Many people have preconceived ideas about what grief looks like. They often believe that you will move through distinct stages, such as denial, anger, bargaining and depression. However, your grief is unique and may look different than another person’s. To help you move forward when you are in deep grief, consider these tips:
Let Yourself Grieve
Grieving is a natural process that can be complicated, and everyone experiences it differently. Some people feel grief more intensely and for a longer period of time than others do, depending on things like their personality, age, beliefs, support network, and the type of loss they experience (such as the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship). There is no set amount of time to grieve, but many people find that it’s helpful to make certain changes to their lives during this difficult time. These include pacing themselves, getting involved in activities that bring joy to their life, and avoiding self-destructive behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use or eating unhealthy foods.
Grieving also involves identifying what brings you happiness, whether it’s a hobby or something as simple as a routine. Taking the time to do those things every day can help you coping with loss. It’s normal to feel anger, confusion, and sadness during this process, but it’s important not to let these feelings consume you.
Don’t Make Major Changes
There are times when a person is in such a deep state of grief that they might regret making major life decisions or instigate changes. During these times, it is important to try and remain stable and not make any decisions that might be hard to reverse later on. It is also a good idea to avoid major lifestyle changes such as moving, remarrying or having another child. One of the most important things to remember when grieving is that it does not last forever. It might feel like it is forever, but the pain will start to lift if you allow yourself to work through your emotions.
For some people, however, grief lingers for longer than others might expect, leading to a syndrome called complicated grief. This condition is difficult to treat, but it has been shown that cognitive behavioral therapy and a specific type of interpersonal psychotherapy can help. Psychotropic medications appear to have little impact on this condition 21.
Reach Out To Others
It’s important to have a support system during grief. Seek out face-to-face support from loved ones who know what you’re going through. You can also seek out group support from others who have experienced a similar loss. If you have trusted friends who are familiar with grieving, lean on them to talk about their own experiences and feelings. Listen without interrupting, and don’t offer false comfort like “It was for the best” or “You’ll get over it.” Instead, reflect back what they’ve told you to show them that you understood their experience.
Other ways to reach out to others include drawing comfort from your faith, seeking spiritual activities that help you cope and reaching out through volunteering. It’s also important to keep up with hobbies and interests that bring you joy and keep you connected to others. You can even express your emotions in creative ways, such as writing in a journal or creating art.
A bereaved person can feel overwhelmed by grief, and it’s important to allow time for healing. It’s not uncommon for a loved one to feel better within weeks or months, but some grievers may experience lingering symptoms for years. Grievers are often confused by their emotions and don’t realize they can get help. Licensed mental health professionals can offer support, educate and direct the grieving person to resources for help. In the realm of grief support of losing a loved one for those navigating the profound loss of a loved one, we find a tapestry woven with empathy, understanding, and shared humanity. This journey through grief is not one that can be neatly defined or universally experienced, but through the support networks, resources, and compassionate communities, we discover a path forward.
It’s important to be patient when comforting a grieving friend or family member. Listen as they tell their story, which will likely be repeated over and over again, sometimes in detail. Holidays, family milestones and anniversaries can reawaken the pain of loss so be sensitive on these days. Creating a routine can help ease the depression, agitation and sorrow that accompany grief. Adding activities like daily walks, exercise and a healthy diet can boost mood. You can also find solace in faith-based activities and your social network.
Whether it has been 5 days, 5 months or 5 years since your loss, you can still make progress. Recognizing that you are stuck in deep grief is the first step. Rely on those around you who care about you. Connect with those who share your faith or spiritual beliefs. Maintain connections to what gives your life meaning, especially during dark periods.