If you are part of my newsletter community (you can subscribe here if you would like), you know that at the moment I am going through a bit of a difficult time. If you, or someone you know, may be going through a similar period of heartache and pain, this post about how to deal with grief and loss will hopefully help you. Whereas we have probably heard most of this in one form or another before, I wanted to shine a light on (1) you not feeling alone, and (2) whatever feelings you are feeling, they are valid and deserve to be acknowledged 💕. I hope this post serves you.
What are Grief and Loss?
Grief is the natural response to loss. In its easiest form, you lose something that was important to you and near and dear to your heart. When said thing is taken away, grief is the response. Grief can manifest in all sorts of emotions. You might feel overwhelmed, angry, in disbelieve, heartbroken, sad, or guilty. Grief can also impact your physical health in a very real form. You could be experiencing issues with sleeping, eating, your digestion, or simply trying to formulate thoughts. In my case, for example, I was developing super intense headaches and had incredibly tense shoulders.
I wanted to note here that loss is oftentimes associated with losing a loved one. But it can be any type of loss. You may be moving out of a home you loved, lose a job, financial stability, your health, a friendship, or experience the break-up of a relationship. Whatever the loss, it is individual and personal to you. You do not need to justify your feelings to anyone – they are unique to you and your situation. Please (as said above) do not forget that 💕.
The Process of Grieving
Just as unique and individual a loss is to you, so is your process to grieve such loss. Unfortunately, this also means that there is no right answer here as to how long this process may take. Some people feel better in the weeks and months after a loss. For others it takes years to feel more at peace. You cannot put healing on a timetable. However, it is important to go through the grieving process and not suppress or ignore it. This may only lead to more pain in the long run 🙏🏻.
The Five Stages of Grieving
I think most of us have heard of these before… the five stages of grieving. These were developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. Her research field was focused on people who had to learn how to deal with grief and loss due to them having a terminal illness. Nowadays, these have been more generalized and are universally applicable to all kinds of loss:
- First up is Denial. Think “this cannot be happening to me” or “why me instead of so and so”
- Anger. “Why me” or “who can I blame for this”
- Bargaining. “If you make me ok again, I will always do X (fill in the blank)”
- Depression. “I cannot go on like this” or “I am too sad to do anything”
- Acceptance. “I am at peace”
If you are going through any of these phases right now, please know that this is normal and you will heal with and in time 💚. Also, there is absolutely no evidence that you have to go through all stages of the grieving process in order to heal. Some people do not experience any of the stages, whereas some go through a few of these stages, but they may not be in divine order. As said above, grieving is as individual as the experienced loss. Albeit a shared experience (because, sadly, all of us experience loss at some stage), only you know how to help yourself to heal.
How to Deal with Grief and Loss
How to get to a better, more healed place is completely individual. The below is meant to provide some suggestions and hopefully provides you with some suggestions to try. It is, likely, not exhaustive though.
Seek out Support
Whether your friends and family want to support you, or you join a support group. Having a support system, especially during this very difficult time can be really beneficial to your pain. Do not assume that people know what you need. They do not know whether it is a shoulder to cry on, a shared meal, or a load of washing being washed for you. Articulate what would help you. At the same time, be mindful that a lot of people do not know how to deal with other people’s heartbreak and may act slightly awkward around you. But people show up because they care. I truly believe that as long as both parties show up with grace in situations like this you will navigate this path.
Express Your Feelings
Whether you speak with a loved one or bring pen to paper – let out how you feel. If your feelings are super overbearing, you may even speak to a therapist or counselor.
Take Care of You (and Your Health)
If there is one thing that I notice time and time again… it is that taking care of you and investing in yourself is possibly the most valuable thing we – as humans – can do. A routine may help provide some structure to your day. Your body, mind, digestive tract, and life are also already consumed with sorrow so to ensure that you are eating nutrient-dense foods, getting rest when needed and maybe doing some gentle exercise (which, in turn, will help with the digestion, sleep, and overall wellbeing) are some really good things you can do at this time for yourself.
Lean into Your Faith
If you are religious or spiritual, lean into your faith. There are practices around sorrow and grief. They are all meant to help our bodies and brains to ‘digest’ the experienced. Spiritual activities can help you deal with sorrow and may ease the pain. For example, I have found great solace in meditation from this perspective as of late.
Unfortunately – and this is not meant in a harsh way – life does move on. It may never feel the same and it may be completely different. But with time, you will begin to heal. Life is for the living and there is a divine reason why you are still here 💚.
I hope this post has helped you a bit. As said in the beginning, this is neither new nor inventive. But it may support you on your journey of healing. Remember – you are not alone and we all go through tough times. I am sending you all the virtual love and support on this difficult journey. Beautiful cover photo by Louis Galvez on Unsplash.