How To Deal With Grief

Grief is a tricky emotion. We feel it after a loss and trauma, but it also tends to resurface in unexpected ways later in our lives. Learning how to cope with—or manage—grief is important for our sanity, growth, and relationships.

Most people tend to think of grief as being synonymous for being sad. But it is much more complex than that, and it is often difficult to understand. Grief is any and all difficult emotions following a loss. It can include sadness, anger, depression, guilt, shame, and many other emotions. Sometimes there is a sense of not feeling at all, or “feeling numb” to everything and everyone. It’s common for many loss survivors to feel more than one emotion at once, which leads to even greater confusion and frustration because they’ll often say “I don’t even know what I’m feeling right now.” It is a sense that things are out of control, unjust, and unreal.

Grief tells us that what or who we have lost was very important to us and our lives. Grief is not bad, problematic, or dysfunctional. It is normal, healthy, yet often painful.

Below is a list of grieving tips:

  1. Trust your grief. Grief is a powerful tool to shape and guide who we need to be in life. Allow yourself time and space to grieve. This doesn’t mean you need to force the emotions or painful memories, but it does mean that when you feel those emotions you should find some time to learn to accept them for what they are.
  2. Find your reason. Many of us want to know why certain things happen to us. Sometimes when we find that reason, we feel like there is a sense of closure and we can move on. These answers may come quickly or gradually.
  3. Create your meaning. Sometimes the reason we find or feel for our loss isn’t always correct or healthy. For example, a child who grew up with abusive parents may feel she is the reason why her parents got angry all the time. The reality is that, many of the times, there really is no reason. Experiencing a loss doesn’t mean you were to be tested or punished. It just happened. However, creating your meaning is different than finding your reason (above) because when you create your meaning you are the one who determines how your loss will motivate you and how it will help you be different in the future. Will you become more compassionate? Get the college degree you’ve always wanted? Become more like the person you’ve lost? The key to creating your meaning is to allow your loss to build, mold, and help you increase your potential.

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