If you have ever lost a loved one, dealt with a breakup, divorce, or loss of friendship, or gone through a severe and tumultuous life change, you would know that learning how to cope with grief and loss is tough.
Grief is something that touches all our lives. Given the dark and awful times we live in, personal and social tragedies are occurring every moment, and it’s impossible to stay afloat. The worst part about dealing with grief is that it does not have a finite timeline or stages of grief. We have all learned how to define grief through a series of five or seven steps or stages.
However, there are no stages of grief.
These psychological models can be helpful in understanding the various emotions that occur while coping with grief. However, grief is by no means a linear process. It’s, in fact, circular and throws you in an unending loop of hurt and pain.
Even though grief touches all our lives, there is no one-size-fits-all model to help people learn how to cope with grief and loss. When you suffer from any form of loss in life, you might have to confront grief time and again, even though years have passed since then.
And this is what makes dealing with grief even more tricky and complex.
Often, coping with grief can become so painful and challenging that people might indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms. This, in turn, affects their physical and mental health and the overall quality of their lives.
Learning about how to cope with grief healthily can, therefore, save lives. To help you get started, we have created a complete guide on how to cope with grief. Let’s dive in.
What Is Grief?
Grief is a human response toward loss. Everyone is affected by loss in different forms, and therefore, grief is a near-universal experience. While learning how to cope with the grief of losing a loved one is one of the most difficult forms of grief, it’s certainly not the only one.
Grief is associated with all losses that can significantly impact a person’s life. It can be triggered by the loss of a pet or the ending of a relationship. Most of the time, people have trouble naming their losses. This is because, in mainstream society, grief is mainly associated with physical loss. The emotional losses are more or less neglected from the spectrum.
Additionally, grief is not just an emotional response. It can have significant behavioral, physical, and social responses. It can affect a person’s daily life and reflect on the way they function.
Why Is Grief So Painful?
Learning how to recover from grief is extremely painful and challenging. But have you wondered why? Why is grief so painful? Why does it take so much out of you to handle grief?
Grief is an essential human response. While it originates in the mind, it gradually affects the whole body. The moment you are confronted with your loss, your brain activates the flight or fight mode. This state of stress and anxiety puts severe pressure on your bodily functions. The flight or fight mode usually lasts a few minutes to 48 hours.
However, the after-effects can continue for months. Even after years have passed, any trigger that reminds you of your loss can trigger a stress response in your body.
This is why grief is a non-linear process where emotions can fade and reappear as you move through your daily life. This prolonged phase of grieving makes the whole process tougher and more painful.
So, How To Cope With Grief?
Now that we have an idea of what grief means and how it affects your daily life, it’s time to get to the question we started with – how to cope with grief and loss?
You see, simply ignoring your complex emotions and uncomfortable feelings isn’t going to help. Instead, confronting your emotions, understanding your triggers, and finding healthy coping mechanisms are what’s going to assist you recover effectively.
To get you started, here are the most effective and least intimidating ways to cope with grief. Let’s dive in.
1. Find low-key ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
As we mentioned above, grief triggers a fight-or-flight response in the body. The after-effects of this response can linger in your body for years. This way, whenever triggered, it can overwhelm your brain and nervous system, making you hyperactive toward any potential threat. It can affect your cognitive skills and disrupt your appetite and sleep schedule.
Therefore, whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take some time to calm yourself down.
To begin with, focus on what you need at the moment. This does not mean that you are disengaging with your emotions.
2. Give yourself permission to feel your emotions deeply.
One of the most important ways to cope with grief is to allow yourself to feel your emotions.
The hurt and pain associated with your grief can be extremely overwhelming to deal with. Therefore, shutting your feelings might seem like an effective way to numb your pain. However, it’s highly essential in your recovery process that you feel all these emotions.
Feeling your emotions is one of the first steps in learning how to deal with grief and loss. If you stifle your feelings, it will only prolong your grieving process.
Naming your emotions and confronting them allows you to process them. Therefore, give yourself the permission to cry, shout, scream, and smile freely.
3. Prioritize taking care of yourself while you are grieving.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer weight of grief. Therefore, as you figure out how to handle grief, it’s essential to prioritize your well-being.
To begin with, think of your loss as a physical wound and tend to it likewise. Take care of your body’s well-being and focus on good nutrition, sleep, and physical movement. Take time to journal your thoughts or join a support group of people going through similar struggles.
Simply put, self-care is one of the healthiest ways to cope with grief.
4. Develop a routine and try to stick to it.
Right after you encounter a loss, your daily life can take a big hit. Your regular life cycle and daily activities are the first things to start getting affected. As you progress, these routines will continue to change and take shape.
This lack of control can extend further damage to your mental health and well-being. This is precisely why sticking to a daily routine can put you in control of your life.
Therefore, try to build a healthy daily routine for yourself. It gives you a sense of safety and creates stability. You will be amazed at how comforting the idea of eating dinner at seven (even though your world has been falling out of control) can be.
5. Don’t judge yourself for your pain.
With loss and grief comes judgment and guilt. Every time you are confronted with a significant loss in life, you are bound to judge yourself for the way you grieve. You might feel you are too affected or unaffected. You might feel like a failure for being unable to be strong enough.
However, one of the most important tips on how to recover from grief is to let go of the judgment that arises in your mind. It’s important that you are kind and compassionate toward yourself throughout the process of dealing with grief.
6. Spend time with people who care about you.
Another effective tip on how to overcome grief is to spend time with people who genuinely love and care for you instead of voyeuristic individuals who derive pleasure from your pain. These loving individuals can be your friends, family, or even kind strangers.
Anyone who has been through grief knows how essential and comforting it can be to have a sacred space where you can be fully vulnerable about your pain and hurt. Having people who aren’t rushing to tell you to ‘move on’ or ‘feel better already’ can help you be yourself without pretense.
7. Seek professional help if you need to.
Sometimes, grief can become too consuming and difficult. It can start affecting your whole life and make it difficult to process your emotions. This is when looking for professional help can be an effective way to handle grief.
When you are grieving, it’s easy to feel alone. You might isolate yourself from people you love and feel extremely lonely. Having a skilled mental health professional can provide you with a much-needed safe space during this time. They can comfort you throughout your healing process and help you devise healthy coping mechanisms.
Everyone experiences grief in different forms, and yet no one goes through it the same way. Grief is a non-linear and circular process that affects everyone differently. Therefore, the only way forward is to be gentle with yourself and heal on your own terms. We hope these tips on how to cope with grief will help you get started the right way.
Grieving is tough, and without help, it can get even more complicated. Access to professional help is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about affordable online therapy platforms, click here.
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