How to manage grief in healthy ways

Grief is quite a common emotional reaction that everyone experiences at some point in their life due to many reasons like the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, the death of a pet, miscarriages and many others. One should never feel as though their reason for the feelings of grief to be incompetent compared to another’s reason for grieving. Any person’s reason for grieving is just as valid as the next person. Many people go through 5 stages of grief but it is important to note that not every single person is going to grieve in the same way; there isn’t a specific or particular way one should or should not grieve. People have different ways of coping with difficult things and situations, so no one should feel as though their way of grieving is invalid. How long it takes someone to grieve are influenced by many factors and there is no specific amount of time one should be grieving for. The main focus of this article will be to provide with tips on how to cope with grief in healthy ways so that one slowly and steady get through whatever might have been the cause of the grieving.

Symptoms of grief, both emotional and physical

Many people believe grieving can only show up or affect someone in emotional ways, but you can also identify when someone is grieving through their physical responses because a lot of the times when one is affected emotionally it can in turn affect them physically and vice versa.

The symptoms include:

  • Shock
  • Sadness 
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Guilt 
  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea
  • Body aches
  • Insomnia 
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Lowered immunity 

The five stages of grief

These stages were developed by Elisabeth Kubler Ross, 1969. Note that the stages do not apply to everyone; people go through many ways of grieving, so there is no particular way to grieve. These, listed below, are just the most common stages in which people go through.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression 
  • Acceptance

Healthy ways to cope with and manage grief

Take responsibility for your recovery

This is an important part of the recovery process because if we take responsibility for our feelings of grief it’d feel as though we have control over it and so can make a huge impact on the recovery with the steps we take. When we give others control over our feelings we are also giving them the responsibility to end it. That will not work out well in the end and could cause the grieving process to elongate.

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Talk about how you feel and how the loss has affected you

It is very important to talk honestly about how you feel to someone that you trust because without letting your feelings out the grieving process will not allow you to move forward.

Write a letter to your loved one or the person you lost

One of the reasons why one may be stuck in the grieving process of losing a loved one is because the relationship is in some way emotionally incomplete. It could be because of things we wish we’d said or done or things we wish we hadn’t said or done. One of the best ways to make the relationship emotionally complete is by writing a letter to the person as if they were still alive, make sure to clearly analyse the relationship you had with this person so you can figure out what it is you truly want to say in order to fully let go of all of it unto the letter.

Accept that your life will most likely change

If something tragic were to happen in your life, e.g. the death of a loved one, you’d not feel or be the same person after. Your life might also begin to change as you make new choices that’ll lead you to new paths. All this should not frighten you though; all this change could lead to very great things for you in the future. You will grow emotionally and spiritually depending on how you handle the situation, and that could impact your life in the greatest ways possible. You must accept that your life will change. You cannot keep thinking. It will stay the same and might do more harm than good in the long run. Realize that at the end of the day change isn’t always a bad thing.

Find comfort In your spiritual/religious practices

A great thing about taking solace in religious or spiritual practices is that it would help greatly in dealing with a lot of problems especially with death since it could give people a hope for a comfortable resting place for their loved ones; also that of reunion.

Engage in grief relieving activities

Things like going to a funeral, supplications, visiting the cemetery etc are all really good rituals that may help greatly in easing the grief. Keep in mind though that there are rituals that are bad for the grieving process, for example keeping the person’s room as it was since their death/loss. This could keep a person stuck in the past and stop them from moving forward in their life.

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Hold off on making any major life decisions or changes

At a time when you are grieving you might not see things as clearly and might end up making decisions you will regret later on, so you should hold off on making any major decisions until your mind has settled down first.

Reduce some of your expectations on yourself

You should look into reducing the amount of activities you do throughout the day, week or month. It isn’t advisable to be doing alot, that could be work, lessons, etc, when you are not emotionally well or going through a hard time.

Honor your loved one in some creative or meaningful way

Whether this be praying for them, talking about all the good memories they left behind or doing something good to honour their memories. All these can help in the process of grieving. You should do anything you feel is significant to them or the situation in order to honour your loved one, this could be an important part of healing.

Allow yourself to feel and experience any potential happiness

Usually after a while of grieving and feeling sadness, anger and many other negative feelings, you might start to feel happy again at random moments, maybe something made you laugh or smile. You should not feel guilty for those moments of happiness that you feel. It isn’t necessary that you must always be sad when something bad in your life happens, you should allow yourself to be happy too. That usually shows that you are healing.

Understand the impact that anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and milestones may cause:

These types of days can intensify your feelings of sadness, but don’t let it keep you down. It is a chance to remember the good times you had with the person. You may even celebrate, visit their grave to pray for them, or do something that’ll make you feel better.

Seek professional help

Sometimes when things are too much for us it is always good to ask for professional help, whether it be from a psychologist, counsellor, etc. It isn’t a bad thing to want or need help; in fact, it is a show of strength that you have the courage to ask for help.

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Spend some time on your own if you need it

Sometimes it is important for us to spend some time alone to help us truly think and reflect on what has happened. This could help you clear your mind and give you space to heal.

Get plenty of rest

It is always important to give yourself the time to rest and think through everything. You could also go out and have fun, do something you enjoy, make sure to get enough sleep as well. These could all help massively with the healing process.

Always remember that grieving is like a roller coaster, for some it may go smoothly but for alot it doesn’t go that way. It is rocky and has a lot of ups and downs. You will feel moments of sadness, anger, and regret but you will also have moments of happiness and peace. Allow yourself to grieve, don’t push your feelings down, hoping they will go away, because they won’t and would likely cause more harm than good. You mustn’t feel as though you are weak for grieving, it is natural and happens to nearly every human being. People grieve for different reasons, and in different ways there is never a correct thing or way to grieve. Though it is important that you look for ways to cope with it in a healthy way so that you do not end up spiralling and losing yourself in the past when you have many people and opportunities waiting for you in the present. It may seem impossible to get through alot of hard times. Life is tough and has many ups as well as downs, but do not give up. If you keep fighting you will see that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Bibliography:

Burry, M. (2023, January 10). Dealing With Grief: Coping Skills and Strategies. Health. Retrieved 23 March 2023

Gillette, H. (2021, July 21). 6 Coping Skills to Work Through Grief. Psych Central. Retrieved 23 March 2023

GoodTherapy Editor Team. (2019, November 5). Four Tasks of Mourning. GoodTherapy. Retrieved 23 March 2023

Gupta, S. (2021, June 23). What Is Grief Counseling? Verywell Mind. Retrieved 23 March 2023

Smith, M., MA. (2023, February 25). Coping with Grief and Loss. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved 23 March 2023

Strategies to Cope with Grief. (n.d.). UNICEF. Retrieved 23 March 2023

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