Losing someone important to you, whether that be a family member, friend, or beloved pet, is one of the hardest things we have to go through as humans. The grieving process can be long, arduous, and can leave us feeling lost without that person. In the worst cases, grief can lead to depression or other health issues. These are all incredibly common reactions to grief, which millions of people all around the world are currently going through. Thankfully, there are tools that we can use to help us pull through the rough times and allow us to grow from the grief that we’re experiencing. It is important that you navigate the following tips at your own pace – the grieving process is different for everyone and give yourself permission to take two steps forward and one step back.
1) Accept your feelings
It’s important that we are honest here, the feelings are going to come and they’re going to be uncomfortable, saddening, anger-provoking, and numbing. Suppressing these feelings and pretending that everything is okay is where the risk of complications further down the line comes in, including anxiety and depression. The absolute best thing that you can do for yourself is to sit with the sadness, the loss, and truly feel it. Once you’ve acknowledged that you’re hurting, the healing process can begin.
2) Express your grief creatively
Writing in a journal as you navigate the grieving process can be a soothing way to acknowledge how you feel. It’s also beneficial, as you can look back on how far you’ve come along the process and find relief in real-time evidence that things are getting better. If you’re experiencing any anger or regret, it can be therapeutic to write a letter to your lost loved one, telling them everything that’s on your heart. People also find continuing a passion for their lost one to be helpful, perhaps by volunteering at a charity they loved. This helps to create a sense of purpose and control over the grief, by channeling it towards something positive.
3) Talk to friends and family members
If you’re somebody who is usually self-sufficient, it can be hard to relax into the idea of accepting help when it is offered or to ask for help. As unnatural as it may feel for you, now is the time to lean on your loved ones. A lot of them have probably already offered to help, whilst the rest are worried about offending you as they know how independent you are. Right now, you don’t need self-sufficiency, you need support. This counts for whether you want to talk about your lost one for hours or talk about anything but what you are going through. If you’re worried about how the conversation may go, perhaps drop your friend or family member a message before you speak, explaining what you would like to talk about and that you’d be appreciative if they’d just provide a listening ear.
4) Visit a therapist
If seeking help for your general mental health isn’t something you have experience with, visiting a therapist for your grief can seem scary. In reality, if you are struggling with grief and can’t see a way out, starting therapy will give you an outlet to work through your feelings with a professional. It’s easy for us to go to the doctor’s office to medicate our physical health without a second thought, visiting a therapist when we are struggling with our mental health should be no different. A simple Google search of therapists in your local area will give you plenty of options, but try and specifically find one that has a background in dealing with grief.
5) Don’t forget to exercise
When we’re feeling down it is often difficult to find the motivation to exercise, as our energy levels may be low and the idea of looking after ourselves often goes completely out the window. However, get your body moving during the grieving process, especially outside in the open air. Exercising helps release endorphins in the body and can help to lift our mood and clear our minds. Even just taking a walk in the park can release endorphins, so if a run or your spinning class feels completely out of the question, just try getting outdoors and moving your legs.
It’s also integral to remember that you will most likely never truly be over the loss of your loved one – that is not the goal here. You will, however, grow to accept your loss and learn that their spirit lives on within your heart.