How to Deal with Grief in Everyday Life
Have you ever felt empty due to sudden loss? If that has ever happened to you, you may have been experiencing grief. The grief that you experience can come not only from someone’s passing but also from a range of losses such as heartbreak from a romantic relationship, the resignation of close colleagues, and even loss of financial stability. The grief might come with mixed emotions; you might feel thankful but jealous, powerful but lonely, or sad but grateful. These changes will plunge your life into an emotional roller-coaster, however, even though those painful changes, there are chances to grow.
The difficulty of dealing with grief
One of the reasons why grief is such a complicated emotion is because people are trained to achieve things in life. During childhood, people often strive for their parents’ approval. As they enter school, studying hard becomes a motivation to receive recognition. In their formative years, teenagers try to be physically appealing to gain acceptance.
This pattern goes on until adulthood. People have gained so much knowledge on how to gain certain things but are left helpless in the face of loss. Lack of knowledge about how to cope with grief also affects how people respond to others who are grieving, which leads to the second reason.
Society has not been able to give suitable feedback to grief. Grief is not only an emotional experience; it can also negatively affect a person’s physical health. As an attempt to overcome this, society tends to focus on pushing the unpleasantness away quickly by suggesting you get busy or simply forget about it. Of course, it is not that easy to push grief away since a human’s brain and body are made to think and feel.
To push the grief away is like pushing a part of yourself away. Therefore, rather than denying and letting it be released in an unhealthy way, one would need to manage grief by creating an emotionally safe space to be released adaptively. However, this condition might be difficult to realize due to the need for efficiency, which leads us to the last reason.
In modern times, productivity and efficiency are highly valued. However, you might have less time paying attention to yourself and have a harder time healing adaptively from grief. This may lead to difficulty in sleeping, poor appetite, overthinking, and even procrastination, all of which is akin to adding salt to an existing wound caused by grief.
As such, it is important to realize that grief is a beautiful emotion that can help you gain wisdom and personal growth if you can overcome it adaptively. Even if it is not easy, there are ways to go through the process of grief in a meaningful way while still being able to go on with daily life.
- Be honest with yourself
It might be difficult to be honest with yourself during the beginning of grief since it might bring more sadness and pain, but the more you realize and embrace it, the more effectively you can deal with it. One way to go about it is to write your thoughts down in the journal. Since this is a personal journal, you do not have to think of the aesthetic of your handwriting, grammar, or how it might sound to others. It is a free, private, and personal safe space for your grief.
- Say “Yes” to the feeling
After being honest with your grief, you might find it easier to repress or push away the discomfort it gives you than to accept and be in that moment. However, only in embracing your grief will you learn to be grounded and aware of how your body is reacting towards grief such as feeling your heart beat faster or your shortness of breath.
When this happens, try to sit comfortably and breathe from your stomach slowly and gently. To do this, expand your belly out as you inhale and slowly exhale. Slow breathing is one of the ways you can soothe yourself and create a sense of safety and relaxation while dealing with grief.
- Be proactive
When a person gets physically injured, they would be proactive in their recovery by attending to it immediately or even going to the doctor in the case of a severe injury. Similarly, people should also be proactive in tending to their emotional needs, especially in times of grief.
Ask yourself what you really need to feel better and make that as the guide for healing. However, make sure that the steps you take are sustainable and will not bring harm to yourself or others. In addition, you might consider reducing some stressful activities for the sake of recovery. Be compassionate to yourself and be creative in finding what feels good to you.
- Practice self-care
Your energy gets drained physically and emotionally during the grieving process, so it is important to practice self-care; taking care of your body will help in the healing process. Several ways to take care of your physical health include practicing proper hygiene, getting proper sleep, doing exercises or activities, and eating a nutritious meal. Taking care of your emotional health can involve expressing yourself through creative means, meditating, doing hobbies that you like, and talking with people that you trust.
- Reach out
Do not hesitate to ask for help especially when your pain is too much to handle. Ask yourself who are the people that you can trust, reach out to, and comfort you in difficult times. It might be a family member, romantic partner, friend, work colleague, spiritual leader, or mental health professional. To maximize your healing process, you might consider reorganizing deadlines and tasks with your work supervisor. Find the middle-ground for you and your supervisor’s needs, so that you can healthily process your grief while not having to worry about work.
Even if grief may not be a pleasurable experience in life, it can help you become more adaptable, see your capacity to love in yourself, appreciate happy moments, and discover the meaning of life. Rather than taking large, extravagant moves, tiny, appropriate, and actionable choices can help you bounce back from painful grief.