Grief is a natural response to loss. Often it can be overwhelming, and you can experience all kinds of unexpected emotions. It is a unique process for every individual, and we should not compare the way we grieve to the way others do. It’s important to be patient with yourself and practice mental, emotional, and physical self-care.
There are typically five stages of grief:
Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
We live in a culture that wants to quickly move past grief to “get over it” as though it were an obstacle. The truth is, it’s VERY normal for someone who is grieving to feel out of balance and off for a long time. There is no right way to grieve, and there is no set time in which you “should” be over it. We must remember it’s a process; it’s here to teach us, and to be compassionate, tolerant of our feelings, and move through it!
Here are six tips for how we can move through grief in a healthy way:
Feelings come and go whether we like it or not. All we must do is let them move through, like clouds in the sky. It is not weak or abnormal to feel all kinds of feelings. We can regulate our feelings and process them by journaling, talking to a therapist or friend, joining a support group, reading, practicing mindfulness, or listening to podcasts to normalize and relate to others.
2. Keep Structure to Your Day and Goals
This means get up at the same time, get dressed, and shower even if you are not leaving the house. This is how we can practice self-care. Also eat small, regular meals even if you are not hungry. Try to get out for some fresh air, schedule a walk, do errands, and make a list of activities or chores around the house you can do.
3. Set a Regular Sleep Schedule
Make it a goal to go to sleep and wake at the same time each day. Sleeping seven to nine hours is key! This will help with your moods, hormonal and brain balance, and quality of sleep. Give yourself time to rest if needed, but beware of sleeping too much to escape the grieving process.
Grief can cause appetite loss, overeating, sleeplessness, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating. Strive to eat a well-balanced diet, rest, exercise, and talk with your doctor about how to care for yourself during this challenging time.
5. Express Your Feelings and Cry
Find ways to not only talk about your feelings of loss and the multitude of emotions that accompany them, but also to write about them or express them through art, poetry, or music. Allow the tears to express your sense of loss. Tears help us heal.
There are people out there who have been in similar situations and can help you get through this tough time. Please reach out. Friends, family, a support group, or therapy is a great way to start. You are not alone.
Some people will move past grief quickly, and for some it may never really end; it just gets easier over time. You will know when you are ready to move forward when you can reinvest the energy into something new and you can feel peace, joy, and acceptance. This takes time. Being good to yourself during the process is essential.
Erica Spiegelman is a wellness specialist, recovery counselor, and author of the new book The Rewired Life (2018) as well as Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction & Recovery(2015), the Rewired Workbook (2017), the Rewired Coloring Book (2017), all published by Hatherleigh Press. Erica holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Arizona and is a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADAC)-II from UCLA. For more information, visit Erica’s website or follow @Erica Spiegelman on Instagram.
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